Seven months later, I give birth to a healthy little boy, whom I named after my grandfather, Marvin. His last name is my maiden name and no one argues with me.
Now twenty-nine, divorced, and a new mother, I move back home to start a new life. My parents watch Marvin while I work. My boy grows into a healthy young man, loving football and video games. Though I see Jace in every moment of Marvin’s life, Marvin never asks about his dad, so I don’t bring him up.
One fall day of his freshman year of high school, Marvin says, “Mom, this old guy was at football practice today, just watching. When a coach went over to confront him, he said he was looking for me, but I have never seen him in my life.”
I drop the wooden spoon I was using to stir the sauce. I’m making spaghetti after my fourth diet fails. The sauce splatters all over my white shirt. “Why is it always sauce?”
Marvin ignores my question, “Do you know who it is?”
I shake my head and shrug it off, but the next day Marvin comes home with the same story. And the next day and the next. Until Friday night, game night. I sit in the bleachers with my parents and Becky with her family. We watched Marvin score a touchdown, but the team still lost.
I walk down the stairs and wait by the locker room. When Marvin comes out, I hug him and tell him he had a good game. After a few complaints about the complements, Marvin points over my shoulder, “That’s him. That’s the guy.”
Marvin indicates a guy lingering near the bleachers. The man has gray hair, is still trim, and wears a sport coat. A lump forms in my throat. Then the man starts walking toward us. I suck in a few quick breaths.
I calm myself enough to tell Marvin to find his grandparents, giving my son’s hair a good ruffle. He huffs before he goes, but my eyes never leave the man. He stops six feet from me.
Aware of my changed demeanor and appearance, I can’t bring myself to make eye contact with him. I focus on his shoes and notice the detailed stitching in the leather.
“You have got quite the player there.” He finally says.
“Thank you,” I thread my hands together. “What are you doing here, Jace?”
I nod slowly.
He hiccups, “Is he mine?”
I look at Marvin, talking to my grandparents. My dad has a hand on his shoulder and my mom is shaking her head. I close my eyes and nod, bracing for impact.
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