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4:01 PM

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It is 3:25 pm and you are on the train home.

You and your mother had waited hours for the doctors to come and say that your father is going to be okay, that he just needs a rest and he’ll back to normal soon. You wish you’d remembered to grab the new photo album before you left the apartment this morning - your parents would love to see that photo of Kosuke and his father staring off into space together. You're so busy these days, visits are hard to manage, and they haven't seen the new album yet. But your mother’s call had come so suddenly, there was only enough time to grab your bag and hurry out the door.

It is 3:25 pm and you have a husband. He is tall with long hair that hides his eyes because he likes it best that way. He has a weird health condition that he can’t explain, but he says he’s been feeling much better since he met you. He has a name that you’ve written a hundred times, tracing each character with love. He’s quiet and loves books and told you once that the air around you is beautiful. Together you have a son who is quiet and loves books and cries at everything. He is the light of your world.

**

It is 4:01 pm and you are putting your bags down.

The whole way home, you’ve been ready to complain about the doctors and the hospital and the wait, but soft sobs breaking dead silence catch your ear before you can do more than call out your usual greeting. Kosuke always cries, your sensitive little boy, but you’ve never heard him cry like this before. You wonder why his father isn’t comforting him like usual and why it’s so oddly quiet in the house.

It is 4:01 pm and you have a husband. He has a familiar face and a familiar name and right now he’s making you angry because you shouldn’t have to ask him to take care of his own son while you go meet your sick father at the hospital and you shouldn’t have to tell him what to do as if he wasn’t around every single day taking part in your routine. Together you have a son who is crying into the floor and who is too young to be left alone like this.

 **

 It is 4:03 pm and you are staring at an open closet door.

Your wailing son’s face is pressed to you and you don’t understand why the hangers are empty. For a brief moment you think maybe we’ve been robbed until you notice your own clothes hanging neatly where they always do. Then you think maybe this is some kind of joke, but as your eyes light upon the missing row of photo albums, you know it’s gone on too long for it to be anything but real. You’re the one with the sense of humor, not him, and he would never do anything like this if he didn’t mean it.

It is 4:03 pm and you have a husband, or at least you had one right up until he decided to walk out in the middle of the afternoon while you were gone. Together you have a son who looks just like his father... you think.

 **

 It is 4:05 pm and you are hugging your weeping son tightly.

Pregnancy had tied you and your husband together as quickly as you’d flipped through the pages of the calendar the day you’d realized how late your period was, and part of you always understood that this unplanned thing you’d undertaken together wasn’t something he’d ever expected to come from your teasing in the park. You always knew he could walk out one day, slipping out of your life as easily as he’d slipped into it. But why can’t you remember his name? Why can’t you remember his face? You search your mind frantically for answers, but all you can do is let your own tears fall and cry together with Kosuke.

It is 4:05 pm and you had a husband once, but all you can remember now is telling other people about him. But he’s real, he has to be real, because together you have a son who is the proof of his existence. Right?

**

It is 7:38 pm and you are digging through your jewelry box.

Kosuke is asleep, the exhausted sleep of a four year old who doesn't understand why his world is suddenly so wrong. You wish you could sleep too, curling up under the blankets and hoping to wake up to a world that’s righted itself again. Instead you’ve looked everywhere in the apartment for clues, for hints, for some sign that you should have known what was coming. But the only thing you have left is a pendant he just gave you, slipped on as you hurried out the door earlier. You want to call your mother and beg her to tell you your husband’s name, but you're terrified that she won't remember him either, that all she'll think is that Kosuke has never had a father to begin with. The thought of being left is shameful enough, but the thought that everyone might believe you were never married in the first place is too overwhelming to consider.

It is 7:38 pm and you have a son. Kosuke has a father because all children have fathers, but you can't even be sure that he was ever actually around. That son of a bitch.

**

 It is 6:22 am and you are fixing breakfast.

You’ve been awake all night making lists of everything you need to do in this new reality you’ve found yourself in, you and your son suddenly alone in this shabby apartment. Your eyes are sore and part of you still wants to sleep until everything makes sense again, but Kosuke is awake and you’re the only one who can take care of him now. Your quiet little boy is even quieter than usual as he watches you bustle around the kitchen, pretending everything is normal, but he seems calmer than he did yesterday. There’s no pointing at thin air and wailing, no scary whispered into your arms as you hug him comfortingly. It’s a small blessing today of all days. Everything isn’t okay, but you will make it okay for him. There’s no other choice.

It is 6:22 am and you have a son. He has beautiful dark hair and bright eyes. He doesn’t talk much, but he loves books, and sometimes he seems like he’s looking at something you can’t see. He has a name that you’ve written a hundred times, tracing the characters with love. Kosuke is the light of your world and you want him to know that his mother will always keep him safe.