For the third time this week, Frances was crying in the middle of the night. John was exhausted. Working double shifts yesterday was the dumbest decision he made, but he really needed this money. Not even concealer could possibly hide the dark bags under his eyes. Looking back to his bed all warm and cozy, John lazily got up to go see Frances.
2 AM. John would lie if he said that it was the first time this week Frances woke him up in the middle of the night. Even when his daughter was crying, waking him up in the middle of the night, John adored Frances more than anything. He loved her curly, dark hair, the million of freckles covering her face, her little nose and her brown doe eyes. Frances was the most precious thing in the entire universe. John would, without a single doubt, die to protect her from any harm the world would —one day— expose her to.
Maybe John regretted his one-night stand with the mother of his child, but it had been months ago. Now, he had a child to take care of, to look after. Decisions he made in the past didn’t matter anymore, as long as he could give his baby girl a shelter, food and a hell of love; something John was sure they would never run off.
Just a few blocks away from John’s apartment, Alexander was trying his best to tweet another 51 parts thread to Jeffershit. He couldn’t just go to sleep without making sure the world knew how Macaroni Fucker was completely wrong.
“Papa?” Alexander immediately looked away from his phone, redirecting his attention on his Phillip, his Phillip who the eyes were currently filled with tears.
“Hey Pip, come here,” Alex sat on the edge of the bed, taking Phillip in his arms. As soon as he reached his father’s arms, Phillip immediately started crying. It broke Alex’s heart to see Phillip so scared, so broken. Alex ran his hand through Phillip’s messy curls, trying to calm him down. He could feel Phillip’s breaths against his (now wet) shirt becoming more regular. For once in his life, Alexander didn’t say anything. He just waited for Phillip to calm, recomforting him and waiting for sleep to come again. His dearest son in his arms, protecting him from his scariest nightmares. The night would be long, and so would be the next day. At the end of the day, Alexander had Phillip, and Phillip had Alexander. That was enough for the both of them.
Wednesday 17th January
“Come on John! It’s just single parent support group for God’s sake!”
John sighed and took another sip of his coffee, which was starting to get cold. Shame on Peggy who constantly made him talk instead of drinking. “I don’t want to go there Peggy. I just can’t. It’s not my place to be.”
Peggy sighed, loudly for the dramatic effect. “John, my dearest John. My very own best friend. My brotha’ from another motha’. My favorite homie. Please, do it for me- or at least, do it for Frankie. You’re not alone, you’re not the only single parent in this universe. You need this,” Peggy concluded before taking a sip of her tea.
Before John could even think of something to say, Peggy added, “Plus -if that can convince you- I’m sure you’ll find a gorgeous single dad with the best ass in all New York City. C’mon, we both know it’s been a while since you got laid.”
“That’s not true. You don’t know anything about my sex life, Peg. Nada.”
Peggy rolled her eyes. “John, if only you would have one. Besides, I’m 3 years younger than you and I had more guys in my DMs throughout my life than you could ever imagine.”
John kicked her under the table. “Hey, low blow. It’s not my fault if guys are not looking for a college drop out with a 1-year old girl.”
Peggy rolled her eyes again and crossed her arms over her chest. “Always the ‘I’m a single dad card’ John. It doesn’t work anymore. Error 404, dude. Try something new like ‘I’m just a chicken’ or ‘I have no game’, maybe that’ll work.”
“Hahaha, hilarious Peggy.” he deadpanned.
John looked at his daughter, drawing (or what you would define as drawing for a 1 year old) in her new coloring book on the other side of the table. Peggy was right, Frances deserved a good dad. Not a shitty one still struggling with his past demons with his daughter as his best friend and therapist.
“Okay. But just tonight. And if it’s horrible, you owe me 2 weeks of babysitting Frances.” Peggy nearly jumped in John’s arms.
“Yes! I swear Johnny boy you will not regret it for one cent. Love you! I have to go work, see ya later.” And just with that, John and Frances were alone again.
He looked at his daughter, now covered in (thankfully washable) ink.
“Well, this is gonna be fun.” he muttered to himself.
“Laf I repeat: I’m not gonna go to this support group to see 10 moms and maybe 2 dads fucking crying and telling me that I’m “so strong” for raising a child on my own. No fucking way.” Laf sighed, taking a sip of the office’s shitty coffee. Laf was working in the International News department of the newspaper, – The Washington’s Post — Hercules in the Fashion section and Hamitlon in Politics. The trio has been inseparable since they first met in college. You couldn’t find one without the others.
“C’mon Alexander, you know this is nothing but helpful for you and my dearest nephew.” replied Laf, taking a seat in Alex’s personal office.
“Yeah right. Phillip and I are just fine, thanks for asking.”
Hercules crossed his arms and shook his head as a sign of disapproval. “Stop lying to us. You can write whatever you want on your astonishing life as a single parent on your blog, lie to those you read it, but you can’t do that to me and Laf man. That’s not cool.”
“Fine. You want the truth? Here’s the truth then: I’m fucking tired. I’ve got 3 hours of sleep last night ‘cuz Pip keeps having nightmares about me and Eliza fighting. I paid 7$ for a coffee that tastes like complete garbage, and I have two articles to write for tomorrow. So no, I’m not fine. Pip’s not fine either. But I’ll find my way out of this shitty period in our lives without a support group. I’ve been through way worse and dealt with it on my goddamn own.”
“That’s exactly why you need to go. You never went through a divorce, Ham. You never had to take care of a 4 years old on your own. This is new. These people will help you.” argued Mulligan.
“It’s, how do you say, for the best.” Laf added.
“Laf don’t play the ‘I’m-French-How-Do-You-Say-That’ card, we all know you master English.” Alexander replied.
“Whatever. Alexandre, I’ll send you the address! You’ll love it! Say hi to my favorite nephew for me!”
It was 6 PM, and Alexander had to be at the support group for 6:30.
“Pip, where are you? Papa told you we had to go somewhere important. Please stop hiding, we can play hide and seek tomorrow.” Alex was desperate, and mostly sleep deprived. Part of him didn’t want to go at this stupid support group, but deep down, he know he had to. For his son, for his best friends.
“BOO!” screamed little Phillip as he jumped out of his hiding spot. Alex smiled, taking Phillip in his arms.
“We’re gonna go make some friends. Uncle Herc and uncle Laf said it’ll be fun for us. I’m going to talk with some adults while you’re gonna play with the other kids.”
Phillip pouted. “But I want to stay with you. Why can’t I stay with you, Papa?”
“I promise you, I would rather stay with you, Pip, but we can’t. Besides, you’ll have more fun with the other kids.”
Phillip hesitated for a bit before shooting Alex a big smile. “Mhm okay, but if I play with the new friends, can I have chocolate milk?”
Alex laughed. “I didn’t hear the magic word.”
Alex dropped Phillip back on the floor, chuckling. “Fine. Go put your coat and boots, I’ll go grab a bottle of chocolate milk in the fridge.”
Phillip kissed Alex’s cheek and quickly ran to the house’s vestibule. “Thank you, Pops!”
After two bottles of milk, a missing wallet at home and Frances not wanting to fall asleep in the subway, John finally made it to the front of the old bookstores were the meeting was supposedly held. This is going one hell of a night.