Lupa raced around his flat like a man with a mission. Everything had to be just right. For the third time that morning he checked everything off on his list; he mustn't forget anything. He looked at his watch. Only 1.30 p.m. Still three hours before the plane would land. He checked the baby chair attached to the table. That empty chair that had so wrenched his insides when he returned home that evening after their evacuation. That same chair almost seemed to come alive as Lupa realised that soon, very soon his son would be sitting, eating, laughing, playing in it. He glanced up at the clock, but that didn't make the time pass any quicker.

It had been long, far too long. When they had separated, it was only to be for a week or two, now some six months had passed. He missed his wife; her comforting presence, her sound adive, those evenings they had spent together batting various ideas back and forth before finally finding a solution to the problem they were discussing. He missed the hand stretching out to take his sometime in the night; the warmth of her body as they lay in each other's arms, the touch of her lips as they kissed. And his son... How he must have grown. He was nearly 18 months old, walking, no doubt a right little bag of mischief. He would have to give him a few lessons about what to touch and what not to touch. Scorpions were the biggest danger.

He had missed his son's first birthday. True, his wife had sent him photos, dozens of them. He lay them out before him. Did he want to be sure he'd recognise his son? A tear started to trickle down his cheek as Paul once again relived the nightmare of that day war had separated them. At the sound of clapping hands, he awoke from his reverie with a start. There was Charles come to get him to take him to the airport. Already, 3.50 p.m. They'd have to get a move on.

As they drove passed the check-point at the entrance to the airport, they saw the immense jumbo jet cross the river as it came in to land. In the entrance hall Charles showed the guard his security badge and Lupa tried to follow behind him, but the guard stopped him. Not even a small 'present' could get him through today.

"Don't worry, I'll get the baby and bring him out to you. Then, I'll go back and help your wife." Charles disappeared into the crowds. Some fifteen minutes later he appeared in the gateway carrying his son. Lupa raced towards him, a little too expectantly. As Charles handed the boy over, he started crying and held his little arms out towards Charles. He didn't want to go to this new stranger.

His wife greeted him as warmly as she could in a public place and together Charles drove them back to their house. Lupa did his best to avoid his disappointment. This was the moment he'd been looking forward to for months. They had warned him but he hadn't listened. Now he had to taste the bitter medicine for himself. But what else was it they had said: "Just be patient. You've been separated a long time. It's not easy coming back together. It'll take time. But it will be worth it." And this time Lupa hung on to those words with all his might.


I hope it all had a happy ending!

14 November 2008 at 09:01  

You have such a way with words...that was beautiful.

14 November 2008 at 09:18  

Well-meaning advice, but return from separation doesn't always mean disappointment, or change.

14 November 2008 at 09:31  

I hope the baby will soon realize who exactly the stranger is

14 November 2008 at 11:10  

I felt his sadness! Very well done.

14 November 2008 at 16:44  

For those who have asked this is part autobiographical as the thinly veiled name might have revealed. It happened some 17 years ago, and yes things did turn out well. I just wanted to capture the mood of a moment.

14 November 2008 at 19:14  

Very nicely done. The pacing and amount of suspense was spot-on. (side note: thanks for letting us know that all turned out well; some of us may be strangers, but that doesn't mean we were completely detached--isn't that wonderful?)

14 November 2008 at 22:02  

wonderfully written!! i, too, was entranced by his anticipation and then sadness at the meeting. i'm so glad to hear that things will turn out (and did turn out) well :)

14 November 2008 at 23:54  

Ah. I think he will warm up to his dad too. It's great how you drew us in to the story.

15 November 2008 at 05:00  

What a lovely story and all the nicer to find out that is real and all worked out in the end.

15 November 2008 at 07:48  

I felt the pain in your words. Separation from one's children, whether babies or adults, isn't easy. It's nice to know all turned out well. BJ

15 November 2008 at 16:31  

It will soon pass and the baby will remember who the stranger is.

16 November 2008 at 21:22  

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