After our bowls were clean and smiles covered our faces, I sent Essence off to bed. I was tasked with cleaning the kitchen because I didn’t want her too sleepy when it was time to wake up in the morning and neither did I want our laughter to lure Ever downstairs where we were.
As I cleaned the first bowl, the silence of my home lulled me. Peace. It was hard to come by, but home was where I found it. From Essence down to the last baby girl, my children offered most of it while my wife and family offered the rest.
While in deep thought, I realized there was nothing in the world that I actually wanted at the moment. Though the answer was usually more money, more happiness, more peace… For the first time, everything I had in my possession was enough. I wasn’t sure how long the feeling would last, but contentment consumed me and I had no complaints.
I finished my chore and headed upstairs. I walked into the bedroom to find my sleeping beauty, stretched out across the bed with Luca at her side. He clung to her more and more these days. I wasn’t sure if it was because he knew he wasn’t the baby anymore or if their bond was strengthening. No matter the case, it was painful to watch. She couldn’t move a centimeter without him right next to her.
I scooped him up in my arms and over my shoulder. His head full of blonde curls bounced as I transported him from our room to his. He’s upgraded and was now in a big boy suite. Some nights he loved it and others he despised everything in the room.
When I returned, Ever still hadn’t moved a muscle. My baby is tired, I concluded. I stood beside her, staring down and marveling at her rich complexion and near-perfect skin.
Just as I leaned forward to kiss Ever’s cheek, my phone buzzed in my pocket. Immediately, I stepped back in an attempt not to wake her. It continued to ring as I glided across the room.
I removed the phone as I slid the patio door backward. Several names danced across the screen. As soon as I answered the call, I wanted to hang up. Everybody was on the line.
Lyric’s voice made me reconsider. It soothed the ill thoughts running through my head. It didn’t matter that she was a fully grown-ass woman with a husband and shit of her own going on, she was forever baby girl.
“What’s good, baby?” I sighed, running my hand over my head as I looked at the small window where my image was.
“She the only motherfucker you see, nigga?” Lawe boasted.
At that moment, I reconsidered hanging up.
“Yeah, nigga, you ugly. Stop checking yourself out,” Laike taunted.
The two were insufferable apart, but when they were together… a shit show. Embarrassing, to say the least.
“Bright-skinned nigga shit,” Lawe cackled, finding himself funny.
“How are the girls, Ledge?” I ignored them both and decided to lend my attention to someone with a little more sense.
“They’re good, bro. What about your crew? Everybody aight?”
“You niggas catching up like we don’t text and talk every day. This ain’t a reunion between long, lost brothers.”
“Lawe, shut the fuck up,” calmly, I stated, “Everybody straight.”
“I miss you. I miss all of you. We’ve been seeing each other in passing but since Sunday dinner was postponed this month, I feel like it’s been ages since we were all together, just chilling.”
“What’s the plan, Lyric? Cut all that other shit out and get to the point. You the one called up.”
“Weeeeelllllll,” she dragged, “I was thinking we could all have a little get together at Luca’s next week. We have a few birthdays coming up and I figured we could celebrate together. Luca, my kid and yours have birthdays in less than two weeks. I’m too tired to even think of a party theme and I’m sick of looking at venues. I figured we could just do the Black folks thing and throw some meat on the grill, get some party games, have some music going, and play some cards.”
“Lyric, trying to have a hot dogs and regular kid's party? BBQ and normal kid's party? Is hell freezing over or some shit? All she know is top tier,” Laike joked.
“And, that’s what the whole shit she just named is… top tier. I haven’t been to a party that tops those kinds,” Ledge explained, “Ever.”
“Some bouncy houses for the kids to keep busy,” Lyric continued, “Maybe get someone with a pony to come out.”
“I’m with it. Just tell me what I need to do.”
“Ask Ever to make the cake… two cakes.”
“What about me?” Lawe interjected.
“Just bring your silly ass in town and have gifts for your nieces.” She responded.
“I’ll order the bounce shit you mentioned. What is it, again? Kleu! Baby, come ‘er.”
“I thought you said she was sleep?” Ledge asked.
“She bout to wake up, now.”
“Seriously? Leave her alone. We can handle it,” Lyric hissed.
“Nah, cause ya’ll be trying to lil boy me because I live in Berkeley. Fuck that, we pulling up with bounce houses, tap houses, dance houses, shake houses, the whole nine.”
“Tell ‘em, bro,” Laike suggested.
“This nigga,” Ledge tittered.
I could only shake my head and join in on the laughter. Lawe was ruthless in every aspect of his life. I’d strengthen my abs by the time I got off the phone with him for the night.
“Well, I’d assume you’d pay the company to bring them to us and inflate them in the yard. Otherwise, where will they fit in your car or Kleu’s? Or on the plane?” Lyric made sense of it all.
“I’ll rent a fucking 18-wheeler, then. And, bolt that bitch to the plane if I have to.”
“It’s not even that big.” Lyric was frustrated with his lack of knowledge and need to feel included in the festivities though he already was.
“Then how big is it?”
“Oh my God. Don’t worry. We’ll handle it. I’ll get the bounce houses.”
“If I show up and they already there, I’m busting all them motherfuckers with kids in them and all. How many you need? Bout eight? Why y'all got so many kids? What's wrong with y'all? Maybe we should take them to the bounce houses instead because that's a lot of houses for a lot of kids.”
The sound of a line disappearing wasn’t very surprising. Lyric ended her call and left the four of us on together.
“Did she just hang up on me like I won’t come to Channing?”
“I’m hanging up on your ass, too.”
“I’m not hanging up on you, bro. I’m riding regardless.”
“Well, I am,” I replied, ending the call right after. Lawe and Laike could continue their madness by themselves. I was ready to climb into bed with my wife.