He looked just like mom always said. Short brown hair and blue eyes with the build of a carpenter. He wore a flannel shirt and some torn up blue jeans. Not the kind you buy from the store but the kind where every rip tells the story of a day.
Honestly I could hardly contain myself. I started in a slow stride but by the end I was in a full sprint with tears freezing to my cheeks. He opened his arms and embraced me. My tears soaked into his shirt.
“Oh my god there is so much I’ve always wanted to ask you Hank. How’s your mother? And your older sister?”
“They’re both doing great dad,” I choked out through the weeping. We hugged for a few more moments before I stepped back and wiped my eyes.
“Sarah and her husband just had their 4th kid. He wants a full basketball team in a few years,” the two of us laughed, “and mom ran into some trouble with the law. Single parent trying to support two kids but she… she’s doing better now. Has a steady job and a steady paycheck. Put all that stuff behind her.”
“I know… I know… I saw that… I wish i could’ve been there to help. So she’s doing alright? Your mother?”
“Yeah she’s doing much better. Want me too go get them? They’re just up in the house.” I pointed a glove covered finger through the snow.
“I’d love too but I don’t know how long I have or how far I am allowed to wander,” he gazed at the fire then back to me, “Tell me about yourself.”
“Well I graduated top of my high school class, valedictorian and everything. Right now I’m going to MIT and studying Mechanical Engineering.”
“Wow. MIT. You are with out a doubt the smartest person in the family.”
“Yeah… yeah haha. I feel like an outsider some times… I really wish you could’ve been there. I didn’t have a male role model in my life. I had to figure all the man stuff out on my own like shaving and talking to girls. I’m better at some of it more than others. See all nice and smooth.” I rubbed my freshly trimmed face and chuckled.
“Yeah but you’re a smart kid. I know you’ll figure it out.” He looked at the bonfire and went quiet for a second, “I think it’s about time for me too go.” He was staring at me now. “I’m proud of you son. My entire life was worth it for you.”
He stepped away and began walking back towards the fire. I tried my best to hold back the tears. I didn’t do a very good job.
“I’ll keep bringing you flowers every year!” I shouted at him.
“Make it twice a year!” He shouted back.
And with that he stepped into the fire. Gone once again.