It was heart warming. A small child walked beside his father, clutching within each of his hands something precious to him. The first hand clutches his small bear. His mother had given him this present before she had left for her trip to some far off land. He would speak to his bear each night, and tell it tales of the adventures his mother may have been having. She was in Brazil. He had always heard of South America as a rain forest, so he imagined she was having tea with Tarzan.
His other hand clutched tightly to his father, the man who cautiously tucked him in at night, read him stories, and persuaded him to continue his imaginative tales. He was tall, with dirty blonde hair, and a smooth face. The boy did not understand what this meant to others. Of course, he found his father handsome, but he never imagined that the women on the street were looking at his father for more than a passing glance.
This man was twenty-three years old. To the little boy, he was far older than that. He was almost legendary in the child’s small mind. Not that the child wasn’t vastly intelligent for his young age. Though he could not understand when people asked if he was his father’s little brother.
“Daddy,” he’d say “why do they ask if you’re my brother? You’re so big.” His beautiful eyes would stare up at his father, who at first would shake his head in shame, but then smile at the child’s comment.
“Christian, sometimes people see things differently. You can’t listen to them, they’re fools.” The child didn’t understand much of that, but he knew what a fool was. A fool was a person who was wrong. Or silly. He didn’t understand now how so many people could be wrong, but he didn’t question it. His father would never lie to him.
Christian had walked this path with his father the day before, and probably for some many days before that. They had walked there every day since his mother had left for her “work”, as his father had told him. The trees which were fresh with spring buds on the first walk had now begun to turn to vibrant shades of oranges and reds.
“Daddy, will mommy be back for Halloween?” It had long since been the child’s favourite holiday. He took great pleasure in the spooks and stories which the “scariest” day of the year offered him. He had never been afraid of ghosts and ghouls, and would laugh at the county’s haunted house. He was a brave little boy, which was very fortunate.
His father choked back for a moment, unsure of how he would tell his son the news. “No, mommy had to extend her trip honey, she’ll be back a bit later than that”
He choked back on his words and shook his head. “little later than that, sorry.”
Each time his father shook his head, and said “no.”
Christian took in this information, and closed his eyes for a moment. It was as though his little brain was a computer which was working over time. At six years old, he had more bravery than the grown man before him. He had the courage to bring up the topic which neither of them wanted to face. “Mommy’s not coming home, is she?”
It was the first time his father had cried in front of him. His tough features melted for a few moments into a weakened state. He hated that his little boy could see his pain, he hated that he wasn’t able to tell him the truth.
“No, she’s not.”
Christian nodded, and then smiled. He closed his hand tighter around his fathers. “It’s okay daddy. We’ll be fine.”
He looked down into the eyes of his six year old son, and for the first time since he had read the petition for divorce, he smiled and meant it. “Yes, we will be Chris; you’re a smart little thing, aren’t you.”
Christian just giggled at his father’s affection. If only he understood how smart he really was.