Pausing on the way

“I’m going to be a father!”

Had he never noticed how red his grinning brother’s face was? And stretched out all bumpy along the short length of his head. An old road with stones exposed and scars in the asphalt. At fifty, a new father, for the first time. And just three years ago the last divorce. This new one was young, she’d been driving a taxi when he met her, riding from the airport, returning from two years abroad. In two weeks they were spending a lot of time together, and only a month later he moved out of their mother’s house, and moved in with her.

Two pictures came to mind, both of their own father. Him, young, with suspicious eyes and cheeks above his innocent smile. Another, him content, holding on with each arm to the two grandchildren he had known. What kind of father would he have seemed at twenty-two. Does anyone ever know what they are doing?

He couldn’t help smiling back. “This has been a real full year in your life, hasn’t it?”

“Life gets fuller at our age. If you empty yourself out first! And I don’t know how it flows in, at all the cracks.”

That crewcut immobile on the top of his vigorous nodding head. He pushed on the panic bar and opened the security door and as he went downstairs he let onto the floor a short eight year old with malicious-looking teeth and her tongue protruding from between them.