Michael came from parents who harbored a deep secret. The man who he thought was his father turned out not to be his father. This man, Jarren Johanssen, raised him as his own, but it had been tough not only for Jarren but for Karena, Michael’s mom.
When her husband would go away on a business trip and would often be away from his family, Karena had soon become lonely. She would go to work to take care of their three children at that time which would leave her feeling weary. She had few friends she would hang out with, and a mother who occasionally would help out with the children. But, Karena needed a different kind of attention and love. While at work, she was being seduced by her boss on several occasions and had finally given in to him that night of the day her husband left for a business trip to California.
A few weeks later, she found out she was pregnant. Being hit with the conception date had hit her hard because she knew who fathered her child. And she was hoping it would have been her husband since they had an intimate moment before he left to go on his business trip.
It was the summer of 1978 in Houston, Texas when Michael found out about this at a barbeque after he graduated from high school. He had never felt so devastated since receiving this information. So, he had a sit-down with his parents and demanded answers.
“I can’t believe what I’ve heard. Is it true? I need to know!” Michael questioned as they sat away from everyone at a picnic table. He somberly sat down, shaking his head in bewilderment. He used his thumb and middle finger to massage the throb that threatened to come.
Karena had downcast eyes as she knew this day would become exposed someday. She also hated the fact that her son-in-law had blurted this secretive and personal information out to everyone. She would have to have a talk with her daughter about airing the family’s dirty laundry even to people like her son-of-law. The thing with that is, her daughter must have overheard it at some point because Karena had never told any of them.
Jarren gave his wife a sidelong glance and set his eyes back on Michael. He leaned forward and clasped his hands together on the table, trying to figure out how to say to a child the hate he has for his biological father. Or, how he truly feels about all of this. Nevertheless, it wasn’t Michael’s fault he was born. Jarren felt a rush of emotions hitting him all at once.
“Michael, I want you to know that I love you very much. I know this comes as a shock to you about me not being your biological dad, but we have gotten through the worst before. And, I’m not going to lie. It was hard raising another man’s son who, um, slept with my wife. And, er- in the beginning, I didn’t want anything to do with you. But when you were thirteen months old, and I was going through depression, you walked up and comforted me. It was the way you did it that helped-” Jarren paused because he was starting to get choked up.
Karena didn’t know whether to console her husband since she’s to blame for him to feel this way. It still hurts like hell to see her husband like this. Over the years, and after they had one more child when Michael was turning two years old, they had worked through it. Or so she thought. It had been hard, she won’t front, but what made it worse was Michael’s birth father kept popping up demanding to be in his son’s life.
Michael turned to his mom and saw sadness swimming in her eyes. Her long jet-black flowing hair was waving in the wind like a flag. He wanted to hear what she had to say because he needed to know not only why he was conceived the way he was, but why she never mentioned anything to him. Or at least try to. His stomach started to knot up as he expelled a long sigh.
Jarren took a quick glance at his wife with hurt and anger etched on his face. He then stood up and walked away. He has always been a proud man and not one to show his emotions much- at least not pain and sadness.
“Michael, I promise to talk about this to you. Right now, I want to wait until most of the people are gone so I can have that talk with you. Okay?” Karena reached out to caress the side of her son’s face. She is a private person and doesn’t like talking about herself or her family’s business around people who she feels are not family in that sense.
“Okay, mom,” Michael said quietly, closing his eyes when his mom planted a kiss on the top of his head. He didn’t know how to process it, and since his mom wanted to wait to talk about it, that time may not come anytime soon. He patted the head of his Saarloos Wolfdog, Rocko while he stayed at the picnic table deep in his thoughts about his life taken a drastic turn.
The next morning after breakfast as Karena and one of her daughters was cleaning the kitchen, there were a loud knock at the front door. She yells out to Michael to answer it.
She wasn’t quite in the mood for company and was hoping it would be a friend of one of her children coming to see them. But as she moves out of the kitchen and was heading toward the front door, she overheard a familiar voice.
“Hey, Michael! How’ve you been, son?” Standing at the door was a handsome dark-haired man with olive skin, gazing at her son with fatherly love in his eyes.
“I’ve been good, sir,” Michael responded. He glanced at his mom and saw she had reached his side with confusion and terror on her face.
“That’s good! Hi, Karena. Good seeing you again,” the guy said, staring into her dark brown eyes in a way that always made her feel uncomfortable.
“Michael, will you give me a moment with Mr. Xander, please?”
When Michael was out of earshot, Karena looked at the guy she fought so hard to rid herself of. The guy who, no matter where she goes, would always seem to find her, and she that she exorcised out of her system.
“You have some nerve being here. What if my husband comes home and sees you darkening our doorstep?” She hissed at him.
“I’ve been to Michael’s graduation away from your family. Now, I’m here to see him in person. I want to spend time with our son… today.”
TO BE CONTINUED.
©2020 Pamela E. Hester