punch line

“That’s not how the joke goes, Quentin. You missed out on the punch line completely again.” He rolled his eyes at me and shrugged, as if it didn’t much matter to him whether or not he could tell a joke properly. I guess it made sense, he wasn’t much in touch with humour though he liked a good comedy now and again when we watched one on our meal-and-movie nights.

No one around the table was laughing and I supposed it wasn’t just about the lack of a good punch-lined joke. The twins turned us down for the meal invitation. They had never done that before. I asked Armin if he knew anything about the situation and he just shrugged, a helpless sort of motion.

“When they came in Thursday morning, they looked like they’d barely slept and they placed several books on the wrong shelves, they were very distracted.” His words were quiet, thoughtful. “I admit though I haven’t seen Cyrille since then and I guess they might have had a disagreement. You know how it goes between friends. You fight, you don’t talk for a few days and you make up after that.”

I did know what he was talking about though I also knew he wasn’t really talking from experience. Armin has never really had friends he could lean on and I could only imagine that he might never really have had the kind of fight he was thinking about. Still I knew where he was going with his idea.

“I’ll talk to them over the weekend, see if there isn’t something they’d like to discuss about. I wish they wouldn’t clam up this way though, it’s not good for them.”

With that said, we tried to leave that worry behind and instead we focused on the rest of the meal where Quentin failed to deliver his jokes properly and eventually he gave up altogether. No one was really feeling the meal and movie vibe so once we were done eating, we all decided that we were calling it a night and we each went on our way.

It wasn’t much of a loss, it had been my turn to find a movie for us to watch and I hadn’t even made my mind yet, I haven’t even honestly given it much of a thought. I worry often and I guess that’s just the way I am, it can’t be helped.

After a long discussion with Lex, I decided against checking in on the twins. Momma bear I might be, I try hard not to be in the way or to prod too much at things that might be best left alone. If the twins did want to talk about whatever was bothering them I would let them come to me. They usually did so, in time. I suppose they were growing up and some things just weren’t as easily discussed as the rest but I still held some hope.

“You think they’ll be okay?” I was sitting with my back against the window, at times looking over my shoulder at the unused trampoline. They’d made good use of it so far and I knew they liked to bounce around on it at least a little every day but it had been deserted and unused since Tuesday morning.

“Stop worrying about them, Eoghan. There’s not a whole lot you can do, you just need to let them come to their own decision. They’re growing up, they need to be able to make their minds up about everything and you can’t mother them constantly though you might want to.” I rolled my eyes at him, tempted to fling something at him but all the decorative pillows were where he was settled at and I had nothing within arm’s reach to grab onto. Not that it would have gotten me much of anywhere, I knew.

“I just can’t help and you know that. They’re just kids. Not even a year ago we found them and gave them a roof and then we moved here. Things are just moving all so fast.” I whined softly, feeling genuinely worried about them, I really couldn’t help myself. I felt like I was a parent even though I hadn’t even seen them really grow up. I hadn’t even known these kids for a year and I felt as if I was completely responsible for them, as if anything that might have been wrong with them was my fault.

Sighing, Lex did what I had thought of doing moments ago, he took one of the decorative pillows and threw it at my head. I must have been distracted because I didn’t see it coming and it bounced right and proper in my face. I hit my head just barely against the window behind me and all I could do was blink dumbly as if I didn’t know what had just happened.

“And that’s a good punch line.”

I blinked at him again, looking down at the pillow and then back up to him. I really was trying to understand what had just happened. He rolled his eyes though not without a laugh and he picked up another pillow, preparing to throw it at me. I held up both arms to mock-protect myself and he nodded, putting the pillow back down.

“Good, now you’re not just staring off and whining about your lack of control about things. How about we focus on the now? You can’t fix everything for them, Eoghan, though you might want to and I hear you. I feel for these kids too but I know that they need to learn to do things on their own. It’s what birds do, it’s what bears do, it’s what a lot of kids out there these days do. They learn, they adapt and they move on.”

“But-“

“No, no buts though I do adore yours.” I blushed lightly and I shook my head, shooting him a look. “Whatever is troubling them, they’ll figure it out. It’ll take whatever time it needs to take and that’s all there is to that situation. You can’t mother them this way. They’ll never mature if you do that. Let them figure everything out on their own. If they’re heading down a slippery slope, then we’ll throw ropes, okay?”

I nodded, breathing a sigh as I took the pillow in one hand and moved back up to my feet. I moved to stand next to him, taking a moment to swat at him with the pillow before I was putting it back on the couch, settling on said couch and just resting my head against his lap. It was all I could do. I wanted to worry and fret about the kids but there was nothing I could do about it. I knew Lex was right, though it pained me to admit it.

I wanted to mother the kids in a bad way, I wanted to hold their hands and tell them that everything was going to be okay but I knew I couldn’t do that, it would almost amount to holding their hands until the end of time and letting them know that I’d always and forever be there and that they’d never have to make a single decision in their lives. That wasn’t how it should have been.

His fingers in my hair helped me forget about everything for a little while. It usually was how it worked and it tended to be one of the main reasons I settled my head to his lap. We’d found out about that sort of weakness of mine by accident and he never exploited it. “I’ll do my best to not worry myself sick about them but you know it’ll still be on my mind.”

“I know.” His voice was low and smooth, the sound soothing and I closed my eyes, trying not to think too much about it though I knew I would anyway.

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