When it came to the kids’ actual birthday, I took them on a day trip to Disneyworld. I’d take them for longer at some point, but I thought it’d be a nice day out for them, at the very least. And they seemed to enjoy it, insisting on going on every ride at least twice in one day, eating possibly their own weight in candy, and only staying still long enough to buy something before they were off again.
Needless to say, they slept like babies that night. We’d barely made it out of the place before they started dozing off, and by the time we got back to the car, they were both sound asleep. It was kind of cute, really.
The kids having a birthday, however, meant that Maxxie’s was only a month away. I took the kids to go visit him, each of them putting some flowers on his grave. I took a bouquet of roses with me, leaving them there and sitting down to talk with Maxxie. I apologised for not visiting in a while, and just talked about everything. I got the feeling the kids were kind of bored, but they didn’t say anything, looking at a few of the graves nearby until I was done. We spent the night cuddled up on the couch watching movies, and I lit a candle for Maxxie, leaving it in the window. I’d heard this old story once, about people lighting candles in their windows so the spirits of their loved ones could find their way home, and I guess I liked to think some tiny part of it was true.
My birthday was something that was skimmed over. I was turning thirty two, and... I don’t know, I just didn’t feel like celebrating, for some reason. Maybe it was the fact that I’d spent five years without Maxxie, or maybe it was the fact that for the first time in forever, I was starting to feel... old, I guess. I mean, I know thirty two isn’t old, but it was starting to dawn on me that the older I get, the less chance I stood of finding someone else. After all, who the fuck would want to go out with a forty year old faggot like me?
And then before long, July was upon us, and with it came Lewis’ birthday. I’d been sorting out something for him with Karen, though we hadn’t gotten very far. In fact, I’d been busy looking for something to get him when he sort of appeared out of nowhere.
"You okay there, sport?" I asked, arching an eyebrow when he didn’t say anything.
"Danny doesn't like me" he said, his eyes wide, tears brimming in the corners.
"I'm sorry, baby" I said, wrapping him in a cuddle, playing with his hair. I planted a kiss on top of his head. "Maybe he doesn't like you yet because you're both so young?”
"Really?" he asked and I nodded. He sniffled. "What if he doesn't ever like me?"
"Well think of it this way, would you rather have him as a friend or nothing at all?"
"A friend" he said, his lip wobbling.
"Then if he doesn't like you, at least he's still your friend, right?" I smiled.
"But if I keep liking him and he keeps not liking me?"
"Then you'll just have to try and move on. You'll like other people"
"What if I'm like you and only like him til I'm old?"
I laughed. "Are you saying I'm old?" I pouted, ruffling his hair when he thought he’d said something bad. "Besides, I've liked other people since Maxxie"
"But what if it takes be that long to like someone else?" he asked innocently.
"I dunno, kiddo. Like I said, you're only young. Look at you, you're not even ten yet"
"I just want him to like me" he said, on the verge of tears again.
I cuddled him tighter, kissing his head again when he buried his face in my chest. I felt a wet patch start to spread across my t-shirt, and knew he was crying. He clung to me, and I stroked his hair soothingly, trying to calm him down. He stopped crying eventually, going off on his own for a while before coming back and asking to go back to Karen’s.
"Sure?" I asked, and he nodded.
I told the kids to behave themselves, driving him back there. More or less the second he was through the door, he ran upstairs to his room.
"What's wrong with him?" Karen asked.
"He's a little upset"
"He's got a little crush on Danny, and Danny doesn't feel the same"
"Ah. I'm sure he'll be okay after a while. I'll look after him"
I nodded. "I can't help feeling sorry for him, though. If I'm honest, I'm not even sure if Danny's capable of having a crush on anyone"
"What makes you say that?"
"Well you've met him" I chuckled. "He's not exactly the best with emotions"
"I know he's an odd boy, but surely even he can have a crush"
"Maybe. Maybe I'm just too used to Lily and Riley" I said, more to myself than Karen, and she nodded slightly. "Anyway, let me know how he is later on, yeah?"
"I'll call you"
"Thanks" I said, going and saying bye to Danny and the old man before heading back home.