It was almost eleven o'clock when Richard returned home. And instead of finding his father waiting up for him he found his mother instead.
"You're late." Laura said from her position on the sofa. "Curfew is nine o'clock on a school night."
He shrugged. "I didn't know it was so late."
"Freddie's been home for two hours." she pointed out. "Where were you?"
"Just out." he started heading for his room. "Goodnight, mom."
He stopped mid-step and let out a long sigh. "Sorry I'm late, okay?" he didn't even bother to turn around. "I'm going to bed."
"Not yet you're not." she told him. "Come here I want to talk to you."
"Mom, please." he turned around. "I don't want to talk about anything right now. I just want to go to sleep. I'm tired."
Laura got up off the sofa. "Then you should have been home on time." she said. "I want to talk to you."
"Can't we do this in the morning?"
"No." her voice was firm. "Come sit down at the kitchen table with me."
Richard finally surrendered and followed his mother into the kitchen. "I haven't had enough time to think about any of this."
She sat down at the table. "It's not about you, Rich." she pushed out the chair for him with her foot. "Sit down."
He did as he was told. "I just can't believe that you and dad let something like this happen. I mean the two of you are much too old to be having children."
"We're not all that old." she couldn't help but smile. "Your father and I are completely capable to raising another child before it's time for us to go into the nursing home."
"I just don't understand." he said. "Why couldn't this have happened ten or fifteen years ago? Even five? Why now?"
"I guess now is just the right time, that's all." she told him. "That doesn't mean that we love you any less."
Richard took a deep breath and let out a heavy sigh. "I know that." he said. "It's just that...nothing...never mind."
"No, no, go on." Laura encouraged him.
"It's just that when I was younger and wanted a sibling I was always told someday." he started. "I just never imagined that someday would be when I was in college. That's all."
Laura's expression softened. "Oh, Richie." he hated that name now she couldn't help it, he was still her baby boy. "I think you're going to have a wonderful relationship with this baby. Maybe not the conventual sibling relationship, but you will you'll see."
He shrugged his shoulders. "I don't see how, mom."
"Well, you can take him or her to baseball games, to the amusement park." she said. "Teach things like how to ride a bike or throw a football. You'll be the fun older brother and the baby will love you."
"I'll hardly be around."
"You'll be here for holidays and during the summer." she reminded him. "The only things you're going to be missing out on at first are dirty diapers and midnight feedings."
Richard smiled. "I just hope he's sleeping through the night by the time I come home for summer break."
"Well, I can't promise that." she smiled at her son. "But I can promise that you're going to be very much included."
"I can pick the name?"
"Uh, you can have some input."
Richard smiled. "Just input?" he teased. "I was trying to save my baby brother the horror of a middle named akin to Rosebud."
"It's not really Rosebud, Rich." she said. "It's Robert Oscar Sam Edward..."
"Benjamin Ulysses David." he finished. "I know. It's still Rosebud, mom."
Laura sighed. "Just so you know I was leaning toward Alan."
"Like Alan Brady?"
"Well you have to admit it was a better suggestion."
He shrugged. "I guess being named after Alan Brady wouldn't be so bad."
"Feeling better about all of this?" she hedged.
"A little. This is still awkward, mom." he told her. "It's going to take some time to get used to."
"For me too." she told him. "I have to start all over, you know. It's been a long time since I've had to do midnight feedings and diaper changes."
"I hear they're disposable now."
"I'm sure a lot of things will have changed." she agreed. "But I'm sure we can figure things out together, as a family."
Richard smiled. "I think so too." he said, getting up. "I better get to bed, it's late."
"What do you want for breakfast?"
"I'll fix my own." he leaned down to kiss her cheek. "Goodnight, mom."