Status: Coming soon...

Parts of Me

Ten Years Old

I spend a few minutes lying in bed beside Dakota before I know I have to get up and ready for the day. It’s a Saturday so the boys don’t have school; meaning we can all sleep in.
I roll over onto my side and stare at her sleeping form. She’s been up late the past couple of nights writing for the magazine she works at. She’s no longer a freelance writer, having secured a job with one of Arizona’s biggest music magazines two years ago. She’s pretty high up in the company, due to her talent for writing and her hard work. She deserves to sleep in on a Saturday.

I however, have a date with my ex-girlfriend.

I sigh and manage to pull myself out of bed, stretching my arms before looking around for my clothes. I pull something on and make my way out of our bedroom (she’s officially moved in) and downstairs to the kitchen, where I’m surprised to find both Mesa and Phoenix awake and eating cereal at the kitchen bench.

“You boys know you don’t have school, right?” I chuckle as I open the fridge, in search of something to eat. Last night really tired me out, that’s for sure. The past week my mind has been elsewhere and I’ve been incredibly stressed ever since seeing her. Luckily for me, I’ve been blessed with a girl who knows how I work and knows what I need. To say last night was un-stressful is an understatement.

“We’re going down to the skate park with Jaxon and his friends.” Mesa states. “Dakota’s taking us because it’s near the book shop she wants to go to.”
She’s such a cute nerd.

“Okay, but give her a few hours, alright? She’s a little tired after work yesterday.” I nod, grabbing the bread and closing the fridge behind me as I go to make some toast. “So I’m going to see your mom today.” I remind them, glancing over my shoulder at the two of them.

They both look up at me and nod slowly.

“Now are you sure you don’t want to meet her?” I ask carefully, “you know I’m not going to be mad or anything; you’re allowed to see her if you really want to.” I inform them, as hard as it is for myself.

They look between each other and back to me.

“I don’t want to.” Mesa responds quickly and shortly.

Phoenix shakes his head, looking down at his cereal. “Me neither.”

“Okay,” I sigh, jumping slightly as the toast pops up out of the toaster. That always got to me. “It’s your decision-“

“She’s not our mom,” Phoenix mutters.

I look up; surprised it was him that said that. Mesa’s always been the more…opinionated out of the two, with Phoenix never really giving away as to how he feels. He’s more like me, I guess.

“Moms aren’t supposed to bail on you. She didn’t want to see us and I don’t want to see her.” He states firmly, pushing his bowl away from him and climbing down from his chair to leave the kitchen.

I’m left with my oldest son, who looks just as confused as I am. “Do you feel the same?”

“I just don’t want to see her yet,” Mesa shrugs simply. “He’s more angry than I am, dad.”

I nod slowly, thinking it over. Taking my plate, I go and sit in Phoenix’s spot beside him. “He’s a little more sensitive than you are, I guess.” I muse.

Mesa gestures in agreement. “That’s for sure.”

I chew on my toast and drink the rest of Phoenix’s juice that he’d left behind. “Just…make sure you’re looking out for him, y’know? You’re a little bit stronger than he is, so I need to know that you’re taking care of him.”

“I am,” he nods slowly, “I always am.”

“I know kid,” I sigh, squeezing his shoulder. “I just worry about you two sometimes. If ever there’s something you wanna talk about, you know I’m here. And Dakota too, now that she’s living with us, you can go to her any time.”

“I like that she’s living with us.” Mesa mumbles, finishing up with his cereal.

“Yeah? Is that because you have a crush on her?” I smirk, looking over at him.

“Dad!” He whines, punching me in the shoulder. “Shut up!”

I let out a laugh, draping my arm around his neck and pulling him in to ruffle his hair. “It’s okay kid, but she’s so out of your league.”

“She’s out of your league too,” Mesa insists, “you should marry a troll- one that lives under a bridge! But even she’d be better than you!”

Oh the charm of the videogame influenced ten-year-old mind. I’ll be blaming ‘Cool Uncle Garret’ for that one.

“Oh I’m sure,” I laugh, giving him a little shove. “You’re just jealous.”

“No I’m not. You always kiss. That’s so gross.” Mesa scowls, rolling his eyes as he neatens up his hair.

“Kissing is not gross,” I scoff, taking another bite of toast. “It’s what grown ups do, kid.”

“If that’s what grown ups do, I never want to be a grown up.”

I can’t help but laugh; he has no idea.


“Take it easy, okay? Just stay calm and hear her out.” Dakota murmurs as she straightens my shirt. There’s really no need for it but she does it anyway.

I nod and take a deep breath. “It’ll be fine; I’ll be fine.”

“Of course you will,” she smiles softly, rubbing my arm. She leans in for a kiss, but I stop her. “Mesa finds our kissing gross,” I murmur to her, looking over shoulder as the boys drag their skateboards into her car. “I don’t want to make him throw up his breakfast.”

“Oh okay,” Dakota laughs, giving me a quick hug. “We’ll save that for tonight than.”

“Can’t wait,” I groan in to her ear before pulling away. “I have to go, I’m already late and she’ll probably think I’m doing this on purpose.”

“And we don’t want that.” Dakota nods with a small smile. “Okay, good luck bub. You’re going to do just fine.”

“It’ll be fine. And thank you for taking the boys today. I appreciate it.”

“Not a problem. Now go before you change your mind. Call me whenever, babe.” She says with a quick kiss before heading to her car.

I get into my truck and sigh, running a hand through my short hair. I can’t believe I’m really going to see her; after all these years of not knowing a thing.

I turn on the radio to distract me as I drive to the coffee shop that we always used to frequent. That’s the one place of ‘ours’ that I’ve stopped going to over the past ten years. I still remembered the route there, unfortunately; that was something I couldn’t seem to forget.

Within twelve and a half minutes, I’m there and the familiarity is all too much. I can’t believe this is about to happen; it’s crazy to think I’m in a completely different place to her; we’ve been apart for ten years and I’ve moved on with another woman that made me feel so much better than Emily ever did. I never thought that could be possible. I’ve grown to take away this old part of my heart and replace it with a new, healthier part.

I take another breath and get out of my car to head inside the coffee shop. I spot Emily immediately; she’s over in the corner hunched over her phone. When I approach she looks up and stands, as if we’re supposed to hug or shake hands.

“Hi,” she greets, rubbing the back of her neck; a habit she got from me.

“Hi.” I nod back swiftly. I don’t know what else to give her.

“Sit?” She mumbles, nodding towards the booth.

I nod again and sit down. She sits across from me and fiddles with the straw in her iced tea. “So. You wanted to talk.” I state bluntly, waiting for her to take over. She looks incredibly nervous and I can’t help but feel sorry for her.

“Uh-yeah,” she nods, running a shaking hand through her hair. “I see you’re doing well, and that’s all I really wanted, John. When I left, it wasn’t because of you.”

I roll my eyes; unable to believe she’s started with the weakest line in history.

“Okay, so what, was it because of the boys? You left me a letter, six years ago but all you said was that you weren’t ready to be a mom. Do you think I was ready to take on two newborn babies I could hardly tell apart?!?” I hiss, making sure to keep my voice down low. Apparently a couple of fans saw us talking quite heatedly in the record store the other day; which sent the fan base into a frenzy. Back in the day they all used to know and follow Em, before she disappeared from social media completely; they knew we were expecting and they knew we were together. So, they noticed when she disappeared not long after the boys were born. So when they saw us in the store the other day, someone snapped a picture and posted it online, making my life more difficult than it already is. Bless them.

“Of course you weren’t, but you got ready, John.” Emily sighs, shaking her head. “What I was going through…it was so much more complex than just being nervous as a first time mom.”

“Well than explain to me exactly how complex it is, Emily.” I snap, sitting back in my seat. I’m not in the mood for bullshit excuses today and I think she can see that.

Emily takes a deep breath and looks up from her hands to make eye contact with me. “I was suffering extreme anxiety. My doctor said it was so bad that I would more than likely suffer post-partum depression from having the boys. Leading up to the birth I was freaking out; I hid this from you so you’d just think I was nervous, but inside I was a mess, John.”

I frown, shaking my head. “No, I would have noticed this. I took so much time off so we could get ready together. We were doing it together- we were handling it.” I fight back.

She gives me a sad smile. “You know how the boys were early? By a few weeks?”

I nod slowly. “Yeah? So?”

“So, that was because of the overwhelming amount of stress I was going through; my body stopped functioning properly for them. I was having panic attacks while you were in the studio, I was breaking down during doctors appointments; I was taking so much medication to calm myself down that I basically pushed them out of me much earlier than they were supposed to come out. I still went through post-partum depression, John,” she chokes, looking away so I wouldn’t see the tears.

I sit there with my jaw open, having trouble taking it all in. “Em…”

“It got really bad- I told my parents to tell you they hadn’t heard from me, but I was staying with them in California when I left the hospital. I…I tried to take my own life a week after they were born; I hated myself for leaving them John, but I had no other choice. If I were to stay, I would have made you miserable; I would have driven you away from your sons. You would have wanted to leave me, so I did it so you wouldn’t have to be the bad guy. I did it so you wouldn’t have to go through a life of not having them around, because God knows it’s been hell for me.”

I sink back into my seat, taken back by everything that’s left her mouth. She put herself through hell for those two and I didn’t even know it. How could I not have seen this?! All these years I’ve been holding anger for her, when it’s myself I should be angry with. Maybe if I’d paid a little more attention to her she’d have felt safer; she wouldn’t have attempted to take her own life. “I…I don’t know what to say.”

I take her hand across the table, staring down at her thin, slender fingers. For so many years I was angry she never gave me the chance to put a ring on one of those fingers. I became so angry about how she left me, that I didn’t realise how much she would have felt over leaving the boys.

“I didn’t want to leave them, John. You have to believe that- what mother wants to leave her children? But I had to- I had to do it to go get better, they deserved better. The first month was hell for me, but eventually I got better. I know leaving the way I did was wrong, but for the state I was in…there was no other choice.” She stresses, squeezing my hand. She feels so familiar, so safe. I’ve missed this feeling, beneath all of the hate and anger.

“There was always another choice,” I sigh, running my free hand over my face. “You could have told me how you were feeling.”

She chuckles sadly. “It wasn’t that easy, John. It never is. I didn’t want you to know because I didn’t think you would understand. I wasn’t thinking straight.”

I nod slowly, dropping my head into my hands. “I just…I can’t believe I didn’t notice any of it. Shit Em, you were so good at hiding how you felt.”

“I know,” she nods, dropping her hands into her lap. “I know that, but I thought I was doing it for your own good. You were already going through so much at the time. But…I knew you were a lot stronger than you gave yourself credit for- I knew you would be able to raise them on your own.”

Now I guess it’s my turn to be honest.

I glance up at her, looking into her eyes. “The day we got home from the hospital, I called Ashley- y’know Tim’s Ashley? I called her over to babysit the boys…then I went to California with Dirk for three weeks.”

She looks surprised, but shows no sign of judgement. “I can understand that.”

Yeah; only because she did worse. Fuck- I shouldn’t be thinking like this.

“You’re just saying-“

“John, I totally would have expected that from you.” Emily insists, putting a hand on my shoulder. “You completely deserved those three weeks. I know how you work; you would have needed that time to get your shit together and rethink everything. It wasn’t you being a bad father; it was you being a great father. You had to get ready to adapt and you needed to do it away from everything. I completely get it.”

I sigh deeply and look at her; I forgot how she knew me so well. All of our better memories rush back to me, reminding me of how happy we were at one point. Now here we are, ten years later with two kids and not the family we’d originally planned for. Who would have thought ten years down the track we’d be talking in a coffee shop while I’m seeing someone else?

“So have you been seeing anyone over the past couple of years?” I ask curiously; I want her to be happy too. She deserves it.

Emily blushes and shakes her head. “Nobody serious. I mean, there was one guy about a year ago, but that was casual dating and sex for the most part.” She shrugs.

“You didn’t have to mention the sex.” I blush, looking away.

Emily lets out a laugh. “Oh come on. Do you remember how the boys got here?”

“I know that, it’s just weird, is all.” I chuckle, running a hand through my hair. “You’ll find him one day, Em.”

“Part of me thinks I already did, I just let him get away.” She muses, looking down at her hands with a frown. “I’m sorry for hurting you, John. I know you’re happy with Dakota and I have no intentions to come between you for any reason at all, but I am sorry for leaving you after everything we’d been through. I’ve apologised for leaving the boys, but I’m sorry for hurting you.”

I give her a sad smile. “It’s all in the past, darlin’.”

She returns the smile and gives me a thoughtful look. “So do you think you’d be okay with keeping in touch? I want to try and fix the non-existent relationship I have with the boys.”

My smile falters at the mention of them. Fuck. How was I supposed to tell her?

“What?” Em frowns.

“I uh, I spoke with the boys through the week and this morning too,” I begin, but she seems to figure it out before I have the chance to say it.

“They don’t want to know me.”

I sigh, shaking my head. “It’s not you, Em. They’re still young and they don’t really understand. Phoenix is more ‘mad’ than anything, but they’re just kids. They’re not ready yet.” I try to explain, but I see the way her eyes water up just slightly. “It’s a huge thing to adjust to- they’re not used to the idea of meeting you right now, is all.”

“I knew I’d fucked it up before I even had the chance.” She sighs, wiping her eyes.

“You haven’t fucked up, just gotten off on the wrong foot.” I try, my attempts at lightening up the situation.

“Oh shut up,” she scoffs, breaking out into a chuckle as she looks away. “Just let me hate myself.”

“Soon, Em,” I murmur softly, “they’ll come around, alright? Just don’t give up just yet.”

“Hold onto my number,” she nods quietly, “I don’t plan on giving up this time.”


By the time I get home from seeing Emily, it’s almost late afternoon. I arrive home to somewhat quiet house, finding Dakota on the couch in the living room.

“Hey darlin’,” I greet softly, closing the front door behind me. “Where are the boys?”

“They’re upstairs watching a movie.” Dakota says as she puts her book down on the couch. It’s one I recommended to her a few weeks ago and I’m flattered to see she’s picked it up today. “How did it go?”
She asks as she opens her arms to welcome me onto the couch.

I throw my phone and keys down onto the table before collapsing beside her, burying my face into her chest. I need to just let out the emotions I’ve been holding in for the past couple of hours. I felt like it wouldn’t be right to cry in front of my ex-girlfriend over her past suicide attempt.
I’d rather do it in front of my current girlfriend as she holds me on the couch while my kids are upstairs. She knows me just as well so all she needs to do is wrap her arms around me.

I’m exhausted.
♠ ♠ ♠
THERE IT IS! What are we thinking now??? Have I managed to persuade some of you into not hating Emily?
I'm intrigued, let me know.