Man Up (Chapter 8: Book Two, page 1 of 37)

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June 2007

- Age 25

"Happy birthday to you… Happy birthday to you… Happy birthday dear Avery Junior- happy birthday to you…"

This was as close to fatherhood as Jayden figured he wanted to get- godfather. Jayden sat in a corner at his best friend's house abstractly distracted as he absent-mindedly half listened to all of the little children singing happy birthday to Avery's son - A.J. At the sound of them singing the melody so sweetly, his own mind wheeled backwards in time to his very own six-year old birthday party. He never anticipated that being at his god son's birthday party would release a floodgate of so many hurtful and painful memories.

Suddenly he was no longer Jayden Eric Townsend age 25, but rather he was first-grader Jayden Eric Townsend - age six.

"Are you sure you can't make it?" He suddenly could hear his mom's voice again. She didn't know that he was listening behind the door to her bedroom as she pleaded with his father to come to his party.

"It's not about what I want… Jayden wants you here."

"Just once Jacob, don't you think you should meet your son at least once?" Jayden heard his mother attempting to persuade his father. His heart was literally breaking into pieces.

"Mom… mom please don't beg anymore. I'll be good from now on. I promise I won't ask about him again…" Jayden silently begged to himself wishing his mom would not beg. Jayden had never been so sorry than when his mom had asked him 'what do you want for your birthday'; and he unthinkingly asked back, 'Where's my daddy and can he come?'

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