Today’s Monday Flash Fics left me stymied for a while. I’m not one to write about babies much, and I couldn’t think of a character who might interact with a baby off the top of my head, not at first. Then I remembered one fellow who never got so much as a single line, though we know he’s kind, and a nice guy, and devoted to his family business. So, I went with Kevin from Handmade Holidays.
“Anyway. That’s the problem,” Kevin said. He’d been talking through the situation for the last half-hour. “I need to find someone who wants to be with me, but also wants to be here on the farm.”
Bobby reached out and put his hand over Kevin’s lips.
“Is that your way of saying I should shut up?”
His nephew cooed. Alongside gurgling and crying, it was pretty much the full range of his communication abilities.
“You’re right. Uncle Kevin is getting depressing.” He kissed Bobby’s forehead, and then picked him up. He swaddled Bobby, and transferred him to the crib. Feeding had gone well. Bathing had gone well. Now he’d see if he could pull off the perfect trifecta.
He turned on the baby monitor, and glanced at the small bedroom. It had been the nursery since before he was born. The farmhouse had been his grandfather’s. Then this father’s. And now his. There was history here. This was his life.
Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to be a particularly appealing life from the outside.
“Sleep well, little bear.”
Kevin wound the mobile, flicked off the light, and pulled the door almost all the way closed.
Downstairs, he poured a coffee, and tried not to notice it was almost the last of the blend Haruto had left at the farmhouse. One by one, all the reminders were fading. That was a good thing.
Just like the thing they’d had.
Kevin sighed. He was not going to rehash this again. For one, he was alone, so it was a pointless exercise, and for another, the reality was Haruto was gone, and it didn’t matter if Kevin came up with a brilliant argument for him to stay.
It was too late.
Haruto was back in the city, and Kevin was here on the farm.
He drank his coffee and read in the kitchen, which was where he was when his sister arrived.
“You look relaxed,” Wendy said.
“You don’t,” Kevin said. Her shoulders were set, and despite the sundress she wore, the overall look was a far cry from someone who’d had a rare baby-free night out with her husband. “Everything okay? Bad date night?”
“What? No,” Wendy wouldn’t meet his eyes. “No, not at all. We went to the hotel for dinner, and caught a movie. It was nice.”
“Okay,” Kevin said, waiting.
“The thing is…” Wendy started, then stopped.
“Just say it.” He smiled. He and Wendy hadn’t always been close, but after they’d graduated high school, they’d found they’d had more to talk about than they’d known. And Kevin coming out had changed things, too. Wendy had been amazing about it. Oneida wasn’t exactly metropolitan…
That made him think of Haruto again. He shook it off.
“We’d like to work the farm.” Wendy said in a rush, like she’d been holding it back.
Kevin smiled. “That’s great, I’d love the help, and…” His smile faded as he saw her face. “You don’t mean helping.” She’d grown up here, too. She’d finished her degree, gotten married, and her husband was just as much a farmer as she was.
Why didn’t I see this coming?
“Owen and I have been talking about it for a while.”
“But he sent you here by yourself,” Kevin said.
“He thinks you don’t like him,” she said.
“I’m not much liking him right this moment.”
He took a deep breath. “Pa left the place to both of us. And I kept it going while you did school.”
“And I love you for that. But maybe now you could go to school.”
He snorted. Him, back at school? Then he thought of something else. “And Ma?” Their mother lived with him, here in the farmhouse. And probably worked too much, too. She had a knack with the lambs, though.
“She’d stay. I mean, live with us. Here. Help out with Bobby.”
“So it’s just me getting kicked out, then.”
Kevin looked at her for a long moment. Her hands were clasped, and the line of her shoulders… She wanted this. Bad.
“This is all I know how to do,” he said.
“That’s not true,” she said. “This is what you started doing because Pa died, and I was in school. You were half-way to being a mechanic.”
“I love farming.”
“I know,” Wendy said. “So do I. That’s why I spent four years learning about dirt.”
He got up, and spread his arms. “Okay.”
Wendy blinked, taken aback. “What?”
“Okay.” He rubbed his face. “But, if you need any help, any time…”
“Oh my God, Kev… You mean it?”
“I mean it. This is a family business. You, and Owen, and Bobby? You’re a family. You can do more with this place than I can.” He swallowed. “I’m… just me.”
Wendy hugged him. “You aren’t just anything.” Then she pulled back, and regarded him. “Ru was an idiot.”
“Don’t,” he said. “He wasn’t.”
“Hm,” she said, not really agreeing. “How was Bobby?”
“Total angel. Ma read to him, then I fed him and bathed him and he’s out cold in his crib.”
“You should be a daddy.”
“Not likely,” Kevin winked. “I don’t think I can get pregnant.”
“Very funny,” Wendy said. She squeezed his shoulder. “I met Owen at school.”
“I’m not going back to school. I’m not a kid anymore.”
“We can argue this tomorrow.”
Kevin laughed. “Okay.”
After she’d taken Bobby and left, Kevin went to his bedroom, stripped, and climbed into bed. Usually, he could sleep at will. It was a necessary skill for the hours he kept. But tonight, he stared at the ceiling.
He didn’t want to try school. He hadn’t been good at school. And Wendy would let him work on the farm. No doubt she and Owen would build the place up to something amazing. Mostly Wendy. Owen was a nice guy, but she was smart. She’d know what to do.
Was that enough?
Kevin honestly didn’t know.
He’d check out the local colleges in the morning.
Maybe just one course.