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Bun in the Oven


Mackenzie Domazet

“Dad, I’m serious- don’t do anything crazy while we’re gone.” Nick looked his father in the eyes and repeated himself for the third time. He put his hands out, as if to stop his father from getting too close.
“Nick, buddy, relax. I’ve looked after a kiddo before. Hell, I raised you and your sisters all on my own. You really don’t think I can babysit your little boy for an afternoon?” Murray grabbed Nick jokingly on his shoulders and shook him.
“No, dad-” Nick wriggled out of his father’s squeezing hands. “I’m not kidding you, Dad. My parenting techniques are a lot different than yours were. We don’t raise our son the same way you raised me.”

Murray sighed, dropped his hands to his side and said sarcastically, “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that, Nick. Would you like to discuss that over a cup of tea and a tray of biscuits?” He gave his son a hearty punch in the left arm.

Nick rubbed his clammy hands on his navy slacks as he flashed back to his childhood with his father. He instantly thought of the five-year period during which six-foot-three Murray forced Nick to play full-contact tackle football with him every Sunday afternoon. Or when Murray had to be forcibly removed from Nick’s high school debating tournament because he shouted ‘derogatory and potentially threatening phrases’ at Nick’s opponents. “It’s a debating tournament for God’s sake!” Nick had reminded his father in the car home. But it was the closest thing to organized sport that Nick willingly participated in, so Murray was determined to make it as competitive as possible. Then there was, of course, the infamous motorcycle incident. At eight years old, a helmetless Nick took a ride on the back of his father’s motorcycle. Murray took them on the highway, at which point a Department of Motor Transportation officer pulled them over and nearly arrested him. Twenty-five years later, Nick still cringed at the memories.
“All right, are we all ready to go?” Beth called as she walked into the kitchen. She fastened an earring into her left ear with one hand and held baby Brayden in her other arm.

“Um, yeah, just about,” Nick replied nervously, as he walked slowly to the stainless steel fridge to retrieve the baby bottle.
“Hey, there’s the man of the hour!” Murray’s voice boomed and he reached out to grab for Brayden.
“Hey Murray,” Beth laughed as she handed the baby over to her father-in-law with an easy smile. It was her parents that were usually the ones to come and babysit. They showed up on time, took the baby to the park, put him down for a nap and left the house quietly once Beth and Nick got home, careful not to wake Brayden. For the first time since the baby was born six months ago, however, Beth’s parents had cancelled last minute. “I’m so sorry Beth,” her mother told her last night over the phone. “Your father and I aren’t feeling well. I would hate to get my beautiful grandson sick.” That left Murray.
“Nick, our appointment with the couch designer is at 1 o’clock,” Beth said softly. She took the bottle from her husband’s now-shaking hands and put it in the microwave.

“Right, sure, yeah I remember. And you’re positive we can’t cancel this thing, right?” Nick asked as he lowered his voice. He glanced at his father who now held Brayden like a football: the baby’s head rested in his palm and his tiny body sprawled across his forearm.

Beth looked at Murray to make sure he hadn’t overheard before she replied. “We have had this appointment for months. Trina is the best furniture designer in the city, and I am not about to cancel an hour beforehand just because your father…” she trailed off and flailed her hands. Then, she inhaled, picked the car keys off of the marble counter, fastened the middle button on her bourbon-coloured cashmere sweater and marched across the kitchen to Murray and Brayden. “Alright, Murray, we’re off. We should be back by four at the latest. Nick’s cell number is on the fridge and mine is on the counter. I left both of our pin numbers for you too, just in case. If you get hungry, we have some gluten-free chips in the pantry and dairy-free ice cream in the freezer. Oh,” she said before Murray could ask her, “and there’s a six-pack in the fridge, but Nick doesn’t like people drinking in front of the baby, so try to do it while Brayden’s napping.” She rolled her eyes at the last instruction.
Nick nudged her in the ribs and mumbled, “The oven, tell him about the oven rule, Beth.”
Beth sighed. “What? Oh right, I forgot. Murray, we aren’t sure why, but Brayden always starts to cry when he hears the oven timer beep. The doctor says it’s just a phase—some babies cry when they hear the doorbell, ours cries when he hears the oven timer. I know it sounds odd, but Nick and I are starting to think it’s the entire oven itself that scares him. He cries when you put him near it, so try to keep him out of the kitchen and away from the oven,” she said as she kissed her son on his head.

Murray looked from Beth to Nick and then back to Beth. “Uh, yeah, okay sure,” Murray scratched his head. “Yeah I’ll keep him away from the oven or whatever. Hey, you kids got HD right? The football game is on in an hour and I hear it’s a lot better in high def,” Murray said in his deep, husky voice.
“Yup,” Beth called out as she walked towards the front door while Nick trailed behind her. “HD and surround sound. Enjoy!”
After a silent, thirty minute car ride, Nick and Beth stood in the middle of Trina Nishimura’s private showroom. Beth grinned happily while Trina herself flipped through fabric swatches as they stood amidst the rows of sectional couches and plush cushioned chairs. “I am in love with that!” Beth squealed as Trina sketched a tuxedo style, high back sofa in a cream raw silk. “Oh, beautiful! You’re genius!” she said with excitement.
“Um, no! Hang on a minute Trina,” Nick interjected, waving his hands over the sketchbook. “I want to make sure you understand what I said before. My wife and I don’t want a couch that’s too soft or comfy. Our son could suffocate in it! If he is lying on his tummy on the sofa, his head could get buried in all that soft material, right Beth?” he looked to his wife with wide eyes .

“Nick,” Beth said in a low voice as she glanced self-consciously at Trina. “Could you please just let us—”
“Oh, and I forgot to mention before, we need a material that is 100% hypo-allergenic and eco-friendly. Preferably from a local factory, but I know how hard that can be so if you have to import it, you can,” Nick added. “And just so you are aware, my wife and I would like calming colours to be injected into the design palette to create a soothing experience for Brayden when he’s in the room.”
The showroom fell silent. Beth exhaled heavily. “Nick,” she said as she placed a hand on her husband’s shoulder. “I appreciate how… involved you are but frankly, you’re de-railing the creative process here. Can you please just leave Trina and me to design the couch. I promise we will make it baby-proof. Please?” She looked her husband in the eye seriously. When he didn’t reply, she gently guided him towards the set of stairs that led to the showroom’s basement, and Nick walked down them silently.

“How unbelievable was that?” Beth asked her husband as they walked down the driveway and away from Trina’s showroom. She wove her arm through Nick’s and her heels clicked against the cobblestone ground as they strolled back to their car. She had spent the past two hours with the designer, and emerged with a custom couch, loveseat and dining room chair set. “I just can’t wait until they deliver it. Three to four weeks can’t come soon enough!” Nick laughed and kissed his wife’s cheek. While Trina and Beth had chatted about fabric and furniture, Nick had met Trina’s co-worker, Anderson, who talked Nick into a wine cellar for his basement. Once Anderson agreed to ship the cellar’s wood from a Brazilian forest that Nick had read about in Green Parenting magazine, the pair designed the rest of the wine cellar happily. The plans had distracted Nick from his worries about Murray and Brayden.

As they got into the car, Beth pulled her cell phone out of her purse and placed it on the centre consul. “Hey, would you look at that, Nick? I didn’t get one call from your father, not one. No texts, no messages, nothing.” She winked at her husband, who reached into his pocket to check his phone too.
“Me neither.” He blushed. “I may have exaggerated just a little, but we can’t celebrate yet. Don’t say anything until we are sure he hasn’t burned the house down.”
Nick had started the car, backed out of the driveway and was on the highway when his phone vibrated noisily. He glanced at Beth to see if she looked panicked, but her lips remained pursed in a small smile and her eyes stayed focused on the road in front of her. Nick quickly picked up the phone from where it lay on the consul. He took his eyes off the road to type in his password. B-r-a-y-d-e-n. It was a text message, not a phone call. Surely if something were wrong, Murray would have the common sense to call instead of text, so whatever it was, it couldn’t be too bad. “It’s probably just a co-worker or something,” Nick mumbled absently and glanced back to the highway with one hand on the wheel. He looked back down to where his phone lay in his palm. He clicked the small, square yellow icon and the screen erupted into the words: text message from Dad. Nick’s heart skipped a beat. He clicked the icon again and the screen filled with a picture of baby Brayden, clad in his white diaper, laying in an oval cooking dish in the oven. His eyes were bright and stared directly at the camera, and his mouth was open into a big smile, wet with drool. The pads of his tiny feet were pressed together and his belly was big and round. “Oh my God!” Nick shouted, as he veered out of his lane. “Beth!” He jabbed the phone into her hand. Beth looked at the screen and her eyes grew wide. She placed a delicate hand over her mouth and gasped. Underneath the photo was the message: Thought I’d help the little guy get over his fear of ovens so that he doesn’t turn into a scaredy cat like his old man! Brings a new meaning to bun in the oven, eh?! LOL.

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