Connector – Part 2

At least the day had been cool.

Heading home from visiting Will, Jake just kept reminding himself that at least the weather had improved. Nothing else seemed to be going well.

It had only been 24-hours since all the drama erupted.

Eager to pour himself into working that morning, he found himself alone at the greenhouse with nothing but excuses from everyone else. With no one else around to help out, he had patiently kept the community garden center open until just after noon. By then it was clear that no one was even going to come by to check on their plants.

He closed up shop early, sent each of the other boys a text that he was coming by, and headed out to check up on his friends. He never could sit still when so many people seemed so unhappy.

Charlie was his first stop.

He had seemed a little on edge, coping with his impatience by smoking weed and playing video games. Maybe not the healthiest choice but Jake wasn’t about to be a hypocrite and stop him. It could’ve been the joint they shared, but by the end of his visit Jake had found his own patience wearing a little thin.

He had been disappointed when Paolo told him to not stop by. They had things they needed to discuss about finishing up the panel installation; something Jake was eager to get out of the way. There was just something about his text that had felt off. Jake opted to not push it.

Will was still a mess.

After checking his stitches over, they had sat on the couch and watched some sappy drama Will had seen a thousand times. It was something Will used to watch with his mother when she was sick, so who was Jake to say no? After a few episodes of the characters intentionally miscommunicating with one another – leading to an unrealistic happy ending – Jake had seen enough and left Will to his binge watching.

Between his friends feeling like crap and the greenhouse having been empty, he was feeling defeated.

The sight of Abi’s car in the long gravel driveway wasn’t helping his mood either. He had purposefully avoided going to dinner at her parent’s this week, citing Will as the reason. Their understanding and disappointment felt like lemon juice in a wound he wasn’t even aware he had.

As he enters the house, he hears Abi shuffle out from the bedroom at the other end of their small rental home. “Hey,” she greets, making her way over to him, “I brought you back some leftovers. Mom made some squash lasagna that came out pretty good.”

“Thanks.” He murmurs in reply, heading towards the fridge to fish out the plastic container of food.

“They all missed you tonight.” She gives his shoulder a kiss as she joins him in the kitchen. “How is everyone doing?”

Like shit, is what he wants to say. Instead, he throws the plastic container in the microwave and watches it spin for a few seconds as his mind tries to find a nicer way to say things.

“Charlie’s fine. Will is still a mess but his stitches look good, the puffiness has gone down. Didn’t get to see Paolo.”

“Oh, weird. Did he say why?”


The microwave chimes and he stirs the lasagna, breaking apart its layered structure and turning it into a mass of slimy zucchini, cheese, and tomato sauce. He stares at it for a second. Something about it reminds him of how he feels; a mass of everyone else’s problems all mashed inside him.

He throws it back into the microwave, slamming the door after it by accident. Out of the corner of his eye he sees Abi give a start. She looks him over, eyes wide and eyebrows pulled in together; her look of concern. Exactly what he didn’t want.

Jake sighs.

As he waits for the timer to ring, he reaches into the junk drawer to grab out his cannabis equipment. To his surprise a joint is already rolled and waiting for him.

“Thanks.” He mumbles as he sticks it behind his ear.

“I figured it had been a long day.”

Silence again. The microwave continues to hum.

“Jake, can we talk about something?”

The sound of Abi’s soft voice raises the hair on the back of Jake’s neck. He breaks out into gooseflesh. “About what?”

Abi hesitates for a moment, picking at her bottom lip. Her tell that things are about to get serious.

“Mom…” she sighs, her hand dropping from her lips, “I…do you want to have kids or not?”

“This again?” Jake slams the drawer shut without meaning to. “Why do we have to talk about this tonight?”

“Mom was pestering. And…and…I just need to know.”

“Why is this so important? Can’t she just lay off.”

“She just wants grandkids…”

“Then she can go work with you at the daycare,” he snaps.

Abi’s index finger begins worrying at a spot on her lower lip. “Be fair, please.”

He closes his eyes, but the mashed layers of feelings are difficult to make sense of. “Let’s drop it.”

“We always drop it. Why can’t you just give me an answer?”

“Because, Abi, no one fucking cares what I want.” It takes him by some surprise but once he’s said it, more words just tumble out after. “Charlie wants this. Will wants that. You and your mom want kids. You all have your own agendas and expect me to just go along with it. ‘Jake will take care of it.’ ‘Jake is so responsible, he can handle it.’ Do any of you ever fucking ask me what I want? No.”

“I don’t think that’s true…”

“Who does everyone call on when shit goes sideways? Who ends up thanklessly making sure things get taken care of?”

“You do…”

“Right! Me!”

“All the more reason you’d make a great dad…”

“I don’t want to be a fucking dad, Abi.”

Abi stops picking at her lip, the corner of it caught between her thumb and index finger. She still looks at him with those wide eyes.

The microwave beeps finished.

“Why not?” She asks in a hushed tone.

The microwave beeps again.

“Because I’m a fucking loser who can’t even get out of this shitty town like I promised you.” The microwave beeps a final time and he resists the urge to punch it. “I don’t want to be here.”

Without waiting for her to respond, he walks over to the front door and grabs up his keys.

“Where are you going?” Abi’s voice cracks, if he waits even a second longer she’ll start crying.

“Somewhere else. I don’t know, Will’s.”

He throws open the door and walks out to his truck, not even bothering to shut the door. Abi stands on the stoop, a hand on her chest while the other hangs at her side. The sight of her being so helpless and lost makes him sick to his stomach for some reason.

He ignores the feeling, hops into the truck, and starts the engine in a hurry. Not wanting to give her the chance to stop him, he quickly backs out of the driveway and into the night.


Leave a Reply

Only people in my network can comment.