"So here you are again?" Pretty slow thing to say to someone you've been waiting around for for eleven years. Pretty lame. But I said it. And I don't regret it. He stood in the doorframe, his large, cracked hands devulged by his pockets. His hair, which once was vivid black, like the raven in the night, was now specked with Silver. He wore glasses now. The thin type, just pocketing his face. He stood in a patch of sunlight and for that moment I saw the wrinkles which had formed on his rich, olive skin. "You don't look much different, Mallory. Just the same old girl I left." I said nothing. The word's within my throat offered no repreive. I was the same old. He was a different man. Older. Thinner. Sadder. Footsteps echoed on the stairs and in a moment, Josh appeared. He stood in the doorframe, well over his father in height. Josh had the same olive skin, but his hair was blode like mine. Pretty strange complextion. But Josh was beautiful, gorgous. Like his father. Standing in the door frame, Peter said nothing. Finally, he managed to cough out something. Stupid. Lame. "Josh...your...so...tall." Joshua glanced up. He always kept his face down like that, away, ever since he was a young child. "Umm, Mum. Who is this man?" He said it quietly so that only he and I could hear. Shame. Catastrophie when a boy can't even recognize his own father. I didn't say, Joshua, meet your father. Maybe I should have. But a father is more than the man who conceives you. A father is man who stands above and watchs you grow. So instead, I said, "Joshua, this is Peter."
I could see the hurt developing on Peter's face. The pain and what he called sacrifice drifting fourth. His pain wasn't my goal, but I didn't regret that it happened. Joshua lifted his face and as if suddenly he had come to some major revaltion he said:"Dad? Is that you?"
Peter brushed his hand against his face to wipe the tears before they fell. "I...I'm sorry. I don't know what else to say. I'm sorry." Joshua sat down at the table, saying nothing. "Well Jeus Pete," I said, finally unleashingmy anger. "Eleven years give you a long time to think." He was unconfortable. I wasn't about to spare him. He was a stranger. That was that. He had lost the role of husband and father the minute he walked out that door. He wern't some 24 hour convenient store. We didn't open and close our doors to every stragler and stranger who walked back in.
I put the coffee on. Joshua had dissipeared. Funny how seeing your father for the first time since you were six causes you not to want to see him at all. Funny. Not unperdictable.
Peter sat at the table, drumming his fingers back and fourth on the wood. I glanced out back to the driveway. His car, a Honda Civic, aqua blue, looked virtually new. The shadow of a woman was just visable. So he still was with her. Sandy. Tall, blonde. Foreign Relations worker for the Chech Repubic.
Tall, trilingual Sandy who had been the 50% in taking a father from his son. A husband from his wife.
"You still with her then," I said, placing a cup of steaming coffee infront of him. He nodded. "Sandy...Sandy and I were just coming through Hartford and I thought...maybe...I should
just stop in. See how Josh is doing." So that was how he was going to play it. Like it was an agreed seperation. A divorce that had left us as friends. "Maybe you should be curtious enough to invite her in then." He shook his. "It's best for Joshua that I just stop in for a minute."
He finnished the coffee within ten minutes. He was wearing a trench coat, long and black, and carried a breifcase. "I guess....if there's anything I can do, just give me a shout." Peter handed me a thin envelope. "My number", he said, smiling. He gave me a cold hug. "Tell Josh I'll call." I knew he was lieing. He was peter. He called maybe once every month,a couple of times a year. He was peter.
I watched for a moment as the car took off down the drive into the shadows of the late afternoon. It was then that I noticed he had forgotten his scarf. I picked it up. Another note of paper fell out.
"Dear Joshua, and Mallory if you read this.
I don't know if a million words can apologize for what I've done. I know money isn't everything, although it might have seemed that way in the past. I guess love is something I've always been lacking. I thought you should know, the doctors in both New York and Santa Fey have diagnosed my cancer as malignant. I don't know how much longer I have left in this world. I love you Josh. Don't forget it.
I felt my face burn for what I had done. And yet, thinking back, those words I had spoken the first day he left came rushing back.
Actions speak louder than words.