Andrew Boryga

I’m excited, right? This is what excitement feels like? 

Nico tried hard to assess his emotions as he lathered his body with soap. On any other given morning, he could have explained precisely what the emotion of excitement entailed. He might have even made a joke about a hard-on.

But today, and, in fact, ever since Roxana had broken the news to him three days prior, he struggled to define the feelings associated with the word. He found himself even trying to expand the definition to include the other feelings he was experiencing: Apprehension, nervousness, fear. 

You could feel these things as part of being excited, too, right? He told himself he could. Of course he fucking could. Of course he was fucking excited. 

After all, he’d never been one of those dudes who was resigned to never having kids. He figured he would, eventually. He just didn’t think eventually would come around now, at age 28, when he was still getting comfortable with the reality of him being a married man and a homeowner at a time when most of his boys were still living with roommates, running through randos from Tinder, and waking up drunk and hungover on Tuesday mornings like it was a ritual. 

Now, what, a kid, too? 

Nico lowered his head and allowed his scalp to be massaged by the water jettisoning from the shower head. The strong flow is something he took great pride in, and every now and then he’d stand there and think about how the water pressure symbolized the jump he’d made in status over the course of his life. 

After all, growing up in the Bronx, he was used to water eking out like little spurts of cum on the second go around. Used to the water coming out brown every now and then. Used to running it for minutes on end before it would ever turn a bit warm — especially in the frigid winters. 

But now, he didn’t have these problems. The water flow was steady. And his shower was tiled and expansive. Large enough that he and Roxana could shower together, and do other things in there while they were at it, with comfort and ease. 

When Nico emerged, Roxana was in the kitchen, leaning against the countertop, scrolling, despondent. “Do you know that I can’t have coffee?” she said.

“What do you mean?” 

“It’s not good for the baby,” she said. “Apparently, I have to switch to fucking decaf.” 

Nico took off his towel and dried his hair. “Do we even have decaf?”

“No,” she said. “Why would anyone buy such a thing. In fucking Miami of all places.” 

Roxana put her phone on the counter. She put her hand on her stomach — a stomach that was still so flat, that Nico found it hard to believe there was in fact a baby forming in there, a life, a whole ass human, growing like one of those lima bean projects from elementary school. A human that he would allegedly be responsible for.

“The sacrifices I have to make for you,” Roxana said in a cute voice. She smiled and rubbed. 

Nico wondered if she felt anything along the lines of what he’d been feeling. If any inch of doubt had crept in. From the outside, it seemed like just the opposite. Roxana seemed happier; more willing to roll with changes that would have completely debilitated Nico, like not being able to have his stiff café con leche every morning. Depriving himself of such a luxury, he thought, would be enough to call off the whole endeavor if the shoe were on the other foot. Fuck that kid. 

He entered the closet. “What’s your day looking like?” 

Roxana followed, stopping at the threshold. “I gotta run around,” she said. “Pop in to the Aventura project to show face and see how things are going. They’re almost finished up — I hope. We’re waiting on these chairs from Italy that are taking for fucking ever to get here. I told Lisa that would be the case, but she had to have them, and now I have to hear about the delay — like it’s my fucking fault.” She sighed. “Anyway. I’ll do that and then, if I’m lucky, I’ll make this client meeting in Coconut Grove.” 

“New business?” Nico said over his shoulder, buttoning up a crisp white shirt. 

“Hopefully,” Roxana said. “Seems simple enough. Newlyweds, with Papi’s money, and Papi’s old fuck pad. It looks very Tony Montana right now but they’re aiming for Millennial Chic. It shouldn’t be too hard. Eighteen-hundred square feet. I just hope they don’t want any weird materials. If the lead times are long, I mean, shit I could be in the hospital pushing this baby out while their couches are floating in a shipping container. Then what?” 

Nico turned and nodded. 

Roxana stared at him. 

He realized she hadn’t been asking a rhetorical question. 

They hadn’t yet broached the subject: What precisely would they do when the baby arrived? They each owned their own businesses, after all, which was wonderful and a source of pride for both of them and their families, until things they’d never considered entered the picture — like parental leave and healthcare plans. 

Then there was the budget, which was nonexistent. Aside from their new mortgage, the utilities, and individual car payments, the money they made each month was spent freely on nice dinners in Wynwood and the Design District, costly French white wine, clothes, and at least two international jaunts a year. They’d built up their life in such a way that most places they went, they could simply swipe their card without a second’s thought, knowing that they’d be good in the end. How would that change with a kid? 

Nico smoothed out the creases on his khaki pants, and grabbed a pair of white sneakers from the floor. “I guess we’ll just see where we’re at by that point. It’s kind of early to get that far ahead of ourselves.” 

Roxana bit the inside of her cheek. “I mean, God willing, where we’ll be at is with a baby, Nico. I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to oversee projects. Not sure how much I’ll be able to work.”

Nico looked in the mirror and focused on his current form: a recently married, young, good-looking, childless man, in control of the right now. He’d taken this form for granted for so long, but in that moment, he felt himself trying to batten it down — straining with all his might to keep it from changing. 

“I know. And we’ll figure it out. I’m just saying, let’s not get too worried about all of that. We got time.” 

“Yeah, pero not that much time.” Roxana came over to Nico from behind, and smoothed out his collar. “We have some things to figure out.” 

Nico turned to face her, and smiled. “I’m just saying, we don’t have to plan it all right here right now. Okay?” 

“Mmhmm.” Roxana kissed him. “Okay, Nico. But you can’t run forever.” She turned to leave.

Nico waited until he heard the front door close before emerging from the closet himself. He checked his calendar, realized he didn’t have any client calls that morning, just content planning and drafting to power through. He gathered his things and focused on filling his leather laptop bag, not the question jumping his brain from all sides. What would they do? 


Nico stood for a moment at the steps of his building entrance and stared up at all the other gloriously white, massive glass and concrete girthy dicks of Brickell thrusting their full force into that blue sky. He looked at the cranes circling them. The men hard at work to build newer, taller dicks. The day looked just like every other day for the past few months. It was as if God, just like everyone else in Miami, got tired of actually doing his job and just copied and pasted out of convenience. 

Nico didn’t mind. He looked at the weather like a drug. It lulled you into a state of constant bliss. How upset could you be when you woke up to days like this? How much could you really care about what was occurring on other parts of the planet?

The drug was called paradise. And Nico didn’t even need to swallow it like the ecstasy he was purging himself of. He took a hit each time he stepped outside. It had always got him right. Washed away whatever pain he carried around, whatever pain the world carried, even if only until the next morning when he saw the sun and the trees and the blue skies once more. 

Inside Maravilla, Victor was ringing up a customer and gave Nico a thumbs up when he saw him. Nico sat in his seat that faced the large glass windows of the shop and looked out onto the street and the black and white sports cars dotting the curb. The seat in the coffee shop had not been formally given to Nico, presented like a city key to a celebrity, but it might as well have been. For ever since the shop first opened three years ago, coinciding with the arrival of Nico in the neighborhood, he’d been coming there almost every morning. 

In need of a place to work out of part of the day, Nico made an unspoken deal with Victor. In lieu of getting a co-working space, he’d just come and work out of the shop every morning, spend enough on a coffee or two, and a tequeño or an empanada to make it worthwhile for Victor. 

By the time Nico had his laptop open and began to look through emails, Victor appeared with his café con leche. This, Nico thought, was worth all the money in the world. 

“Qué pasa mano, todo bien?” Victor asked. 

“Todo bien,” Nico said, more out of habit than truth. Because despite having had his daily hit, todo was not fucking bien.

“Quiere algo más?” Victor asked, gesturing over to a large glass case glittering with golden baked delicacies. “Los tequeños están tremendo hoy.” 

Nico, something of a salesman himself, admired Victor’s acumen. Of course they were tremendo today, as they were every day. He ordered two. Victor returned quickly with Nico’s food in a little red basket and set it down. 

Nico looked at the squat man, almost as if it were the first time, despite the fact they’d been interacting daily for three years. In Miami, where Nico came without having known really anyone, Victor probably counted as one of his friends.

“Mira, Vic, you got kids?” Nico asked. 

Their coffee shop relationship had never skimmed below the surface of the weather, local sports teams, and subtle jabs about the president in power. But Nico was starting to look at the men in his orbit differently. Starting to wonder things he’d never cared about before. Were they dads? Good dads? And what the fuck was a good dad anyway? 

Victor seemed surprised Nico was intent on breaking the fourth wall, like he’d maybe been waiting for the chance to open up about his personal life all along. “Claro, chico. Tengo dos. One of them está por allá en Fort Myers con mis nietos. Two babies. And the other, my daughter, in California.” Victor looked around for a second, making sure no one was in earshot, then whispered: “She’s gay.” 

He pulled back and shrugged his shoulders, as if to say, what can I do? “Pero ella está feliz. Entonces yo soy feliz.” He made the sign of the cross and looked up toward the ceiling briefly.

Did this make him a bad dad, Nico wondered. He still loved her after all, right? “You shouldn’t say stuff like that out loud, Victor.” 

“Y por qué? It’s the truth. No seas tan sensible like my daughter, mano.” 

“Bro, how the fuck old are you, Victor?” Nico had always guessed he was in his 40s. But now he realized he must have been all off. 

Victor grinned, stroked his stubbly beard. “Estoy bien hecho, papá!” He clapped his hands to celebrate the thrashing together of colonization, slavery, rape, and thrill of unknown pussy that ultimately resulted in his spectacular genetic makeup. 

“You must have been young when you had them, no?” 

“Vamo a ver.” Victor smushed his lip up, rattled his head a bit like a baseball bobble-head trying to kick up dates and years like his kids were things he’d long ago stored in his attic and forgotten about. “I think I had como 19 years when my son was born. I had 21 years,” he stuck out his hand, tilted it sideways like an overturning ship, “por ahí, when my daughter was born.” 

Nico tried to imagine what it would be like to have a kid that young and barely remember it. It didn’t compute. 

He couldn’t comprehend how someone could be 20 or 21 and feel okay with the responsibility of raising a human. And yet for previous generations that shit seemed totally fine. His grandmother, a mom at 16, later, a mom of six by 30, rolled these facts off about her life as dry as the losing lotto numbers.

And yet here was Nico at 28 and having trouble. Does that make me privileged? He wondered. Or were the previous generations just fucking willing? They ain’t have no internet after all. What else did they have to do besides fuck? They were probably bored as hell, Nico concluded. 

A small bell sounded, signaling the arrival of a new customer in the café. Victor smiled, tapped Nico’s table, and left. 

A man entered the shop, trailed outside by a little boy who looked to Nico to be about three years old. 

There was nothing scientific about this guess. He assumed all kids who were able to walk in a coordinated fashion but were still so short were about three years old. Just like he assumed that kids who could not walk, and who had that look about them like they didn’t even really have thoughts yet, but were just looking around the world in constant disbelief, thinking, how the fuck did I get here?, were somewhere around six months old.

The man opened the door and stood there for a while, holding it open as his son took his sweet time, stopping to fondle some flowers near the entrance, and right after that, pick up a cigarette butt and inspect it near his face like it was a thousand-year-old relic. 

“Noah, drop that,” his father said. 

Noah looked his father in the face, then opened his mouth and dangled the cigarette butt over his outstretched tongue. 

“Noah. Come on, man.” 

Noah kept the butt positioned exactly where it was. “No, papá,” he responded, in a tone that Nico could only describe as evil.

Nico watched the father release a deep, depressing sigh. He looked at his wrist watch, then turned to look inside of the coffee shop, which was sparsely populated because rush hour had passed. He made eye contact with Nico. To Nico’s eyes, he was older, but not much that older. Perhaps mid-30s.

The father abandoned his position at the front door, and Nico watched as he stomped back outside, swatted the cigarette butt out of his son’s hands, and picked him up swiftly like he was a big ass bag of potatoes at Costco. 

Inside, he deposited his kid on the floor, sucked his teeth and brushed dirt off his cream pants. They were almost the same shade as the ones Nico wore. The sort of pants that only really worked in a city like Miami. 

Noah wore a t-shirt full of miniature dinosaurs and sneakers that lit up in a pattern that reminded Nico of 3 a.m. at Club Space. As soon as his feet touched the ground, the boy sprinted toward a rack of chips, cookies, and candies that, it suddenly dawned on Nico, Victor probably kept there for this very purpose. The man is a fucking genius, Nico thought. 

Noah grabbed a bag of chocolate M&Ms and flashed a wide smile. Victor stopped listening to a WhatsApp voice note on his phone, and leaned over the counter. “You want those, papo?” 

His father rushed over. “No. We’re, I’m, just getting a coffee. An iced latte to go please,” he said. “Noah, it’s too early for dulces, okay?” He pointed over to the rack. “Put it back please.” 

Noah turned and held up the bag of M&Ms before his face. “Dulces. I want dulces, papá.” 

The father looked down for a moment, then twisted his head from side to side, like he was trying to work out a knot. “We talked about this, remember, Noah,” he said through gritted teeth. “No dulces in the morning, okay?” 

The father looked up at Victor, busy digging ice out of a cooler behind him, and getting the espresso machine going. 

Noah was unmoved. He tapped his father’s leg with the bag. “I want dulces.” 


“I want dulces,” he said again, in the cold-blooded demeanor of a crime show villain. But before his father could respond, Noah repeated the demand. Again, and again, like it was a dark spiritual chant. “Dulces, dulces, DULCES!” The final utterance resonated around the room like a sonic boom. 

Noah’s father looked down and closed his eyes. Nico wondered if he was praying. 

“Noah, please,” the father said. “Por favor. Not right now, okay? Please don’t start.” 

He sounded like a broken man, Nico thought. Reduced to begging in public. 

Noah, meanwhile, seemed rejuvenated by his father’s despair. He jumped up and down, shook his balled fists. “Dulces, dulces, dulces!” Nico watched the lights on the boy’s sneakers brighten with each jump. Then, in a flash, the boy was on the ground, writhing like a tipped over bug. 

“Noah, please. Noah, get up from the damn floor man.” 

Victor slid the father’s iced coffee across the counter. “Quiere algo más, caballero?” 

The words were barely audible over the boy’s screams on the ground. Nico watched him thrash. 

What would he do in this situation? He hadn’t a fucking clue. Not one. 

“Alright, alright, para,” the father said.“Dios mío.” 

He reached into his back pocket to pull out his wallet and slapped a card on the marble countertop. He reached out for the bag of M&Ms, but Noah was lost in a daze, convulsing. The father crouched down, grabbed the boy and threw him over his shoulder once more. “Give me the bag so I can pay, papá. Please.” 

Noah, tears streaming from his eyes, caught his breath and held the bag of candy up for his father, who placed it on the counter next to his coffee. 

After paying up, Noah’s father set him back on the ground. 

Shoving M&Ms into his mouth, the boy’s face had completely changed. He was calm, serene. Suddenly he did not seem to mind using his own two feet. The father finally took a sip of his coffee. “Thanks,” he said to Victor. “And sorry about…” 

Victor waved the words away. “Yo también tengo hijos. Eso no es nada.” 

It was almost like they were part of some secret society, Nico thought. 

Noah popped another M&M into his tiny mouth and walked triumphantly toward the entrance. His father tailed him, sipping. As he neared the door, near Nico’s table, he made eye contact with him once more. 

“Kids, huh?” Nico said, trying to soften the man’s stare. To bring levity to a situation that gave him the inclination that he should never have that talk with Roxana. That perhaps they should have a different talk entirely. 

“What can you do?” the father said, opening the door for Noah. 

He followed his boy out and Nico watched as the two walked down the sun-kissed block. Halfway down, he saw Noah stop and lift his arms up to be carried. 

“What can you do?” Nico said.

More from Issue Two

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