Sagging into the first seat available, Arthur leaned against the frosty glass, hoping the chill would keep him awake. No coffee shops were open this late in his neighborhood and only God knew how late this night would go.

Really, there were a lot of things only God knew. Like how Arthur had ended up here. And if he was really going to pull this all off.

Sure, there had been failures before. More than he could possibly count. But not this time. This time had to work. He couldn’t handle another regret on the list.

The first big one was his father. Some people have a dad, but Arthur had a father. Those few short months that Joseph was out of jail during his son’e life, he was still barely at home. He always had “important business” to deal with that Arthur and his mom would just be in the way of. Business that seemed to always include another tattoo tear being added to his face, and then another few years back in prison. Arthur’s father died right around the time he understood what those tears meant. So when a police offer came to the door and offered condolences for their loss, he went into his room to watch television.

Arthur’s second regret was Owen. Owen and Arthur had been brothers by everything but blood. They lived in the same complex, went to the same school, spent most nights at the same dinner table (somewhere in the neighborhood), and kept each other’s back no matter what. Until the one night Arthur didn’t show up. They were both in high school by then, and both living without a father, dad, or really any other men to look up to. They had a group of friends and also a group of people to avoid. And Owen was fed up with having to give up the nearby park to that other group. So on a Friday night, one that should have been like any other, he texted all the guys to meet up and reclaim their space. Arthur had planned to go, and even was walking toward the front door to meet them all. Then his mother called out from the kitchen, reminding him that they were supposed to visit his father’s grave that weekend. For Joseph’s birthday. Taking his hand off the doorknob, Arthur went into the kitchen instead to help with the dishes and then watch television with his mother. Owen didn’t call again that night. He didn’t call again ever.

Arthur’s first and second regrets had his head spinning; so much that he almost missed the stop at 114th street and Brene Avenue. After Joseph and Owen, Christopher was the final regret that Arthur carried with him. Another man that he had promised to back up, no matter what. Another member of his family that should have meant more than anyone else in the city. And at just six-months old, the entire reason that Arthur was putting up with that horrible bus commute into downtown to scrub floors eight hours a day. Turning the key in the front lock, a happy squeal came from Christopher’s mouth and a sigh came from the tired Grandma who held him.

The regret that his son would never know his father or his brother weighed heavy on Arthur. But taking Christopher into his arms, he promised with his embrace that this child would know his father. He would not be his son’s regret.

This story is a response to a prompt from Writers Write.

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