Status: Coming soon...

Parts of Me

Eighteen Years Old


I can’t help but laugh as little hands grab my shirt, tugging for assistance. I look down at my daughter and pull her onto my chest as I lay on our bed. Her blonde hair is all over the place and she has a scratch on her forehead from her fall last week, but those piercing eyes and that huge smile melt my heart every single time.

My daughter.

“There’s my little girl!” I coo, kissing her cheek. “How’s my baby doin’, huh?”


“I swear, that’s all she wants to say today,” Dakota hums as she enters the room. “Are you planning on getting out of bed anytime soon or are you two lazing around all day?’

I look down at my daughter and back to my wife. Two years in and that was still so weird to say. “I was planning on staying in bed all day with Sunny.”

Dakota rolls her eyes, shaking her head. “No. We’re not wasting another Saturday so you two can hide under blankets. We’re going to leave this house even if I have to drag you by the feet.”

I look at Sunny and she pouts. “Looks like mama’s spoken, angel.”

“Dada…” She whines, burying her face into my chest.

I let out a laugh and wrap my arms around her as I sit up. “What’d you have in mind?”

“Lunch with your parents, remember? They haven’t seen Sunny and Phoenix in almost two weeks and you know how they can be.” Dakota chuckles as she walks over to take Sunny from my hands so I can get up.

“We have three kids, y’know.”

Dakota sends me a look. “You know he’s not coming.”

Running a hand through my hair, I let out a sigh. “He broke up with Kia; he’s going through a break up.”

“That’s only recent; he’s been like this since fifteen, John. I don’t know if this is normal.” She whispers cautiously. Sunny is too caught up in playing with her mother’s hair to really give a damn about our conversation, not that she’d understand it anyway.

I don’t want to talk about it. Mesa hasn’t changed since our argument and me and him still don’t get along; I don’t know what else to do. He’s getting close with his mom and I’m happy for them, but it still hurts. I’m losing my first born and I don’t know how to stop it; he’s his own person and I don’t know what to do about that.

I look up at Dakota who’s watching me with a nervous expression. I paint a smile across my face and pull them in for a hug. “It’s okay. He’s going through a break up. He’ll be okay.”
He’s going to be fine.

“Alright we’re leaving in five minutes! Phoenix we need to go!”

Dakota’s been hanging outside the bathroom for the past five minutes trying to hurry Phoenix up, because he’s been recording something on his drum pad for his band. Yeah, band. Phoenix, Jaxon and two other guys from school started a band a year and a half ago and they’ve been going great, playing shows at local venues me and the boys used to haunt back in our day. The venues we play now are of much larger capacity, but nonetheless I’m incredibly proud of Phoenix for following his passion.

My wife sends me a glare from down the hall. “You had to tell him about the acoustics in the bathroom, didn’t you?”

“Darlin’, that bathroom is why I bought this house.” I chuckle. I stop when I see how serious she is.
“You go put Sunny in the car. I’ll get him and his brother.”

“I told you; he’s not coming.” Dakota hums as she passes me to get to the stairs; not without kissing me first. “He’s not that social anymore.”

“I don’t care, it’s his grandparents and he can afford to make an appearance.” I mutter, kissing her cheek before she leaves me to fend for myself. I have no confidence that I can successfully coax him out of bed, but I’m sure as hell going to try.

I knock on his door again before finally gaining the guts to open it. He’s in bed still, his covers up over his head. His curtains are drawn and his room is dark; this isn’t the little boy I raised.

“Hey kid, how’re you feeling?” I ask softly as I stand in the doorway. The last time I got too close he threw a history book at me. Those things aren’t light.

“Go away,” he sighs from beneath his sheets.

“We’re going to see grandma and grandpa…you know they’ll wanna see you with your brother and sister.” I state. “Why don’t you come out? For an hour or something, then you and your brother can come home.”

“I’m fine here.”

“Mesa- “

“I said I’m fine!” He yells, silencing me. “Leave me alone! Take your perfect son and your perfect daughter and just go without me!”

My eyes widen. That’s how he feels? He’s in over his head-

“Mesa- “

Suddenly, he gets out of bed and comes at me, grabbing the door and slamming it shut, simultaneously shoving me out of his room. He had deep, dark bags beneath his eyes and his hair was long and messy.
I can hardly recognise the kid, and that scares me.

“Dad, it’s best to just leave him,” Phoenix murmurs as he leaves the bathroom. “He just broke up with Kia…he’s upset.”

“Has he spoken to you?” I ask as we head downstairs.

Phoenix shakes his head. “He’s private…it’s a stage, dad. It’s teenage stuff, y’know?”

I nod slowly, even though I don’t believe him. “Yeah…okay.”

I lock the house up and we jump into the car, Dakota’s in the front seat and she’s eager to get going.

“He’s not coming?” She asks quietly as Phoenix climbs into the backseat.

I shake my head and place a hand on her knee. “Sunny all strapped in?”

Dakota nods and pulls out onto the road. “Y’know Phe, I understand that the acoustics in the bathroom are incredible, but- “

“But not when we have somewhere to be, I know. Sorry, I had something stuck in my head.” Phoenix admits sheepishly.

Dakota lets out a laugh. “You’re exactly like your dad.”

“Dada!” Sunny coos from her seat beside Phoenix.

“How’s the new song going?” I ask Phoenix through the rear view mirror. “You guys still having arguments?”

Phoenix shakes his head. “Nope. We got through all of that. Matt was just being difficult and Jaxon can be kind of…hot headed. It means a lot to everyone so they’re being emotional.” He shrugs. “Sometimes you gotta treat it like a business to figure shit out.”

“That’s true.” I nod. “Good job- “

“No cursing in front of your sister!” Dakota snaps, slapping my arm. “Did you just miss that?!”

“Sorry!” Phoenix whines. “It’s not like she can understand me!”

“You know she’ll copy you in seconds, Phe.” I state, just to get Dakota off my back.

“Sorry.” He mumbles, looking over at his sister.

“Sowwy. Sowwy dada!” Sunny coos sending me a grin.

I turn in my seat and reach over to grab her little foot, making her giggle. “Who’s my little sunshine? Who’s my little sunshine?!”

“God you’re so embarrassing.” Phoenix mutters beneath his breath.

“Aw, I think it’s sweet.” Dakota chuckles while I glare at my son.

“This is why you’re my favourite,” I tell my daughter. “You still love me. Those smelly boys are too old to love their old man.”

Phoenix rolls his eyes. “You make it incredibly hard.”

“Love dada!” Sunny beams, waving her hands in the air. “Pheee love dada!”

“That’s right he does!” Dakota laughs as she peers into the rear view mirror. “Phe loves dada!”

I look at my son, raising an eyebrow and wondering how far I can push him before he hurls himself out of the car. “Does Phe love dada?”


“Oh John dear, help me with the dishes.”

I stand from the table and do as Ma says, helping her clear the table. “That was great ma, thanks.”

“It was delicious, Jenny.” Dakota nods with a smile. She’s sitting beside my dad, who’s holding Sunny in his lap. I can see that she’s trying not to be too protective, but ever since my dad had his fall last year, he’s been a little…clumsy. We don’t want that to stop him from knowing his granddaughter, but I’ll admit that even I’m a little cautious over it. She’s my little girl, and I don’t want her getting hurt.

“Oh thank you sweetheart,” ma chuckles as we head into the kitchen. “I hope the chicken wasn’t overcooked.”

“It was perfect.” I laugh, pulling her into a hug. “Chill out.”

“I know you didn’t just tell your elderly mother to ‘chill out’, John.” She hums, staring me down.

I roll my eyes. “I’m sorry. But really, you need to stop worrying about everything. You were frantic the whole way through lunch.”

She sighs, shaking her head. “I can’t help it. Ever since the fall your father had…I can’t help but worry about everything.”

That worries me.

“Ma,” I murmur, pulling away. “He’s okay.”

“I just don’t know, John,” she hums, “he’s a good five years older than me and I’m not exactly young. We’re at that age where falling over can be fatal.”

“Don’t say that, I’m almost there too,” I groan, running a hand through my hair. “He didn’t hit his head; that’s the main thing.”

“He almost slipped in the shower this morning, I think I have to get him a chair so it doesn’t happen again.” She states. “I’m not strong enough to pick him up off of the ground.”

“Ma,” I say firmly, holding her tightly. “If anything ever happens, you call me. Or Ross. Or Shane. Okay? I’m not kidding- I don’t want you hurting yourself trying to help him. You call us immediately, alright? It’s our turn to look after the both of you.”

Ma’s eyes fill up with tears and she nods. “You know Grandpa John passed becausenof dementia sweets, sometimes it’s all I can think about.”

I shake my head slowly. “You can’t think like that- it’ll eat you alive.”

“You’re right,” she says as she takes a deep breath. “I’m being silly.”

“Yeah, and you’re scaring me in the process.” I scoff, shaking the thoughts from my head. I don’t ever want to see my parents in that kind of state; they’re way to strong for that.

“So, let’s talk about something else.” She insists as she pulls the dessert out of the fridge.

“Let’s.” I nod as I stack the dishes up and grab new plates.

“Like why I only have two grandchildren around my dining table.”

I roll my eyes. “Let’s not.”

My mother scowls and sends me a look. “Where is he, John? Excluding him from family gatherings is not helping your tragic relationship with your son and you know it.”

“You think I have any control over this? Ma, I can’t even drag him out of bed these days. He broke up with Kia, he’s going through stuff right now and me telling him what to do is only going to make things worse. He needs to deal with this by himself right now and I need to give him the space.”

“Leaving him at home isn’t going to make things better, that’s all I’ll say on the matter.”

“I think I know my kids a little better than you do, but thanks for the advice.” I mutter, not appreciating the ‘guidance’ on an issue she clearly knows nothing about. I never had this kind of relationship with her, so I don’t expect her to understand what’s going on between Mesa and I.

“Alright sweetheart,” she nods softly. “Take some of this pie home for him; it’s his favourite.”

I look down at the banana cream pie and I’ve never been so saddened by a dessert before. Mesa used to love coming to his grandparents’ house because he knew ma always made his favourite dessert- that or he actually got to help her make it.

“I will,” I nod, rubbing her back. “Sunny was really excited this morning to see you guys. She loves her grandpa.”

“And he loves her, very much dear,” ma sighs with a small smile. “I’m so thrilled you had a little girl, and with Dakota. She’s an excellent mother.”

“I know, I’m so proud of her,” I chuckle. “I can’t believe how lucky I am.”

“Do you think you’ll have any more kids?”

I roll my eyes. “Ma, I’m forty five years old.”

“So? If you’re anything like your father, you’ll have very good- “

“Okay please don’t finish that sentence,” I interrupt with a groan. “I may be almost fifty but I don’t need to hear that.”

I see the tears fill my mothers’ eyes and I can’t help but panic- she seems to be a lot more emotional than usual.

“My baby, is almost fifty.” She whispers. “Just yesterday you were my only child and now look at you. You’re a father of three, happily married and so successful. I’m so proud of my boys.”

“You’re just proud I had a child not out of wedlock.” I smirk, pulling her into a hug.

“Oh stop it.” She scoffs, holding me tightly. “I’ve never not been proud of you John, from the days those angels were born, I knew you were going to have a tough road ahead of you but I knew you’d be able to do it.”

“You knew Em was going to leave?” I laugh as we grab the plates and dishes to head back into the dining room.

“I knew someone wonderful was going to come into your life.”

We join everyone back in the dining room, bring the dessert out with us.

“So Phoenix, you got yourself a girl yet?”

A blush arises on his face at his grandpa’s question. Phoenix can be quite sensitive when it comes to this topic, and I admire that because it shows how respectful he is towards women. I know he’s still a virgin so it’s reassuring that he’s waiting until he feels the time is right for him, rather than giving in to peer pressure like I suspect his brother did.

“No,” Phoenix mumbles, looking at his hands. He’s never really been one to bring girls up with me, but I can usually tell when he’s hung up on someone; I actually think he’s seeing someone now, because of the way he’s been acting at home but he hasn’t brought it up with me and I have yet to meet her. I’ve decided not to do so until he’s ready; it’s his girlfriend we’re talking about.

“I’m trying to manage high school and the band right now.”

“Yes, you’re graduating soon!” Ma beams, “That’s so exciting!”

Phoenix nods. “Definitely. I’ve applied at a few schools here and there but as soon as I leave school the band and I are heading out on the road. We have a few shows booked on the coast already.”

“Like your old man, I see,” dad mumbles. “You’ll wanna have a back up plan, kiddo. We all want to see you do what you love, but as your dad knows, that industry is hard one to crack into.”

“He knows that,” I nod, “we’ve talked about it and Phoenix knows all of this. He’s still going to study part time.”

“Well that’s wonderful, dear.” Ma smiles warmly as she cuts the pie. “And Mesa? What are his plans? What’s he thinking of doing for a career?”

My mind draws a blank and it’s the first time in my life where I can’t answer a simple question about my own child. I look at Phoenix, but he shrugs.

“He doesn’t really have any ambitions in life.” Phoenix responds, rolling his eyes.

“Hey, don’t say that about your brother. He’s got plenty of ambitions.” Dakota states.

“Like?” I push. “I have no idea what he wants to do.”

“Well he’s applying for schools, isn’t he?” Ma asks, obviously not understanding that I truly have no idea what his future plans are. I’m a horrible parent- how could I not know this?

“I don’t know,” I sigh, angrier at myself than anything. “He’s going through a hard time.”

“So? That shouldn’t stop him from thinking about his future,” my old man interjects. “You were going through a hard time when the boys’ mother left but that didn’t stop you from raising them. You push through it and you move on.”

“Dad, it’s not that simple,” I scoff, “this is completely different. I didn’t have a choice- they needed me. Mesa…he’s a lot more vulnerable right now.”

“That boy has been left off too easy, John and you know it.”

I try to take a deep breath and not let his words get to me. I know he’s saying it out of our best interest, but he’s always been…passionate about these kinds of things and more often than not, that can lead to him overstepping the boundaries.”

“Dad. This is not the time or place.” I tell him softly, issuing in Phoenix’s direction.

He raises his hands in defence. “Alright. But he can’t postpone his future; it’s going to happen whether he likes it or not.”

I know that; doesn’t he think I know that? I’m just as terrified as Mesa is for his future. I don’t want him to throw it all away over a few bad months and a messy break up.
But pushing him into something he isn’t ready for is only going to harm our relationship and I won’t do that to him. I won’t.

Later on that evening, I go to check on Mesa, who is still in his room. I’m relieved to see him out of bed at the very least. He’s sitting at his desk reading a book I recognise from my own collection. He’s always been a big reader, that kid.

“Hey kid, how’re you feeling?” I ask softly as I stand in his doorway. I don’t want to impose like I did earlier- this time he might just get me in the face.

“I’m fine,” he replies monotonously.

I nod, not knowing what to say next. I’ve never felt this way before- I should be able to just speak to my son.

“I- “

“Do you mind? I’m trying to read.”

“Grandma made your favourite pie, it’s on the bench if you get hungry.”

He nods, but doesn’t look up at me.

I sigh, leaving his room and closing the door behind me.
I have no idea what to do anymore; I’m losing one of the best parts of me.
♠ ♠ ♠
:( poor John...