"Tyler! Let's go."
Tyler emerged from under the tablecloth, much to Isabel's delight. "I found you, I found you!" she squealed.
He wanted to tell her that she hadn't really found him, but he didn't. Instead he whispered in her ear. "Somebody's behind that bush."
She looked up at him with shining eyes and bounded off. Tyler saw Dad waiting by the car and picked up one of the remaining baby cupcakes before joining him.
"Let's go and see if your new bike chain's ready, little man," Dad said as he threw his suit jacket into the back seat.
Tyler hopped into the front seat – something only Dad ever let him do – and thought of his bike in the trunk. "Dad," he said between licks of icing off his fingers, "could we put the new chain on?"
Dad started the car. "That's what we're going to do."
"No, I mean us. You and me. And then can we go biking?"
He saw the lightbulb turn on in Dad's head. "Oh, I see. I guess so, but it's been a long time since I've done that kind of thing…."
Tyler ignored the last clause. "Sweet, thanks!"
They both waved at gathering – Dad to his friends, Tyler to the kids – as they backed into the street.
Upbeat music met Tyler's ears as Dad led the way into the sports shop. Tyler scanned the racks: bikes, skateboards, soccer balls, helmets, runners, you name it: this guy had his bases covered.
Except for the bike chains he didn't have two weeks ago.
"Yo, 'sup, man?" the proprietor hailed.
"Not much, C," Dad said with a high-five. Tyler couldn't remember what the connection between them was.
C grinned at Tyler. "Dig the threads, mini-man."
A little something – an awkward laugh of some sort? – escaped Tyler.
"We came to see if his bike chain's in."
"Oh, yeah. Yeah, I got the shipment last week. Almo' sold out again, but I saved one fo' you." C headed to the back room and rummaged around the shelves. "I coulda sworn I put it – aha!" He emerged with the chain and a broad smile. "'ere ya go, mini-man."
Dad slapped down a twenty. "So, how's life with that new roommate of yours?"
"I's cool, man, i's cool. Dude sleeps all the time, so i's perfect." The register opened.
"Yeah? What's he do when he's awake?"
"Video games, I think. And his part-time job. And orderin' up mountains of pizza." C handed Dad his change.
"And how 'bout you? Anything new besides the roomie?"
Tyler rolled his eyes at his chain. This was going to take a while. In hopes that maybe it wouldn't, he shambled over to the entrance and looked out at the other shops in the mall. Well, technically not at them; more spaced out in their general direction. Until a series of tiny blue spots caught his eye. He looked back at dad and C. A couple minutes wouldn't hurt. He left the store and over to the one directly across.
He saw Dad's reflection a few minutes later.
"Hey, Tyler, sorry. Didn't mean to take that long... hey, whatcha lookin' at?"
"Japanese betta fish."
"Why don't you look at the lizards or something more interesting than fish?"
Tyler shrugged. "Mom won't let me have pets. I'm trying to convince her that a fish isn't much work."
Back and forth, up and down. The little blue fish clearly had nothing else to do. Tyler understood. He really did. Came with having divorced parents. Back and forth, back and forth...
Tyler shook himself. "Sorry, what?"
"I said, 'Do you want one?'"
"Why not? We'll just keep it at my place."
"You'll feed it and everything?"
"Sure, except for when you come to visit."
One corner of Tyler's mouth went up. "Thanks, Dad!"
The credits music abruptly ended, leaving only the sound of the air conditioner. Tyler stretched his legs out further on the coffee table, inches away from the fishbowl.
"Give her a name yet?"
Tyler looked up at Dad. "Who, the fish? Naw, not yet. Haven't thought of the right name."
They sat in silence for a couple minutes, watching the fish wiggle her fins. Dad finally roused himself. "Well, kiddo, it's late and there's church tomorrow."
"Okay. Thanks for putting the chain on with me. And for the fish." He decided against saying anything about the bike ride that never happened. And anyway, there were delays leading up to it and he knew Dad wasn't in control of those.
Dad gave a tired, one-sided smile and tousled Tyler's hair. "No prob, bud. Good night."
Tyler scooted off the couch and headed toward his room. In the semi-dark of the entryway, he toed something. He squatted down to examine it closer. There, still propped where Dad had deposited it earlier, sat the Resolution. He felt his chest swell a little with pride.
"'Promise'," he said out loud.
"What's that, Tyler?"
"The fish. Her name's 'Promise'."
Author's Note: Again, no promises of when the next update will come. :-)