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Only Men

“Danny, I’m pregnant.” Samantha whispered; her eyes were pointing toward the ground.

A frosty and shocked silence overwhelmed the room. You could hear the drop of a pin, or the squeak of a mouse without difficulty. Like the world faded away for just a moment. I looked over at my brother Danny; a glazed thousand-yard stare in his eyes. I looked not into his eyes, but into his soul; into his manhood.

He got up from the couch, stared at Samantha for a moment, slowly turned around, and sludged out the front door of the house. Samantha and I sat in the living room, neither of us saying a word.

“He’ll be back. Give him some time.” I declared to her.

She didn’t reply. I looked at her, a disturbed look was upon her face. I saw a hint of shame and regret in her eyes, but I saw more of an emotion that took me aback: courage.

“Will you keep the baby?” I inquired.

She spoke in a whisper, “My mom always told me that a girl believes it takes courage to give up a baby’s life; she also told me that only the strong woman believes it takes courage to keep it, love it, raise it, cherish it.”

I didn’t know what to say; such words struck me to the core of my soul. My younger brother Danny has just walked out of our house at the news that he is to be a father. What words would I give him to make him realize that he would need to be responsible for his actions? I precipitated the notion that I may not need say anything at all: Samantha’s courage would be more than enough to inspire him.

Samantha stood up from the couch, sighed a heavy sigh, and stated she would return tomorrow to hear from Danny. I place my hand upon her face and wiped a lonely tear from her cheek. I hugged her reassuringly, and said that Everything is going to be alright. For once in my life, I think she believed me.

I sat in the living room until after dusk. Then it came around to be midnight. The darkness blanketed the world, and I was accompanied only by the lonely glow of the sapphire-colored nightlight in the bathroom hallway. I pondered and fixated preparations for how I would help Samantha and Danny deal with a child; the situation in my mind was, at most, tenuous. To the best of my ability as a man and older brother, I could not conquer the situation that, in nine months, would become a reality. I needed to talk to Danny.

He came through the front door to find me sitting in the shrouded darkness. Seemed as though he was expecting me.

“Hey, Alex.” He muttered to me. He came in, took off his shoes, and sat down opposite of me. He stared at the ground, and I stared at him; I examined the 16 year-old boy that was my younger sibling; the boy that I had raised alone since our parents died four years ago; the boy that somehow I had to teach to be a man and step up to the plate of fatherhood.

“Danny. We need to talk about this.” I said to him.

“I know. Alex: what do I do?”

“I thought father and I raised you never to ask that question.”

“Father isn’t here anymore, Alex. I’m asking you: what do I do?”

“Do you see the plaque that’s above our front door, Danny? You and I read that plaque every day of our lives before we leave the sanctity of our home. Every morning. What does that plaque say, Danny?”

“Alex, don’t give me this philosophical bul….”

“What does it say?” I screamed at him. His eyes shot up to look at my face; he possessed a look of terror. I tempered myself, and his eyes drifted back to the floor.

“It says: No Gods or Kings, only Men.

“Are you a man, Danny?” I interrogated.

“No.” He confessed.

“Then why is it you perform adult activities? Sex is not for the weak, Danny. Or for the young and innocent and foolish. Sex is for men. Are you a man, Danny?”

He didn’t reply; a look of shame overwhelmed his eyes.

“You are now, Danny. You are a man. You are going to stop looking so goddamn sorry for yourself, grow the fuck up, and take care of that woman and that baby. That is what father and mother would have you do, and that is what I would have you do. This isn’t some game or joke anymore. Samantha is going to keep the baby, and she is going to have the courage to raise it and love it as best as she can. That’s sacrifice. That is a woman. She is going to accept her mistake, forgive herself, and deal with it. I can’t tell if she’ll forgive you, but that’s out of the question. And you need to do the same, Danny. You need to get a job, be disciplined and temperate, and be prepared to become the father of a child; a child who’s life, hands, feet, and heart are your responsibility. That child will grow up, and make something of itself in this world; that child will look back upon its life and say, ‘My mom and dad did so much for me to give me the best that they could’. You know why, Danny? Because you are going to do your best. Its not going to be easy. But I’m here to help you; your 24-year old brother is here to help you. So is Samantha. But most of all: your going to need to help yourself. Can you do that?”

Danny looked me dead in the eye with a fiery passion of tears and emotion. He stood up, looked up at the plaque above our flower-covered front door, and said, “Alright.”

By Adrian Lopez

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