Matthew Ware is a stoic man. If something goes terribly wrong you won’t see the faintest hint of emotion on his face. Some think he’s just trying to act intimidating others think his attitude towards… Well, everything is possibly caused by depression or some other mental illness. Even though Mr. Ware seems like he would be he isn’t actually a moody or grumpy person as you might be thinking. He is actually one of the most cordial people you will ever meet.
As he enters the dreary auditorium with his briefcase in hand and navy lunch box slung over his right shoulder he seems troubled. It’s not obvious why he seems this way. He’s wearing the appropriate and normal clothing, a suit, and tie. It’s not wrinkled. His hair is neatly groomed. Nothing seems to be the matter until you look at his face. His eyes gleam with worry and he seems much older and tired, or possibly exasperated, then normal.
“What do you mean she just showed up with a baby!? Kathryn that can’t be.” He pauses as his wife speaks. “Well, I know. I just meant how could she have disappeared for so long and not told us?”
As he drove to work that morning Matthew had received terrible news. His 32-year-old daughter who had dropped off the face of the Earth about a year and a half ago had just shown up at his home with a newborn infant. This is, unfortunately, the third time this has happened. His daughter, Emmeline, had shown up twice before pregnant but, this is the first time that neither he nor his wife had not known that she was pregnant at all before the child was born.
The first time this happened she was 20 and still living under his roof. She gave birth to a baby girl who he was now the legal guardian of. Her name was Naomi Ware. The second time she was living with a man named Adam Erickson. She tried to give that child to Matthew and his wife as well but failed when the father got parental rights after she had gotten arrested for selling and doing illegal drugs. The child’s name is Maxwell Erickson. His father only lets him visit at Christmas…
Mr. Ware is on his way to a conference committee for a bill to legalize cannabis. What a coincidence that his only drug addicted family member showed up on the hopefully second to last day of the meetings before the bill finally got shot down.
“Kathryn? Can you put her on the phone please?” Kathryn replies with a yes and then there is a delay before finally another voice speaks. Ware almost didn’t recognize his own daughter’s voice. It’s only been a year but in his mind, she’s been gone for a very long time.
“Dad?” The voice sounded frightened.
“Where have you been?”’ As Ware spoke there was not a sign that he actually cared. Sure he wanted his daughter to be and stay alive but, he’d honest to God never let her come and live in his house again, even if she had nowhere to go. He would never admit it but as soon as she left Naomi with him and Kathryn Naomi took her place. He raised her as he wished he could’ve raise Emmeline.
“I-I’ve been at a friends. Up in…” She paused a second too long, “the downtown area…Yeah, they’re really nice people.”
“So nice that you replaced your real family with them?” Emmeline doesn’t respond. “Get the baby situated, leave your phone number, and then get out of my house. Will call you when we need to get all the legal stuff sorted out.”
“Um… I actually need to stay here at your house for a little while. Mom said it was fine. I’d be able to get to know Naomi more and help with the baby and stuff you know…?”
“You’re not staying at the house and you’re definitely not talking to Naomi. Your mother wouldn’t agree with that either and you know it.”
“So what am I supposed to do? Just go live in my car!?”
“Yes, or go live with those nice people you were talking about earlier.”
“You know dad you’re…” Emmeline said quite a few hateful things after that and you could still hear her shouting after Kathryn presumably wrestled the phone out of her hand. Kathryn said sorry and a quick goodbye before hanging up. Matthew was left in silence to ponder what the new baby’s name was and how on Earth he, a 62-year-old man, would be able to take care of a 12-year-old and a baby, for the rest of the car ride to work.
He didn’t know exactly why but just the thought of taking care of the new baby exhausted him. He hoped he didn’t look tired or worn out. He sat down in the dingy auditorium chairs. He didn’t like this auditorium as much. They had a room in the actual capital building that they were allowed to use sometimes but it was under construction so they had to use high school auditoriums. Ware thought it was ridiculous that they had to take out all of the chairs and replace them with new chairs. He preferred the old chairs.
Ware didn’t listen very much during the whole entire speech that was given at the beginning. He knew he wouldn’t ever vote to make the bill a law. He couldn’t imagine letting a gateway drug be legalized. There was no way people wouldn’t abuse it and then start to abuse other more harmful drugs. Families just like his would be torn apart because of it.
No one talked to him that day. He could feel the unease of his colleagues because usually when he would walk up to them to partake in their conversation they would welcome him but today they dispersed quickly as soon as they saw him walking towards them during the breaks. He didn’t think much of it at the moment but he did on the way home.
He sat in his car for 5 minutes and 46 seconds, just staring at his watch and listening to the radio when he reached home. Finally, he sighed and took the keys out of his Grand Marquis’s ignition, pushed the car door open and pulled himself up using the door for support. Here we go he thought. Sighing as he walked up the cracked cement stairs, sliding his free hand up the rusty metal rail he couldn’t help cussing under his breath about the day he had had. As he fished the keys out of his pocket the door opened and Naomi appeared. She didn’t smile and barely mumbled a greeting but, she did look him straight in the eyes.
He straightened his posture in an attempt to look intimidating as he walked up the stairs and into the kitchen. Emmeline was nowhere to be seen. Kathryn was standing by the counter the new baby in one arm a bottle in the other. “Is Emmeline still here? Did she leave?”
“She stormed out right after I hung up the phone. She also didn’t leave me anyway to contact her so I don’t know where she went or if she’s coming back…” He tossed down his bag and lunch box on the counter, loosened his tie, felt the need to explode and yell and everyone in the house, and then cooled down, ran his finger through his hair, and asked.
“So… What’s his name? You never said.”
“And the father. Who is he?”
“I have no idea… I wasn’t thinking about anything besides her and Gabriel at the moment.” Frustrated Ware left Kathryn’s side and went to his office, took the Captain Morgan Rum from the plastic bag on his cabinet, filled one of the old cups on his desk halfway up and then went back to the kitchen for a diet coke to fill the other half of the cup. He stayed up late that night partly because of stress the other part because of the newborn infant who slept peacefully for four hours and then woke up every other hour for the rest of the night.
Matthew Ware had already made up his mind about how he would vote the next day so when the time came he voted against making marijuana legal but, in the end, the report was written and sent on its way. Emmeline showed up a week after her disappearance and helped make Matthew and Kathryn Ware the legal guardians of Gabriel. They couldn’t become the parents because if they did that they’d have to get the father’s signature and they did not want to bring him out of whatever dark alleyway he was probably hiding in. After a while, things finally started to feel normal again.