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A lot of things can knock a guy on his a**. This time I was flat on the ground. I didn’t have a father, now how am I supposed to be one.

Nine months I’ve been putting it off, ignoring it, hoping it wasn’t really happening. I guess I can’t run away anymore. Still I wanted sometime to think.

I took a walk to the park and sat down on a bench. I thought about Jen. She was so brave. She told me she always wanted to be a mother. Growing up I thought I always wanted to be a father, now I’m not sure if I know to be one. The kids at the high school they always seem to talk bad about their parents. I don’t think I could take that.
“Mr. Brighton where should I turn in the report?” asked a student that morning.
“In the bin, like always” I answered
“Right…say how is Ms Brighton, is little Ernest alright?”
“She’s fine, and the doctor says pretty soon he should be ready to enter the world.”
“Are you nervous?”
“Very”

The bell rand and I dismissed my class. The school day was over so I sat at the Rosenstock Park before going home. A man in his 60’s sat down next to me.
“Good day to sit down, eh?” he said. I smiled and nodded.
“You know I’ve been sitting on this bench my whole life. I swear my life flashes by every time I sit here.” I listened.
“See that coffee shop over there?”
“Mephisto’s”
“Yes, you know I met John Mephisto”
“Really?” I was feeling pre occupied to listen too much.
“Yes, yes, Mr. John Mephisto. Nice man. Passed away a long time ago. It’s a shame he never got to be with his son or the rest of his family”
“That’s terrible”
“Well, I don’t blame him. He worked very hard to keep his coffee shop at ‘maximum efficiency’”. He chuckled.
“Did you know his son?”
“Oh yes.” He chuckled again. “He spent most of his time wasting time, never appreciated his father.”
“I never knew my father”
“Well, that’s no goof, did he pass away?”
“No, no, I just never spent time with him.”
“Do you wish you could?”
“I’m not sure. I can’t just start a relationship with him. Twenty nine years fly by.”
“You know it’s never too late to try”. I sat there quietly. I checked the time, 4:30.
The man broke the silence. He said. “Well I’m off. It was nice to meet you Mr…..”
“Brighton, my name is Thomas Brighton”
“Well Thomas, have a good day”
“You too…”
“John Mephisto Jr. I’m to the cemetery to see ol’ Mephisto”

I smiled and said good bye. John was a good man. The best advice on life is from people who have lived a life. I got a got a text message, it read.
“Jen’s water broke. See you at the hospital” It was from Julia. Good thing Jen and Julia spent so much time together.

I jumped into my car and raced towards the hospital. When I stopped at a red light, I thought about what John had said. I pulled out my phony and scrolled down my contacts. I stopped at Jack and dialed.
“Thomas?” an old voice answered.
“Dad come to the hospital right now.”
“Okay, I’ll be there”

There was silence. Awkward silence like when two people don’t know how hey feel. Did he feel sorry for not being around? Did I feel remorse for never trying to have him around?
“Thanks Thomas” he said. I heard sincerity in his voice. He was nervous.
“You’re welcome dad”

After all this time of ignoring each other, of silence. He would come. At the hospital the details are sketchy. Jen yelled at me. Doctors yelled at me. I listened. Ernest was in my arms. Jen slept. Jen’s parents and Julia were there. They adored Ernest. Julia left as she said ‘Jen was in safe hands’. Jen’s parents left soon after.

In the peaceful silence of Jen sleeping and Ernest resting, the door opened. A man wearing a tag that read “Visitor” entered. He made his was towards me.
“Hello Thomas”
“Hello dad”
“Ernest I presume”
“Would you like to hold him?” His eyes met mine, confused nervous, excited, all at once. He nodded.

As I handed Ernest to my dad, my mom walked in. She sat down on the other side of me smiling. As the sun set on that fall day, we talked about my child hood and Ernest.





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