It was a murky late afternoon making Harwood’s hometown Twinbrook look ugly and unwelcoming. Even the twin rivers that gave the town it’s name looked different, somehow palish green instead of it’s usual dark blue. Or maybe it was just Harwood’s sour mood that was spoiling everything to him.
He sighed to himself as he pedalled across the bridge that would lead him to the Rich People Island. It wasn’t the island’s actual name, it was just something he called it in his head because of all the nice house there. He couldn’t believe it was where Dilly and her mother lived. Who would have thought his girlfriend was rich, it wasn’t something that crossed his mind earlier, or came up in any of their conversations. But still it was stupid of him not to know where the mother of his child lived.
This day had just turned out so bad. He came to the hospital anxious to be with his son and his mother only to be treated as an extra by the Pidgin women. Were they really thinking he wouldn’t want to be a part of his son’s life? He pedalled harder towards the address Milly gave him. The road took him through the island and then up the hill, further then he expected.
The Pidgin home was where the road he followed ended so Harwood stepped of his bike and looked it over. An ancient manor surrounded by a thick cluster of trees. It looked so old and unwelcoming, not a place he imagined his son would grow up. He lay his purple bike next to the old and rusted black iron fence that encircled the manor and slowly stepped towards the door.
When he got inside the house Milly directed him upstairs, to the nursery. Once he was there Harwood felt a different kind of bad. The nursery was build adjointly to Dilly’s own bedroom and it was large and nicely decorated, filled with toys and other baby stuff Harwood couldn’t even name. Taking it all in made Harwood realize that Dilly had been living with their son for nine months now, and while his thoughts about the baby were some abstract notions for the distant future Dilly had been living with them constantly, and preparing for it, probably from the day she found out she was pregnant. He didn’t even have a crib or any diapers in his house.
But there was even more than that, it was the way Dilly looked at him, the little baby in the crib. Her face was so filled with love as she softly placed him in his crib and adjusted his little blanket. It made Harwood realized that this was where Billy belonged, with his mother. For now at least.
The life at the Pidgin household was always and excitement. In a way it followed a pattern, Harwood would come over, spend time with son, hold him, play with him, learned to change his diapers, and sometimes just watched him sleep, looking so sweet and peaceful the tiny little thing. Dilly got to her feet faster than Harwood would have expected, she cooked dinner for them and they would sit down and talk, mostly about Billy.
But even if it seemed like a pattern there would always be surprises, of course the parenting it self was a challenge since it was new to both of them but it was also the house itself that kept throwing surprises Harwood’s way. Everything about it was just so peculiar, the outdoor benches in the kitchen, the gym/laundry room, the foosball table in the sitting room, the trampoline…
One evening Harwood was alone with Billy up in his room when he felt something warm brush against his leg. Startled he stepped away only to see a thin cat staring down at his foot. The cat was gray with dark spots all over her body. She lifted her yellow eyes at Harwood and she must not have liked him very much because she hissed at him digging her claws in the carped.
“There is a cat in Billy’s nursery!” Harwood told Dilly who was mixing something up on the stove.
“J.J.” She said without turning. “He has been with us for years.” She added. Harwood ‘s eyebrows narrowed.
“And you think it is safe, him being so close to our son?”
“Of course it is.” Dilly said coldly. “J.J would never hurt anyone.”
“I don’t think he likes me.” Dilly chuckled.
“Maybe you still smell like Rookie to him.”
“That is possible.” Harwood smiled at last. It was still pleasant spending time with Dilly but he felt as something between them has shifted. He assured himself it was because they were parents now. They were just adjusting to new roles, it was normal for romance to be put aside.
But despite all his assurances when his phone rang one morning and despite seeing it was Pattina Knack again Harwood picked up the phone.
“Well good day Harwood, nice of you to pick up.” Pattina’s familiar voice spoke on the other end. Harwood felt the sweat on the hand he gripped his phone with. His old heart was beating like crazy but he steadied his voice.
“Good day Pattina. I usually do pick up the phone, you just might have caught me in a bad moment it’s all.”
“Well I hear you are a father now.” She spoke softly. “I figured congratulations are in order.” Harwood smiled. Sometimes he forgot what a small town Twinbrook was, rumours must have started spreading before he even managed to pedal home from the Pidgin mansion the first night he had visited there.
“Thank you Pattina. That is nice of you.” He said politely.
“Well pass my congratulations on to the happy mother as well.” Pattina added. “I hope to see you someday. ” She added. “Betty Wills has been promising you performance at the Red for months now, yet I never catch you in there. Hopefully you will find the time one evening.” Harwood tensed unsure what to say.
“Maybe one day.” He muttered.
“That is what I said. Goodbye Harwood.” She hung up before he could respond.
Harwood wiped away his forehead with his hand and proceeded to lean on one of his kitchen counters. It couldn’t be healthy for a man his age to feel like this. Yet he could not help himself, he could not be indifferent , not when it came to her…
But as the day went on Harwood managed to still himself. He was not some lovesick teenager, and he refused to act that way. He and Dilly might not have made an official commitment, and yes things were not all roses between them, but they had a son together. And for his sake, for Billy’s sake, he should not go swoon over Pattina Knack yet again.
And at that moment Harwood was really happy with himself. Not for a single moment did he imagine that the mother of his son had an unpleasant surprise of her own….