**This conversation between Constance and Big Aaron takes place after the big fight between Aaron and Bakari. Hope you enjoy. **
I’d changed to my gown and sat on the edge of my bed trying hard to keep it together. I rocked trying to soothe myself and kept wiping my eyes. My baby was gone again. I knew him. He was not going to come back. No matter how hard I loved him, it was never enough. When I saw my destroyed living room, I already knew what happened. As angry as I wanted to be with Kam, for pitting my sons against each other, I couldn’t. Their battle started a long time ago and she was just the catalyst.
“Sweetheart, there’s nothing we can do. Let’s just go to sleep and talk about it more in the morning. Aaron is just mad right now but he and Bakari will be fine.”
I gritted my teeth. I loved my husband but he like his elder son could be so self-involved. “In what world are you existing right now? Did you see that living room? They could have killed each other tonight. Our older son is a grown man and if he says he no longer has a brother, then that’s what he means. And Kari doesn’t like being around us either, so I don’t think he’s ever coming back. You can’t make either of them do anything they don’t want to do. I need you to understand that we just lost our family tonight.”
“Connie, it is going to be fine. Aaron is just mad because Kari told Kam about our grandson, but he has to realize sooner or later the only one to blame is himself. We should have made him man up long before now and I’ll talk to him about forgiving his brother. And I’ve been talking and getting closer to Kari like you always wanted. He’s not going to disappear again.”
“Like I always wanted?” I got up angrily and put on my robe, unsure if I wanted to be in the same room. “You know what? I’m always trying to keep the peace among my men but it’s exhausting. You’re the main reason he doesn’t want to come home and then you say nonsense like you really didn’t want to be close to him – it was something I wanted. He loves you and is your son as much as Aaron.”
“I know that. How can you say I’m the main reason? I haven’t done or said anything cruel to him. Hey, where are you going?” He sat up in the bed, bothered. The only arguments we ever really had were about the boys. I truly loved being married to him and I know with every fiber of my being that he has always been faithful though I know he’d been tried over the years. He already would draw women to him like a moth to a flame because he was handsome and then add on the fact that he was a cardiologist and most of the moths would burn just to get close. As loving and affectionate as he could be to me, he couldn’t do it with his sons. Aaron was more like him and it never seemed to bother him, but Kari was different and needed his father’s affection.
“What’s done is done. You’re right we can’t do anything about it. I need to sleep in the guest room. I’m too upset.”
“Con, the boys will work it out. They always do.”
I closed my eyes standing by the door, realizing I was at fault for not including my husband on his family and I no longer wanted to carry this burden alone. “Not this time…it’s not just the fact that Kari told Kam the truth about Dominick.”
I came back to bed but sat on his side near him. He moved slightly so that I could have room but enough so he could wrap his arm around me. “They were fighting over Kam.”
“Listen to me, Aaron. They were fighting over Kam.”
He stared at me in disbelief. “Are you saying Kari hit on Kam? He wouldn’t do that. They’ve had their differences but…”
“Not just hit, she may be pregnant with Kari’s child.” I met his eyes with my own tearful ones.
My Aaron looked so confused and then his expression quickly changed to anger, “How could he do that to his brother? What in the hell is wrong with him? We raised him better than that. We’re not that type of family. We don’t do that to each other. No wonder, Aaron disowned him, we should too,” he yelled.
“We will not disown either one of our sons no matter what. We are their parents.”
“How could you be okay with this? Our baby son had an affair with our older son’s wife,” he bellowed, and I fought the urge to cover my ears. He had the right to his anger because what happened between Kari and Kam was the worse form of betrayal. But I wasn’t going to allow my husband to shun his son anymore.
“Calm down, you’ll give yourself a heart attack and I can’t lose you.” I touched his heart. “My love, I think Kari loves Kam like you love me.”
“He can’t. She’s married to Aaron and they love each other.” I could see the bluster lessen because he knew how deeply he loved me.
I continued to touch his rapidly beating heart. “We’ve always worried about how Aaron could be dismissive with Kam because we love her like our own. Remember how angry we were to know he had a child and we both could tell he still messed around with Vonnie after he was married. She was still too bitter about Aaron and Kam for him not to have led her on at some point. I’m not saying that Aaron and Kam don’t love each other because they do. I think that Kam believes that Kari loves her the way she should have been loved by her husband.”
He hit his hand with his fist. “So, Kari must have convinced her to cheat by telling her that since Aaron had a baby then she should get back at him, because she would never cheat on Aaron. He got her to sleep with him and now she’s probably afraid of losing her husband. Damn, Kari for doing this to the family. I owe Aaron an apology for how I treated him, he was only acting like any man would do to the man who slept with his wife. It didn’t matter that…it was…his…” His words faltered at the end as if what I said really hit him. He reached for my hand and asked softly, “What did I do so wrong that my sons hate each other?”
I kissed his cheek. “I ask myself that same question, except I’ve been doing that since they were young. Aaron never even cared that his brother was in the hospital and you and he always seemed embarrassed after he attempted. “
My Aaron frowned at me. “Don’t ever say that about me. I was never embarrassed. I blamed myself that I could be a heart specialist and not know my own son’s heart was broken. That he was broken. Do you know how helpless I felt seeing him tied to that gurney because he had to be on suicide watch? Do you? To know that I failed as a father and that everyone knew.”
“So, what if everyone knew?” I asked tired, that he often worried about appearances more than I ever did. “He was and still is your son.”
“I didn’t mean for it to sound like it did.” He sighed. “I meant that everyone knew what he did, and I didn’t want people to treat him different.”
“You mean as you did.” I tried to get up and he held my arm preventing me.
“No Connie, we don’t walk away from each other, ever.”
I folded my arms and tapped my foot, trying to control my growing ire. “If you don’t stop doing this to our son, I may have to walk away.”
He sat up with his arms now wrapped tight around me. “We also don’t talk or threaten divorce. I love you as much as I did when we first married. I may not have been the best father, but I’ve been a hell of a husband. I don’t know why it was easier to love you than my sons. I used to be jealous of the attention you gave them when they were babies, but I outgrew that when I would see how they were just as happy to see me when I came home from work. I never want you to ever think I was ever ashamed of Bakari. Ever. I was always proud of him. Always. I didn’t know how to love him like you did. I would try to talk to him, and he would rebuff me. I could tell he thought I was insincere and that I didn’t love him. I love him so much that I didn’t sleep that whole time he was in the hospital and I canceled all my surgeries because all that mattered was my son. I thank God that you found him. If he had…” He stopped himself, rare tears flowed. “I wanted to take away his pain and I begged God to let me switch places and feel whatever he felt as long as that meant he could be happy. I like Aaron more because we get each other but I love both of my sons. I need you to believe that. I was the one who wanted to try again after your miscarriage. I know I messed up with Kari, but I thought we were finally getting close…I can’t believe he slept with Kam.”
I nodded loving that he always had the ability to change my anger to softness and I touched my forehead to his. “I’m sorry I know you love them both. I’m just scared…”
“You don’t think he’ll hurt himself?” He inhaled deeply.
“Who knows? But Kam doesn’t seem to think so and I guess I’m inclined to believe as well. He’s much stronger than when he was a kid. He’s not coming back because he loves Kam and he thinks she’s going back to Aaron.”
“Well, they’re still married.”
“Yes…but she loves Kari right back. They remind me of us.”
He moved over so I could lay next to him and he propped himself up on his elbow to look down into my face. “She’s been with Aaron forever, and Kari for a moment. How can you say that they have the kind of love we have?”
“They’ve had feelings for each other for years but recently acted on it.”
“You knew and didn’t tell me?” He accused.
“Yeah, I’ve always known. It started the day we all met Kam.”
We were up washing dishes and cleaning the kitchen after everyone retired or left for home. This was our time when Kari was himself instead of the withdrawn, sullen young man who stayed in his room listening to music or playing video games.
“You’re excited about tomorrow?” I asked as he passed me another glass.
“Not really. You know we didn’t have to have a party. I’m just ready to move.”
I cringed internally at his desire to leave his family, to leave me. Although Aaron was far away in Florida, he liked coming home every chance he got. Even though Kari was going to be closer, in my heart I didn’t expect frequent visits. “Promise you’ll try to have fun tomorrow. Most of your friends will be there.” I looked at his side profile thinking how such a handsome and intelligent boy had so much turmoil within.
“Most of the class will be there so it’s cool.” He dried the glasses as I put them in the cabinet. “What you think about Kameron?”
“I like her.” And I did, she was a pretty girl, but she was more than looks and was genuinely a nice person. “She was nice and fit in with our loud family.”
“She seems too nice for him,” he said studying the glass in front of him. “What does she see in Aaron?”
“Well, your brother is handsome and charming.” Aaron could talk his way out of a spanking even when he was four years old.
“You think they’re serious?” He asked with a frown. “She doesn’t deserve to be cheated on.”
“Oh, says the boy that flirted with all the girls, even though his girlfriend was at the party.”
“Ma, it’s different and you know it. He’s older than me. I haven’t even started college yet.” He stopped drying the glass and looked out of the kitchen window in front of him. “You can tell she likes him, but we know how Aaron is and it’s not fair to her.”
“I hope he does mean it this time because she’s a nice girl. But that’s between them Kari. Why do you care?” I leaned against the counter waiting for his answer.
Kari’s face lit up and he smiled wide showing his dimples. “She’s different than any girl he ever brought home and she’s smart. She liked the family and we all liked her. She wants to do so many things once she finishes school, not like the girls I know.”
I watched him recognizing a crush and it made me smile. He was animated more than I had ever seen him, and it was good to see him for once act like a young man should when he likes someone. I didn’t think it was a big deal that he’d had a crush but I did want to see if he was obvious with his feelings, so I made sure to observe him and Kam at the party. Watching them dance and I knew that not only was Kari crushing on Kam, but she seemed to feel the same. She smiled more with him than she did with Aaron. At one point, they both disappeared and came back together, though he walked through the door first as if they weren’t. I also noticed how when Aaron proposed later – which I still think was in poor taste to do that at his brother’s party – she glanced at Kari before saying “yes”. I thought that after the wedding, that whatever crush they had on each other was gone. And I believed it was until he came to visit.
I noticed that whenever they were in the same room, they would sneak glances at each other and at the dinner we had for him and Leela, Kam closed her eyes when he touched her shoulders and kissed her cheek in greeting. I grew concerned then because there was something there. The night it was just the three of us in the kitchen when Kam came over to tell me that she and Aaron were no longer doing the ceremony, the energy between them was crazy. They were like an old couple comfortable in each other’s presence. And I could tell she was jealous when we discussed his plans with Leela and his reaction as if he liked that she was. I asked him to walk her out that night to see what he would do. If there was nothing, then he would have come right back in the house. But he didn’t. Kari was gone for a while and when he came back in, he had a smile on his face that he couldn’t hide if he tried.
I asked him to help me with the dishes and at first, we talked about his move, his upcoming marriage, and where he wanted to live. I didn’t know if I should say anything about how I suspected something between him and Kam until he started talking about how he was glad that Kam popped by the house. With his guard down, he’d been completely relaxed as he seemed to be around her more than anyone else.
“Kari, do you have feelings for Kam?”
He looked taken aback and stuttered, “I…I mean she is my sister-in-law. Of course, I do.”
“Why did you stay so long walking Kam to the car?”
“Ma, I think she’s mad cool and you know that. I just wanted to make sure she was safe in her car that’s all. I also asked her advice about where to live.” Kari looked down as he spoke and I knew he was lying.
I touched his arm. “Son, you have to leave her alone. She’s your brother’s wife and he loves her. You are about to move here, and you’ll see each other all the time. I can tell you like each other. The more time you spend with each other will only lead to disaster. You have to stay away from her.”
“You can tell?” He again tried to contain his joy which should have been fear.
“Yes. It’s obvious if anyone pays attention. So, stop it now. Whatever is going on, stop it now. You and Aaron are getting close for once and that’s all I’ve ever wanted. Can you let whatever crush you have on her go?”
“Ma, you worry too much. It’s fine. There’s nothing between us.” He kissed my cheek and then he reached for his cell in his pocket and whatever he saw concerned him. “I need to make a call. If you want me to finish the kitchen, I can before I go to sleep.”
I watched him leave out of the kitchen. The next morning, he left and didn’t return until Sunday night even though we had all made plans to go to church. I later found out that Kam left Aaron the same weekend Kari was here.
I looked up at my husband. “I couldn’t imagine my life without you, there has never been another man for me.”
“And there’s never been another woman for me.” He touched my lips with his finger.
“Tonight, Kari believed that Kam chose Aaron.” I sighed. “What if Kam and Kari are really like us like I think they are?”
He sighed and closed his eyes tight and when he opened them again, I could see his tears. “Kari isn’t coming back is he?”
I shook my head and we held each other knowing first-hand how a love so deep is damn near impossible to ignore…