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Papa's In The House

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Michael sat on the edge of his bed, wondering exactly why his parents needed to talk to him at 4:25 in the morning. He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and reached for his glasses. He missed, fingers hitting his nightstand. Well, nightstand was a bit generous. It was really his laundry basket, always plump full and able to hold Michael’s laptop, phone and glasses. He started patting around his clothes for his glasses and Angela handed them to him. He pushed them up onto his face and he saw the faces of his mothers go from blurry but visible to clear. He could see every wrinkle on their faces and the tiniest trace of dried tears on Rose’s chin. The darkness in their eyes made his stomach churn.

Rose was fiddling with her crunchy blonde locks, pulling and swirling them downwards. They usually framed her face nicely, the bleach looking more natural than Michael’s own jet black hair. Tonight they looked as if they were made of cardboard, dead and lifeless. Angela had on her pajama robe, the one Rose and Michael picked out for her. It was flowery and very, very hot pink. It nearly hurt to look at, but they got it after making a joke neither of them remember. She absolutely hated it, and only ever wore it to cheer Michael up or ask a huge, relationship-straining favor. Oh no.

“Mom? Mamá? What’s wrong?” He asked.

Angela sighed and took her wife’s hand in hers. Rose started blinking rapidly. Not a good sign. Michael reached out and wrapped his hand around his parents’. It completely enveloped their smaller hands in a warm embrace. Angela felt her heart sink just a bit. He used to be so small…

“Did someone die?” He felt his heart speed up, slamming against his chest. His mind immediately wandered to the worst case scenarios. Was it Abuela? Pappy? Jeremy?

Michael’s worries melted away as Angela carded her fingers through his hair. She squeezed out leftover gel and decided to save the conversation of his showering for another day. Rose shook her head. Michael sleepily leaned into his mother’s touch. His body begged him to lay back down and pass out. The sound of his mom’s voice brought him back from drifting off.

“Hey, you know we love you, right Michael?” Rose asked, voice low and gravely.

“Of course I do. Why? Did I say something?” He looked at Rose, then Angela.

“No no, Mijo,” Angela assured him.

An uncomfortable silence fell. Michael could feel his shirt begin to stick to him as his back began to sweat. He brought a thumb to his ear and fiddled with the plug. Angela and Rose stared into eachother's eyes, silently fighting over who would talk first. After a solid minute, Rose cleared her throat.

“You know, um. When we adopted you, we brought your biological mother to America from the Philippines?” She asked, receiving a comforting squeeze from Angela.

Michael nodded. He never really knew his Bio-mom, and his opinion of her was the same as her opinion on him: ‘You exist. Cool. Have fun with life.’ She would occasionally send money and ask for pictures of him, most likely for PR reasons. She was a model now, and she was prospering. But sometimes the tabloids would talk, and she needed a story to fall back on and proclaim innocence. Michael pretended not to care.

“Yeah?” He shoved out his plug and pushed it back in, a nervous tick Jeremy gave him shit for.

“ know how she said. Um. Your biological father,” Angela pulled Rose close. They had prepared for this for a week. It was just as hard as they imagined.

“He’s dead?” Michael finished, unsure of where this was going. Old news. There was nothing new to be learned. Why should he care? What was this about?

Angela and Rose nodded. Rose squeezed her wife’s hand three times, a sign that she needed a break. Angela squeezed back and ran a hand through her hair.

“Well honey, she-” Angela had to take a breath. “-She lied to us.”

Michael leaned back and sucked in a breath. He didn’t say anything, prompting Rose to choke out a worried noise. Michael looked down at his knees and opened his mouth to say something before he was cut off by Angela’s voice.

“He’s alive, and he wants to meet you.”