Fadil walked down the sidewalk, pushing his mom’s chair ahead of him. He knew she could do it herself, she’d told him plenty of times, but he liked being out here with her. It gave him something that made him feel useful at least.
“You’ve been quiet lately,” his mother said suddenly. “Ever since you got back with my medicine yesterday really. Did something happen?”
A snorting laugh nearly escaped him at that. Did something happen? Yeah, something had certainly happened. He wasn’t sure he really wanted to talk to his mother about that, though.
“It was fine. I told you about it.”
“Yeah,” she said, and he could hear the tension in the voice. “I still want to call my sister and have it out with her. She promised she’d take care of everything so you wouldn’t have a problem picking things up for me.”
“Aunt Janine has never liked me. That’s not your fault.”
“It isn’t yours either, my sweet boy.”
Fadil did snort at that. It had been a long time since she’d called him that. A long time since he’d felt he deserved it. His mom chuckled then and it took him a moment to realize her amusement wasn’t over their conversation but something that had caught her attention in the park.
He turned his gaze that way and nearly stopped breathing. A man had his head thrown back, a laugh bursting out of him. Even from this distance, Fadil could hear the joy in it. He licked his lips, but his tongue and mouth and throat felt suddenly dry. Then, the little girl jumped up from the ground where she’d fallen in the middle of a cartwheel and put her hands on her hips.
What had Mike called her the day before? Right. Alexa. He couldn’t hear what she said to her father, but her face was fierce. And Fadil’s mother was still chuckling. “We should go over and say hi to them,” she said.
“No,” he answered automatically, his face already feeling warm.
His mother tipped her head back so she could look up at him, and he averted his gaze. He didn’t want to know what she would see there. “Fadil,” she murmured, “my sweet boy. What do you seem to think you have to be ashamed of.”
“Nothing,” he lied. He hadn’t given voice to it since those first days after the accident. When his father was being buried and his mother was still laying in a hospital bed. When the guilt and grief were ripping him apart.
“Fadil,” she said again, tapping her hand on the arm of the chair.
He came around and knelt beside her. “I wasn’t here,” he said, the word torn from him. Dad died, you were hurt, and I didn’t even know for hours because I was with…someone.”
He felt her fingers trail through his hair. “A boy,” she said. “You can say it. He was your boyfriend. We thought he was a nice boy, but he didn’t stick with you when you were hurting.”
“I was an asshole,” he said, wincing slightly at the term. He’d always been careful not to curse around his parents, but it was the only way to describe how he’d acted back then. “He was right to leave.”
“You were grieving. He should have understood that.”
He shook his head but didn’t know what else to say about that. There had been more to his actions than grieving, but he couldn’t find the words to explain it to her. She lifted his chin. “You haven’t spoken of any relationships since then, but you deserve to be happy just as much as anyone else.”
He hadn’t had any relationships to speak of in that time, but he wouldn’t mention that. It would likely only worry her more. But, he lifted his gaze and saw Mike watching them, his hand wrapped around his daughter’s. Fadil’s mother glanced that way then back to Fadil. And a smile curved her lips up.
“Do I smell romance in the air?”
“No,” Fadil said sharply, standing up and brushing his knees off.
“Mike’s a good guy,” his mom said. “I think-”
“No, Mama,” Fadil said, taking the handles of the chair and starting on their way again. “Just let it go.”
Her shoulders slumped, and she heaved a sigh. “Fine. Have it your way.”
He figured that was best. No matter what else he might want. Taking what he wanted only ever seemed to bring sorrow his way.
No, he thought this was definitely better.
I combined prompts for Stream of Consciousness Saturday and Story a Day again. For SOCS, it was to use smell any way you want. And for Story a Day, to write a non-traditional love story. In a way, this is a love story between mother and son, her offering him forgiveness she doesn’t even think is necessary. It’s also the start of a romantic relationship between Mike & Fadil(shh, don’t tell Fadil he’s already a goner). Which is also non-traditional according to Julie’s tips(Mike is black & bisexual, Fadil is of Middle Eastern descent & gay/bi –he hasn’t told me exactly).