“Fuck!” I half-yelled at Miles and try to release his iron grip on my hand. “You are just meeting your father, you are not delivering a baby that you are crushing my hand.”
Yesterday, Miles texted his father to let him know that he is ready to meet him. His father quickly responded and asked Miles to meet him at the cafe near his old house.
So now we both are sitting in the car, in front of the cafe, as Miles needs some time to gather himself before facing his father.
“I don’t think I want to see him, Natalie.” He sighs and loosens his grip on my hand, for which I am really grateful, as apprehension laces his words.
“Miles you know, I am not good at this comforting talk and all, that is Abby’s department.” I raise my eyebrows at him, “But all I can say is that he is your father, obviously the first few minutes will be awkward as you both will try to make small talk or maybe you will look at anyone but each other then eventually you will start talking.”
“The worst outcome of this meeting might be you slamming the table with your fists in anger or you harshly pushing the chair that it will fall, and walking out of the cafe with a fuming expression and a vow never to meet that man again.” I shrug, listening to this his lips curves into a small smile.
“However, something good can also come out of this meeting. Like you, walking out of the cafe without any burden on your chest and with a slight hope to meet the person who is your father again but with no hatred and anxiousness.” This time I squeeze his hand.
Knowing Miles, it depresses him when he hates someone. He is the kind of person for whom hating someone is not easy. His anger is like boiling water... it boils till the point at it spills but then it cools down.
Even when he is angry with someone he is careful of his words. Just because even in his anger he does not want to say something extremely hurtful to anyone that inflicts pain on their heart.
He is about to say anything but suddenly he swallows hard when his eyes catch something.
Turning to look in the direction of his sight, I also notice why his expression has changed.
Walking inside the cafe is a person who looks older version of Miles with grey sideburns. He is wearing simple khaki pants and a blue button-down shirt as his specs covering his eyes.
When I turn to look at Miles, he is sitting completely still as his eyes are fixed on his father who is not aware of his son’s gaze.
There is a strain in Miles’s jaws as his grip on my hand shifting. Sometimes he clenches it tightly and the very next moment he loosens only to hold it tightly again.
I watch him as he closes his eyes for a moment and takes a deep breath preparing himself to walk out of the car to meet his father.
He glances at me, vulnerability clear in his eyes, and he gives me a small nod silently telling me he is ready to meet him.
Holding his hand, I pull him in a hug trying to provide him some comfort.
“It is going to be fine.” Turning my head slightly to his neck I place a small kiss while I rub his back gently. “I will be there with you and any moment if you want to get out of there, then just say the word I will drag your ass out of this place.”
He lets out a weak chuckle and holds me for a little longer as if trying to seek strength from me.
“Let’s get over with this.” He releases out a quick breath while pulling back and nods his head as we both step outside the car and walk towards the cafe.
The tension is thick in the air as we all sit in the corner of the cafe with less crowd.
Joseph, Miles’s father, was surprised to see me. Maybe he was expecting a private meeting with his son.
When he subtly tries to give me a look which says that he wants to have a word with Miles without any audience. Staring at him for a moment, I turn my attention back on the menu.
No way, sir! I am not leaving my Miley alone, especially when I know he needs me to be here with him.
Both of them not saying anything to each other, just staring at the table in front of us just as I predicted.
Miles looks like he is trying to restrain his anger, while Joseph’s face tells, he doesn’t know how to talk to his own son.
“One of the happiest days of my life was when you were born.” Joseph sighs, “I felt like I have got my entire world in my arms when I was holding you.”
Miles does not respond to him, however, I notice he is trying hard to stay calm. Discreetly, placing my hand on his knee I give it a reassuring squeeze. Instantly, he holds my hand and interlocking our fingers he places on his lap.
“However, when I held Katie I felt at peace.” Joseph swallows as moisture in his eyes become visible, “She was so small... so delicate.” He holds his hand in front of him as if he is imagining her in his hands.
“So beautiful...” He whispers with a rueful smile as a tear rolls down his cheek.
Miles takes a sharp intake of breath while blinking his eyes to keep them dry.
“I was her hero, I was supposed to keep her away from every pain.” His shoulders shake as tears flow from his eyes, “But I failed... I could not save my Katie. She was suffering and I could not do anything.”
“You were not there when I needed you.” First time since we came here Miles speaks.
“You were not there for me when I needed my father to place his hand on my shoulder and tell me you are not alone and everything will be fine.” He swallows harshly as he glares at Joseph.
I know he is referring to the time when his mother died.
“The pain of losing my child was unbearable for me, I was drowning in pain so I found my escape in the bottle of alcohol.” Joseph looks at Miles with guilt-filled eyes while regret etched on his face.
“Don’t you dare pretend that only you were affected by Katie’s death.” Miles’s voice comes out harsh, “We all loved her... still love her. But you abandoned me and mom when we could have together as a family dealt with our pain.”
“Watching your child die is not easy to deal with,” Joseph shakes his head and replies in a sharp tone.
“And watching your other child living his life like an orphan when you were alive was easy for you?” Miles glares at him accusingly in an equally sharp tone.
“I needed you when my sister’s soul left her body when I was holding her hand, I needed you when mom’s body was lowered in the ground...” Tears slip from his eyes and he seems completely unbothered by them as he stares at his father. “I needed my dad... but you were not there.”
This talk seems so personal that I don’t want to witness. However, Miles’s hand in mine says that he needs me to be there for him.
Joesph looks like he is at loss of words.
“What do you want from me?” Miles wipes his face while running his hand over his face.
“I just want my son back.” Joseph sad eyes, longingly look at Miles.
“I forgive for what you did because being a father I can understand it kills you to see your child in pain.” Taking a deep breath Miles composes himself as he runs circles with his thumb on the back of my hand as he is trying to distract himself from his true feelings.
“You have a son?” Joseph’s lips slightly tilt up in a smile.
“However, being a father I have also realized that your love for your child is your strength which pushes you to become a better person.” Ignoring his question Miles continues.
Miles’s words remove the smile from his face.
“You can’t blame Katie’s death for everything wrong which you had done. It was your choice to find your escape in alcohol instead of finding support in your family. You left us when we were there for you.”
“So, I can’t give you what you want from me. Just think that your son also died with your daughter.” Miles looks straight into his tears filled eyes, “Because you have lost your son a long time ago.”
“However, I wish that this time losing your child will push you to become a better person.” Miles looks at Joesph as if he is memorizing his face.
Then he stands up and automatically I mirror his action.
“Goodbye, dad.” He swallows while his own eyes flooding with unshed tears.
Holding my hand, he starts walking as I silently follow him.
I can’t help but feel pity for this broken man who is now paying for his mistakes, as I glance back to find him crying while looking at the retreating figure of his son.