Dear Friends and Readers,
The following flash was written to this week’s prompt at Flash!Friday, where I’m judging today. I couldn’t quite pare it down to 150 words -this is just over 400- and since it’s ineligible anyway, I’ve left it as is. Enjoy!
The Wait for Forgiveness
Chandeliers cast soft, golden reflections upon the windows of the train pulling into Gare du Nord. Footsteps of waiting pedestrians, along with Francois’, echoed throughout the terminus. Memories of years past danced with his fear and a longing ache.
Sophie had her mother’s dark hair and eyes. Francois was sure he’d recognize her, even now as a grown woman. After eight years, though, he worried that she wouldn’t know him. She’d been too young to understand that he’d spent their grocery money on booze. She would remember going without because he had.
She would remember his sandy hair and hazel eyes, and she would remember his mistakes. Would she remember that he loved her? Sophie hadn’t even agreed to meet him, not really. She only said she would consider it.
As the train screeched to a halt, he debated leaving, never knowing if she’d come or not. If he stayed, she may throw his mistakes back in his face, remind him of what a horrible father he was. She may curse the years her mother spent trying to raise her alone, and even more so those years when he was there. Even if he stayed, she may not come at all.
But if she did, and if she railed against him, resolved to have her say and walk away from him forever, it was no less than he deserved. If the last thing Sophie needed from him was closure, he would be the father she deserved and let her have it.
A woman wearing a white blouse with a navy skirt stepped off the train and scanned the terminal. Her ebony eyes halted abruptly when they met his. Her raven locks were swept up into a high ponytail, just like she used to wear it when she was twelve. His heart rose to his throat, and he bit his lip to keep from crying at the sight of her.
She approached him slowly. When she was within arm’s reach, she stopped and held his gaze. For a moment, neither of them dared to breathe. He waited to see if she would strike him or curse him. Instead, she gave him a moment he would treasure for the rest of his days, a gift that he would never again take for granted. She moved closer, and -like she did when she was little- opened her arms for a hug.