The Call of a Lifetime (18+)

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The Meeting

Arin

I posted the letter as a homage to my mother's wish, assuming well my father wouldn't revert. But he did.

Mom's journal entries about dad were beautiful and interesting. She was clearly smitten, charmed off my the man. Upon her request to raise me on her own, he respected it without any fight.

Ballooning up with questions to ask, I couldn't believe, he contacted me. Of all the things I wanted to do, the topmost was seeing him. How he looked now. After all, its almost been a a couple of decades since he met me.

Charles conveyed the time and place of meet tomorrow. Waddling through the doubts of moving on so soon, meeting a man who was literally absent while I grew up, it was my mother's journal entries which gave me the solace. It was her decision to push him away.


Eskimoed under layers of quilts, I thought of the day that would be tomorrow. A part of me was thrilled, pounding onto my ribs while the doubtful evil twin of it reared up worst case scenarios about the meeting.

Self doubts and I had a long standing relationship. It was no surprise, it came knocking only a day prior to the biggest day of my life. I slept off, encircled with the thoughts of a perfect father, something which was conjured up watching cheesy rom coms.

I blame Liam Neason for it.

Waking time was always relaxed when one doesn't have to rush to office on time. I dialed Mrs. Rose's number, frolicking in bed and willing to make up an excuse from work.

"Everything okay my dear? You never call this early," said her concerned voice.


"Yes.. I wanted to tell you that I won't be coming to office today. I am taking a sick day." And right on cue, I faked a cough.


"Ohh honey.. what happened?" Her dipped tone reminded me of my mother.

"Nothing worse. Just the usual flu. Don't want to get others sick so.." My bass voice was improvised to make a blocked sinuses voice. Haven't we all done that at some point in our lives.

"You take rest honey and have lots of hot fluids. And soup. I will check on you in the evening. You take care."

Hanging up the phone, I merrily fell back in bed and slept for several more hours.

It was only by mid morning when I woke up, feeling peacefully. A quick shower and dress check later, I was off the door.

My heartbeats paced up as I reached my destination. My cuticles substituted breakfast, most of which were chewed off. The remaining blunt was born by fingernails. I was witnessing what most of us would feel during an exam. The anxiety and frustration, waiting for it to begin just to get it over with.


With Charles the anticipation was killing me. Moment after moment. Crawling from my feet below all the way upto the top of my head, every time a stranger eyed me, my blood hosed up and down, making me jittery.

I was about to call Charles when I witnessed Mrs. Rose's missed call. She must be checking on me. Before I could do anything about it, my phone buzzed up again.

"Hey Kid," a familiar voice came across. "Where are you?"

"Da.. I.. Charles," refraining from being too advance, I looked around. "I am at the coffee shop you asked me to meet."

Like a hummingbird, my heart beat paced up. Although I tried answered calmly, my ears ran up my heightened pulses. My eyes roam around everywhere, scanning the place to spot a man who struck a resemblance to the ones in my mom's journal.

"Yes I can see that," he laughed. My body froze in attention.


"Where are you?"


"Right behind you kid."

Annndd flatline.

I turn around at glacial melting pace, feeling vacuum created in my ears, sucking off every sound around. A man in his early fifty's, salt peppery haired fella smiling at me as he placed his phone back into his pocket.

I pointed at him, questioning. "Charles?"

"Yes. That's me." He widened his hands as an introduction to himself. "And you must be Arin.. Gosh! You have her eyes.." his outstretched hands palmed his mouth.

It took time for me to process that the man whose stories were narrated by mom as an astronaut lost in space, was standing in front of me. Although I never believed my mom's version of dad's whereabouts, the astronaut lost in space was kind of a good one.

Who wouldn't want to have the dad who moonwalked on moon. Yes, that was my mother's innovative description of his. Only now I saw, he was as normal as they came.

"Yes.. I am Arin." I forward my hand as a reflex. His eyebrows furrowed but it took minuscule of a second before his charming smiling emanated.

"You sure have my manners," he chuckled.

I could act dumb at time and this was my prime playground. Nerves brought up by unchartered interactions was my paradise to act rogue and fly off the books.

"Sorry if I was being formal sir." Again, I went with formal. Too formal.

His laughter echoed even in the open, hearing my reference. "You sound just like Florence.. God I miss her."

The misty eyed man who stood near me, pulled at my heart strings. Charles must have only known of mother's demise after receiving her letter. And even though I had waddled through a major part of the mourning period, his was only beginning.

"I too.. God.. I am nervous," drawing a deep breath, I narrated. It was the truth.

"Yes I can see that. Although even I am a wreck." He looked around, pondering. "So how about this, let's get some coffee first and enjoy the sun on this winter day?" My nerves pulsed lower and lower, calming themselves when he resonated on the same level as me. "Lead the way kid.."

I walk ahead into the coffee shop. We placed out orders and waited at the corner.

"So.." He drew a deep breath before nodding at himself. "I am sorry Arin. I am bad at small talks..."

"It's okay.. I can understand.. We can wait."

Not that I was in any kind of hurry.

His lips parted, drawing up. I felt relieved, seeing him fidget around like I was a while back. Then he took his wallet to pay for the orders. That's when I saw her. Mom's photo in his wallet.

Pointing at her smiling snap, I looked at him. It was a moment where silence questioned and answered.

"Ohh yes. It's her." he beamed with pride.

He opened the flap, pulling the picture which was curled around the edged. Mom was beautiful. Breathtaking beautiful.

"She was so pretty." I kept adoring the youthful smile and up in the air jump which was captured in time and now frozen as a memory. "I don't have any photos of her from her younger day."

Charles waved in hands in disapproval. "You do.." He held my shoulders and turned me towards the reflective slab of menu besides the counter. "You are her..."

Charles's words swooshed past my ears, plunging into my heart. Just the comparison had my eyes well up. It was the greatest honor, being compared to a strong and beautiful self made lady. Although towards the end, she lost a lot of weight, her eyes always sparkled with the same enthusiasm when she was alive.

We grabbed our orders and sat in a corner, facing each other.

"You must be having a lot of questions for me.." he continued. I nodded. "Go on. Shoot.. Because I have a ton of them for you too."

Having assumed the worst, this meeting was going really well. Charles handled everything perfectly, from my nervous act to his confession. Everything. Yet, the highlight of today would be him carrying mom's photo in his wallet.

That was something not many men would do. Having a photo on phone was different. Wallet was another level altogether.

"Are you married?" I blurted out. He wrinkled his brows before his usual smile appeared back. "I mean do you have a family?"

"Yes. I am married. And I have a family."

An unknown pang shifted up from the deepest ends of my gut. I assumed with mom's photo, he must be single.

Well who cares. I knew he loved my mom.

"So who all are there in your family?" Pushing away the sour thoughts, I placed my chin over my knuckles, resting them on the table.

"I have my parents and my brother and his kids. One girl and one boy. The boy is adopted."

I continued the rapid fire of questions. "And yours.."

"My wife passed away an year ago. I am left with a daughter." Smile drawn across his face skinned into a thin line.

"I am so sorry to hear that."

"You don't get it do you..?" His laughter rumbled from inside his chest, emanating as vibrations outside.

I really didn't get the reference.

"Wait. What! Are you taking about my mom?" pointing finger back and forth, I stuttered.

"Yes kid.. Who else?"

"But.. But..she never said she was married." My eyebrows shot until my hairline, ready to peel off parts of my forehead with the realization that my mother was married. That I wasn't a bastard.

"Well she was a tough one." Charles leaned closer, eying me as he spoke each word carefully.
"When we came to know she was carrying you, we got a quick register marriage.." he slid back sipping his coffee, while I processed the avalanche of new information.

It was so unfair. Mom cheated on me with the real news about my father. Instead she thought it was better if I had a fantasy to live with some stupid astronaut story.

"My parents came to know and tried to buy her out." Charles's voice was feebler, his face cringed as he narrated the sad saga. "Florence snapped and thought I was part of the deal.." he sighed placing his hands and for whole lot of minutes, remained silent. "I swear I had no clue they were doing this behind my back.."

He looked out of the window, fidgeting with the stirrer in his hand. I waited for him to speak, giving him time to rebalm his own would that were exposed again under my presence. Although it was all new information for me, for Charles, it was reliving the past. The past where his parents betrayed his trust and his wife's.

"So one day I come back from work and she was gone with a letter saying she wanted to make it on her own with you.." Tears welled in his eyes. He groaned and looked up at the ceiling. "She was in New York for a brief period. Then I guess when she had you, she came back an year later."

He placed his hand over mine, composing himself. "Florence contacted me and we met. But by then things became bad again between us, misunderstandings and egos walled up and she finally decided to raise you as her own.."

I didn't know what to say to it. My mouth felt dry at their story. Their suffering. They both had a beautiful love but marred with pain and sadness. "That's sad. I am so sorry Charles."

"Kid," he cleared his throat and sucked up gallons of air, as if the new few world were going to be the heaviest. "Where I come from, kids call their parents dad and mom. Although I wouldn't want to impose upon you but-"

"I would love to call you dad.." Although I was calmly responding, my insides were swirling upside down at the turn of events. But it felt alright when, upon calling him dad, his expressions changed. He rose up, cupping my face and kissing my forehead before falling back in his chair and narrating a long standing apology for an impromptu act.

It was then, where I realized what I missed. My mom used to have bouts of lovey dovey episodes when she would clutch me in her hold and slather me with kisses. Charles seemed no different.

"So what do you do dad?" I tried hard, not to weep at his gestures.

"Well I work most of the time. There are times when I don't work and let my brother do things for me," he chuckled

"Wow yes brother.." I recollected him referring to it earlier.

"So you don't have any sibling?" He asked hesitantly. I knew the apprehension. He wanted to know but hoped that my mom had only him as her partner just like he did.

"No siblings. Me, myself and I are the ones here.."

He bit into his lips as the pink undertones appeared on his cheeks. Tapping on the table like an excited man, he gulped his drink, sighing.

"So tell me more, kiddo. What do you do. Do you study? Do you work? I want to know everything." His voice pitched higher with every word. His eagerness could be heard across the area.

"I am a finance major graduate. Now I am an assistant at Murphy enterprises and in the eveni..." My shoulders shrugged. "That's about it.."

I had a near slip of tongue encounter while narrating.

"Wow. Murphy enterprises. I love that guy, Roger. Although Brandon was a dick, pardon my manners," he held up his hands when speaking about Brandon but his expressions change while stating the rest. "That kid is going places. And he's going to marry Stella.."

Dad's excitement had me think of a million questions. Apparently everyone knew of the Murphy-Oswald merger news, including him.

"You should meet Stella," he spoke in a squeaky tone in which words barely make it out of his mouth. His excitement was hitting the roof.

Nodding my head, I broke the news. "Who? Stella Oswald. I did meet her. Quite rude she was."

Dad nodded his head and finger together, chuckling. "Yes that she is.."

My brows crinkled in confusion. "How do you know her?"

"She is my niece, kid."

All things came to a standstill. The only sound I could hear was my own voice as I clutched the sides of the table, leaning across. "You are The Charles Oswald!"

/


A/N

Hello all you beautiful people..

Did you like this chapter?

Please do Comment and Vote :-) I would love to read your comments and see what you think or what you like the most..

Also, did you check out - The King Killer, a tri-series book I have written on the life of three brothers of Mexican cartel, their lives and their struggles of love and deception.

Trust me, its one binge worth series. Hope you read and let me know..

Happy reading

Love

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