Saturday morning, while Brook prattled to herself in her bedroom, the rest of the family enjoyed pancakes. Heath got his father to promise that later on they could play a game together. Right afterward, Meadow went shopping so it was Brian who bathed, dressed and fed Brook.
Once she was napping, he got in some practice on the drums for a short while. He tried to give both his children attention this afternoon, tossing Brook in the air to her great delight and playing the promised game with Heath.
Meadow got home where he was reading the paper, her voice was a little breathless.
“You’ll never guess who I met today at Goth’s—Margo Ferguson, er, Margo Candeloro, introduced me to Lori Lassiter’s mother, Melora.”
“Yep. I didn’t recognize the name at first, but it made sense after a minute; her mother’s first name is Melora, I wonder if that is the daughter’s real name and she just goes by Lori. Anyway I guess she is Lori Ferguson now; not Lori Lassiter.”
“Actually, if memory serves, you’ve got it right,” Brian mused, “She said she was named after her mother and her twin brother was named after her father.”
Upstairs next to Heath’s bedroom and across from the music room was the children’s play area. One evening Brian was up there reading a book so he could watch Heath make things with his blocks. The boy liked to call his father’s attention to whatever he made once it was done. Meadow came in with Brook and set her down near the play station so she could also play with blocks,
“Brian will you keep an eye on her while I take a long bubble bath? I need it.”
Once Brook had her blocks, Heath thought it prudent to color instead of trying to build elaborate structures she could easily knock down.
Eventually Brook began yawning and then tossing blocks about so Brian picked her up, telling Heath,
“15 more minutes, buddy, and then lights out.”
Once he put Brook in her crib for the night, he got into bed—Meadow was just finishing up her long bath.
When she came out she put on her warm pajamas instead of her usual bed wear; a short satiny slip of a nightgown. That was odd, thought Brian; she never wore pajamas except on a cold winter night or when she was….he stopped. He suddenly had a sick feeling, like he'd fallen out of a high rise; like his life was passing before him. Meadow crawled into bed,
“That was so relaxing, thanks for giving me that time, babe. Did Brook go to sleep okay?”
He was watching her closely like she was a bomb about to explode. She was serene and happy as she asked him,
“What about Heath?”
“He’s got about 5 minutes left—I’ll check on him to make sure in ten.”
There was silence for a moment.
She gave him a Mona Lisa smile.
Brian was incredulous,
“How can this be?”
“Well, the usual way is that the man—“
“Don’t try to be funny. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I’m telling you now.”
“Only because I asked and I only asked because I saw you were wearing your "Flannel Annies". I mean, was this accidental? Because, correct me if I'm wrong; I thought you said if you could have a second baby you’d be content.”
She looked a little anxious,
“I know, but I can’t help it if I love you so much I want to have a ton of your children,” she tried to joke, but it was quite obvious that Brian was not amused.
“How could you make this big decision without me?” he asked.
As she tried to explain, the truth became clear; she wanted another child and she didn’t think he would agree so she went off her pills without telling him.
“So you didn’t think it was important what I thought or wanted, and decided to changed both our lives—all our lives--without consulting me. Meadow, I've been thinking it wouldn’t be too many more years before we could take the kids and go on a real vacation. This puts anything like that off by a few more years at least. And I had no say in your decision, it’s like you tricked me,” he put in a crusher, “I’m not Lonnie Hammond; you know. I’m your husband. We’ve always talk over big decisions like this first. Or at least we did.”
“Brian, I’m sorry you’re so mad at me and now that I hear you say this I realize you’ve every reason to be angry,” tears began to gush from her eyes, “But I want this baby so much. Will you forgive me?”
He thought in frustration, why is it that women always win an argument by crying?
“I’m not angry really; but I am upset and very disappointed in you. I thought we had a real understanding between us; real honesty.”
She was sobbing now as she said,
“I know I was wrong, but the baby is on the way, and I want it.”
She got up out of bed and stood by the dresser, still crying, and obviously wanting him to come to her. He sighed and then did exactly that.
Taking her face in his hands gently he smiled,
“Okay, Sunshine, I give. As usual. So when does this bambino arrive?”
She threw her arms around him and they kissed. He never really had a prayer.
The next morning over cereal Heath told his parents how his first week of school had gone. He was doing very well with his studies. After he left on the bus, Meadow fed Brook her oatmeal and mused about the baby on its way. Would this one look like Brian? She hoped so. Heath frankly looked like Lonnie Hammond, of course, and so far Brook looked like Meadow, who could also see a few traits of Brian's mother, Samantha.
She later took Brook up to the playroom. When Heath got off the bus that afternoon He came dashing in waving his report card—A+! Meadow praised him extravagantly; all that help with his homework had won the day. She was very proud of her son and she knew Brian would be, too.
Over the next few days she worried about Brian and their relationship. Had she permanently weakened it? Or even truly damaged it? He was such a good husband and father—and she did adore him--she knew he would never shortchange this child in anyway, even though he had not wanted more children.
When she finally asked him if he had forgiven her for getting pregnant, he answered,
“I already have forgiven you, Sweetheart, but you still don’t get it. I wasn’t angry because you’re pregnant (although it gave me quite a jolt)—I was upset because you did not discuss it with me beforehand. Had you done that I might have given in right then. I love our children; you know that. But you lied to me, in essence; lied by omission. I wish you could understand what I mean. Anyway, the baby is coming; I’m fine with that now, even looking forward to it. But please don’t make a decision like that ever again without us talking it over first.”
Meadow realized sadly that he had forgiven her, but he was still bothered and…would he ever trust her again? She wasn’t sure that she could ever forgive herself for this total lapse in judgment
Heath was more interested in music every day; especially the music his father played. Meadow had told him he could go in to watch Brian practice, but he should sit quietly on the couch and not be a distraction. He did that for a while, just a silent observer, but when Brian looked over once and winked at him, Heath couldn’t contain himself, he had to go over and cheer. He determined that when he was old enough he was going to play guitar too—or maybe drums—and have long hair and a beard just like his father.
It had been a busy day and this late in her pregnancy Meadow needed frequent naps. She curled up on the couch while Brook played with her xylophone. Even the music upstairs didn’t keep her awake. Over supper that evening Heath told them that he was going to play in a band when he grew up and when could he have a leather vest? Brian looked somewhat troubled.
After Heath and Brook were in bed, he told Meadow he was thinking of cutting his hair.
She loved his hair, it was just a part of him—when it was loose at night it flowed over his shoulders like black satin and she often mused that he looked like a more handsome version of Daniel Day Lewis in Last of the Mohicans come to rescue her. She loved that movie and this was a heady image. Brian would have laughed out loud if she’d told him.
“I think it’s time. Besides it’s a hassle sometimes.”
“Why are you doing this, Brian, is it because of what Heath said tonight?”
“Well, partly,” he admitted, “I don’t want him to aspire to be a lousy musician in a cut-rate rock band. Now a concert pianist; that would be fine. It’s a little bit of over-aggrandizement, I suppose, maybe a lot of kids do it with their parents, I don’t know. But he has me on a pedestal and I’m afraid it is skewing his outlook. I guess I admired my Dad too, but there were special reasons. And Pete was a very good role-model, anyway.”
“I think you’re a wonderful role-model, babe,” Meadow said softly, “Compassionate and kind, honest and loyal, calm and nurturing.”
Brian smiled ruefully,
“Thanks, sweetheart. Well, it’s just I don’t want to embarrass him either.”
“That’s crazy you couldn’t embarrass him; he adores you!”
“If his friends point out that I don’t look the way most fathers do and ask ‘hey, what’s the deal with your dad, man?', it will embarrass him. Kids don’t want their parents to attract the attention of their friends unless it's their idea. We’ve got that Open House at his school coming up in a month. I think it would be good if I looked like an average guy when I went there.”
“You’re not an average guy, that’s why I married you; because you’re so special,” Meadow told him, “You should wear your hair however you want to, though. Remember? That’s what you told me.”
“Ahh, trapped by my own words,” he laughed, “Well, don’t worry, I’ve been thinking about it for months--haven’t yet decided. Heath’s announcement tonight, though, brought it to the forefront of my mind again.”
“Well, I wish you wouldn’t do it if those are your reasons, but I do understand. Now if you were doing it just because you’re bored or unhappy with it; that would be another thing. I’ll love you whatever you decide and I’m sure you’ll look handsome either way.”
“Thanks for being so supportive, kiddo,” he said and kissed her, “You’re very good for my ego.”
That night the baby was born. She was a lovely girl they named Willow Annette. They placed her gently in the crib in their room and thanked God that she was healthy and safe. Now that she was here they couldn’t imagine a life without her. Brian looked at her silky pale eyebrows and grinned at Meadow,
More and more Heath was proving to be a responsible and considerate child. He would come over on his own initiative to amuse Brook, who adored her big brother, calling him “Heat”.
“’Heat’ might be a good professional name for me when I start a band, you know,” he told Meadow importantly, “And I could call the band ‘Spontaneous Combustion’—we learned about that in school--or maybe ‘Heat Wave’.”
His class was currently concentrating on geography and science. Meadow hid a smile,
“Well, I must admit I prefer Heath, with an ‘h’. That’s why I gave you that name. But, once you’re grown up I guess it will be your decision."
He was also quite self-sufficient in many ways by this time, but Brook and Willow required quite a bit of attention and time from Meadow and Brian. They thought about converting the playroom into a bedroom for the girls when they were old enough, it was fairly large. Then Brian said,
“I think what we really should do is convert the music room into a bedroom and keep the playroom as it is for all the kids. After all, Heath’s bedroom is smaller and this gives him an opportunity to have more space to play in—what do you think?”
“Oh, no, Brian, not your music room; that’s what happened at the old house. We can convert my studio into a bedroom, it’s quite large.”
“Well if we don’t use it, you will lose your room for painting, it’s the same thing.”
“No, it’s not. Painting is just a sometime hobby of mine and I haven’t done much of it since I had Brook anyway. But music is your life!”
He leaned over and took her hand with both of his,
“You and the kids are my life.”
“I know," she smiled, "But please, let’s use the studio. I can go outside to paint in warm weather, but really, I don’t feel the same need to paint. I guess you and the kids and our home are enough for me right now. And there are other hobbies I’ve thought about that don’t use up a whole room if I need an outlet.”
So they held on to his music room and made plans to convert the studio later.
Heath was starting to bring friends over to the house and Angelo Severino was one of the first ones.His family had just moved to Pleasantview from California. Angelo was a nice little boy, by all accounts, but from the little bit Meadow had gleaned from the town pipeline, his family was used to a more upscale town. She hoped they would find happiness here, in spite of how provincial Pleasantview could be. He didn't seem to mind playing with little Brook in the room, so he was all right in Meadow's book.