The next day when Vincent came over, I wasn’t really feeling it. He could tell almost right away. He set his bag down on the table and looked me over.
“Hey, are you okay, Pip?” he asked. I shrugged.
“I’m fine. Just had a crappy couple of days,” I replied.
“Why? What happened?”
“You know that guy I’ve been seeing?” He nodded. “We broke up.”
“Oh. I’m sorry to hear that.”
“It’s okay. It’s stupid. He seemed really nice, you know? Then he just got super jealous all of the sudden. I’m glad I figured it out now.” I went to the kitchen to check on dinner, and he followed me in and leaned against the doorjamb.
“What do you mean he got super jealous?” he asked.
“I told you it’s stupid,” I replied. I stirred the skillet on the stove, but he didn’t leave the kitchen. He was still waiting for me to elaborate. I turned the stove off and turned to face him. “He’s jealous of you,” I said. His eyebrows rose.
“Why is he jealous of me?” I sighed and pulled out the cute plates I got for our next shoot.
“He said I spend more time with you than I do him. Even though that was his choice in the first place because I invited him multiple times. I thought he was just being nice about it, but now I’m starting to believe he was jealous from the beginning. Now he says I talk about you too much.”
I saw him nod slowly as I assembled the plate. I wanted it to be pretty, but I wasn’t sure how to arrange it.
“Dinner’s ready,” I told him.
“Alright. I’ll get my camera ready.”
He returned to the dining room, and I finished the plate and brought it out to him. Something had been on my mind a lot lately. Especially since we got back in touch. And I really wanted to ask him about it, but I didn’t want to hurt him. But I knew if I was ever going to get around to it, today was the best day. I sat the plate down on the table and nervously fiddled with the props as he got his camera ready.
“So um—her birthday is coming up,” I said. I watched him as he focused on lenses. He nodded.
“Yeah, I know. Big five,” he replied.
“You still think about her a lot?”
“All the time.”
“Me too.” He set his camera down and reached into his back pocket. Then he pulled something out of his wallet and handed it out to me. It was a picture of a little girl with long curly blonde hair and a big goofy smile. I immediately dropped to my seat.
“Is this?” I started. He nodded and smiled.
“Her name is Erin,” he told me. “She started kindergarten in September. She’s really smart for her age. She likes to draw.”
“How do you know all this?”
“I kept in contact. I go down there to see her about once a year. I send her gifts. Sometimes she sends me things. She actually sent me some macaroni art not that long ago. They said she made it in school, and she was determined to give it to me specifically. She can’t write very well yet, but she tries.” I felt my eyes water, and I looked down at her again.
“Oh my gosh. I didn’t know. I thought since the adoption was closed I could never see her.” He smiled crookedly and went back to his camera.
“Paige wanted a closed adoption. I didn’t. Technically it’s open. Paige can see her whenever she wants. She just has to contact the agency. I wanted it to be open from the start. I’ve kept in touch since she was born.” I sniffed loudly.
“Where does she live? Is she close?”
“Pittsburg. I ride out there every year. I was planning on heading that way again in the spring when the snow clears up. You can come with me if you’d like.”
“I would love that. Yeah. I didn’t know you had contact with her. If I’d known, I would have tried sooner. And I would have tried to send her gifts and all that.” He smiled.
“Well, I sent her birthday gift out yesterday. I’m planning on sending her Christmas gift soon. We can send her something from you too if you want.”
“I’d love that. Thank you. She’s beautiful.” He laughed gently.
“She really is. She has my ears, though. That’s why they always keep her hair down.” I laughed.
“Your ears aren’t that bad.” His eyebrows rose.
“Have you ever seen me with my hair cut short? I look like Dumbo. This isn’t a fashion statement, Pip.” I laughed again. “The curls are from your side of the family, though.” I nodded.
“Yeah, those are definitely my curls. God, I can’t believe it. She seems so sweet.”
“She is. She calls me sometimes just out of the blue because she wants to say hi.” I beamed at him. “She calls me Binnie, though I guess that’s normal, right? She’s not really mine.”
“She is yours. Even if you’re not 'dad.” I stood up and handed the picture back over. “Thank you,” I said. His eyebrows furrowed.
“For showing me.” He smiled and turned back to his camera.
"Yeah, of course. And um—I'm really sorry about Sean. I know it was my fault. You were just trying to be nice. I really didn't—I didn't mean to come between you guys."
"Oh, it's nothing you did. Honestly, I'm kind of relieved. Now that he's gone—I don't really miss him very much. I don't even think..." I twisted my fingers, wondering if I should just shut my mouth before anything else spilled out of it. He looked up at me again, though, waiting for me to finish my sentence. I decided against finishing my train of thought. I felt my cheeks get hot, and I turned around and hurried into the kitchen to find something to drink. "I made a cake," I told him.
"Oh yeah?" I heard him ask from the dining room.
"I make one for her birthday every year." I turned back around and saw him look up. Our eyes met, and he smiled.
"Me too," he said.
So sorry. I scheduled this story for updates on Wednesdays. Idk if I already mentioned that. But then I got preoccupied again.