Today’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “coin”. I skipped last week’s post because we left early for the town’s Homecoming parade, which both of my kids ended up being in. My boy got to walk with Daddy with both of them in fire gear, and the girl rode in a hay wagon for the fire department. And the town had a sort of “fall fest” after the parade. So, we were gone most of the day. But, I’m coming back this week. Once again, the prompt had a line of dialogue popping into my head. this seems to be what happens most often.
“Maybe you two should flip a coin for it.”
Toby glanced over at his mother. Her lips were pressed together, but from the way they kept twitching, he thought it was to suppress a laugh, and not because she was upset with his siblings. His own lips quirked up at that. This was the mother he sometimes wished he’d had when he was growing up, one that was actually involved instead of off finding another fix and sometimes forgetting she had a son.
He pushed those dark thoughts away. Not the time for them. Mom was different now, and if his childhood had been different, he might not be the person he was now. Not that he always thought that would be a bad thing.
“I could take both of them. It wouldn’t really be a problem. It’s not like I have a patrol car and one of them would have to sit in the back.” He saw his sister’s eyes go wide at that. He nearly laughed at that. Arcelia was a sweet girl and had probably never even thought about sitting in the back of a police car. Well before he was her age, he’d done just that several times. Back then, he certainly never thought he’d drive one.
Not going back there. He knew better than to let thoughts of his past crowd his mind. He was different now, like his mother. They’d both come out better than they’d been.
Arcelia took a step back. “Jonas can go this time,” she said. “I have some homework to get done for Monday still.”
Her twin brother wrinkled his nose at that. “You’re going to spend your Saturday doing homework? Really, Cel? I didn’t even think you were that pathetic.”
“Jonas Edward Pedera,” his mother chastised. “You don’t talk to your sister like that.”
Hearing his brother’s middle name always sent a pang through his chest. Edward, who’d always been more of a father to Toby than he’d needed to be. He could have been like his buddy Carlos’ stepfather and shut him out because of the things he’d done. Instead, he’d drawn him in, adopted him, and been everything a real father should be. He’d helped draw Toby back out of that darkness.
And he still missed him so much some days.
Toby smiled at Arcelia. “That’s fine,” he said. “We can go somewhere tomorrow, since you’ll be finished with your homework while Jonas has to cram all his into a few hours.”
His brother stuck his tongue out, and Toby caught him in a quick headlock. But, it was hard to hold it when he was laughing nearly as much as the teenager. “Go get your shoes,” he said, pushing the boy away from him. “I told Carlos we’d be there by noon. Going to be pushing it.”
Both of the kids headed out of the kitchen, Jonas to grab his shoes, and Arcelia up to her room. When they were alone, Toby’s mother turned to him. “They both love you so much. You know that, right?”
He nodded, but his throat felt too tight to respond. His mother seemed to sense this and just pushed up on her toes to kiss his forehead. “Edward would be so proud of you, of the man you’ve become.”
Toby knew he never would have been able to do it without the other man. And he just hoped he’d never let him down, never return to the screw-up he’d been when the man had first met him. He was determined to leave something better behind.
Jonas came running back into the room, pushing those murky thoughts away. “That was quick. You must really be craving some of Carlos’ cooking.”
“Actually I think he has a crush on one of the waitresses there,” their mom said.
“Mom,” Jonas said, drawing the word out into several syllables.
She laughed and kissed his forehead, like she’d done with Toby. “Have fun. Be good. Listen to your brother.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know,” he said, but his cheeks were still dark from their mom’s revelation.
Toby remembered what it was like to be sixteen and have a crush. His hadn’t had any possibility of happening though. So, he just squeezed the boy’s shoulder and headed for the door. “I’ll have him back in time for dinner.”
“You’re welcome to stay for it, too, Tobias.”
“Thanks, mama. I might just do that.” It would be better than being alone in his apartment with his own thoughts. He’d been spending too much time there lately, and it didn’t make things look any brighter.