"Yayyy! Let's go Mommy! Let's go!" She excitedly chirped, making me softly laugh at her adorable antics.
"Okay, okay." I replied just as enthusiastically even as an uncontrollable smile laced my lips.
I cut off the engine before jumping out of the car, immediately squinting my eyes at the sharp rays of light that threatened to blind me. Atleast I have some sunglasses in my bag.
I first opened the trunk and pulled my sunglasses out and a hundred bucks bill before closing my bag then the trunk. I opened the backseat door to the highly excited child as she bounced in her seat. I first reached out for our picnic basket and hung it onto my arm before helping the excited girl out of her carseat.
"Emma, always play close to where I can see you, alright?" I sternly told the excited child, hoping that she was listening.
She excitedly nodded her head, making me doubt her concentration.
"Emina, I'm serious. Play close to where Mommy can see you." I repeated, even more sternly if that's possible.
"I will Mommy. I promise." She grinned," Can we go now?"
I sighed as I closed the door and locked the car, taking her small hand and securely clutching it to mine. When we were close to the playground, I let go of her hand.
"Be careful and remember to..." I sternly looked at her all too familiar hazel eyes, waiting for her to complete the sentence to see if she was even listening to me a couple of minutes ago.
"Play where you can see me." She repeated my words.
"Good girl." I praised with a smile," Now go along."
Without a waste of time, she ran to the monkey bars.
I sighed, before scanning the park for a close shady place to sit. Unfortunately, there were few trees and all those were far from the playground, so I was stuck to sit on the park benches, atleast they had shelter from the sun though.
I was about to walk towards one of the empty benches, just to spot a bench with a man with his face dug in his hands. His hands were dug deep into his hair brunette, curly locks. His body seemed to be raising in patterns, like the after effects of crying.
Before I could even register my movement, I was headed towards his direction. I don't know why, but my body willed me to go to him even as I tried to fight it.
Before I knew it, my sandals were standing opposite a pair of black and white Levi's. He seemed to be ignoring my presence or he genuinely was too deep in thought to notice it.
"Hello Sir," I softly said, before I could even think." Are you alright?"
I didn't know what's possessing me to do this but I don't like it. A part of me howerever, seems to be genuinely concerned. Maybe it's the mother's instincts in me, I don't know.
He looked up at me and at that moment, my world seemed to stop. My heart skipped a beat and my palms started sweating up a storm. A gasp nearly escaped my lips, but luckily it didn't.
His eyes seemed to dig deep into mine, an emerald green shining like jewels, but somehow seemed void like the dark. His eyelashes so long and full, making it seem like they brushed his cheekbones when he blinked. His eyebrows perfectly arched and full. His nose straight but not long. His lips plump and full, even in their dryness. His cheeks flushed from crying, but not taking away an ounce of his beauty. He looked so angelic, that I doubted his existence. Wait what?
"I'm okay, thanks for asking." He weakly smiled but I could easily read through his lie.
"Are you sure?" I asked with a smile that I had no doubt showed my concern.
He dodged my eyes and instead looked at the green trees in the distance. My heart dropped at his plain rejection. So I guess he'll just ignore me. I was about to leave, when he's soft, weak voice suddenly spoke.
"Do I know you from somewhere?" He asked, looking up at me.
My heart skipped a beat as dread settled in. I perked up and immediately answered," No. Atleast I don't think so."
He sighed as he relaxed back into the chair, closing his eyes before opening them up and looking up at me," I'm grateful for your concern Ma'am, but I'm alright. You can enjoy your day, please don't concern yourself with the likes of me." He said with his rough, hoarse voice. He must have been crying for a while.
"I don't think so. Anything that's enough to make one cry is never something miniscule." I stubbornly said," Look, I know you probably want me out of your hair, but I just can't leave. I myself don't know why I'm here meddling in your business instead of minding mine, but here I am. I want to help, even if I will be used as a shoulder to cry on or a listener to vent out to." I weakly said.
His emerald orbs never wavering from mine, except when he closed them and ran his hand through his hair before patting the vacant seat next to him.
"I just divorced my wife of five years and she took everything away from me." He began, making my heart melt in sympathy." She was a stay at home wife, and had no form of employment as far as I was concerned. A couple of months ago the cops knocked at our front door and luckily I was the one to get the door. They were looking for my wife." He paused, never turning to look at me but instead the trees in the distance.
"Turned out she was involved in fraudulent activities. I of course defended her, but no, she admitted that it was true, I was broken but most importantly in denial. My sweet wife involved in crime, never. The next thing I know, all my things are being repossessed to pay back for her crimes. I was drained to the last cent, then you know what happened?" He tearfully snickered," She filed for divorce and told me that she never loved me. Leaving me without a second glance. Basically leaving me for dead, leaving me to fend for myself. As soon as the word got out about my wife, I lost my job. The place I had slaved away for the past 8 years. I lost it like I just got it yesterday. And that's my story."
That story left me out of breath. I was left in bewilderment, in disbelief and mostly in sympathy and sorrow for this broken man.
"I did everything for her, from working until late just so we could get the best to paying for anything she wanted without question, just to find out that I was just a porn in her game. A backup plan." He whispered, his voice cracking and getting less audible with every word.
I had him in my arms in an instant as sobs racked his body. Sobs full of sorrow, loss and undeniable heartbreak. He must have cared for her a great deal...what am I saying, the poor man loved her with all his heart.
"Aren't you going to ask what she did?" He hicupped, his voice sounding so vulnerable, like a child who had lost all hope.
"You can tell me if you want to, but you're not at all obligated to do so. I mean, you even telling me this is not easy on you, so why would I want to cause you any more pain?" I softly asked.
"She scammed companies. She was apart of a group of scammers." He whispered inbetween hiccups.
I clamped my mouth together, and just let silence fill our space, but it was not at all uncomfortable.
That's when a thought popped into my head.
"You said you home was repossessed right?" I softly asked, trying not to pour too much salt on the still very raw wound.
"Yes, I don't have a home." He weakly, but sleepily answered. The crying definitely took a toll on him.
"Would you like to live with me until you get back on your feet?" I offered, surprising not only him but also myself.
"Wait, What!" He exclaimed in surprise, jumping out of my arms until her was at arm's length.
"Yeah." I awkwardly answered.
"Are you insane!" He exclaimed, his eyes threatening to pop out of his eyeballs at this rate.
"You know what, goodbye Sir." I said, reaching out for my picnic basket next to me.
"Wait. The thing is, I don't want to be a burden to you." He softly admitted, his hand running through his hair.
"Trust me, you won't. Besides, I'm offering, you didn't ask. Just please let me do this, I won't live with myself otherwise." I admitted.
"O-okay, if you're sure. Thank you. Thank you so much, you don't know how much this means to me. I promise I won't bother you at all, instead I'll earn my stay." He stuttered as tears of relief gathered into his eyes as he sincerely smiled at me with nothing but gratitude and relief.
I smiled and opened my mouth to reply when Emma's voice yelled in my direction.
"Mommy!" Her cheerful voice called before she appeared in front of me." I am thirsty. Can I please have some water?"
"Umm Sweetheart. Aren't you going to greet... Umm." I paused, realising that I have yet to ask for his name.
"London," He answered, smiling at Emma who shyly smiled back at him," And what's yours?"
Emma looked at me, seeking permission, which I granted with a nod and a smile of encouragement.
"Emani, but everyone calls me Emma." She enthusiastically chirped.
"Wow, your Mommy gave you such a beautiful name, Emma." He softly smiled at her, a sparkle that wasn't there earlier appearing in his eyes. It was barely bright enough to see, but upon deep inspection, could be seen.
It filled his eyes with a bit of life. Mr London likes children.
"Mommy, can I have some water, please?" She repeated, bringing me out of my train of thought.
"Sure Baby." I smiled, leaning down towards the picnic basket, opening it and pulling out a cool, bottle of water.
She struggled with the lid for a couple of seconds before handing the bottle back to me. I unscrewed the lid for her before giving it back to her. She immediately gulped the water down like she had not drank some in a long time.
She sighed in content before screwing it back on and handing the bottle back to me.
"Thank you." She cheerfully chirped, before turning to London," It was nice to meet you, Sir." With that she shot back to the playground.
"Would you like a bottle of water?" I offered.
He nervously chuckled, but gave a nod,"Yes, please."
I pulled another bottle out and handed it to him.
He shot me a smile of gratitude before taking the water from my hands. He drowned it immediately after opening it, leaving me to feel sympathy for him.
He seemed to feel my eyes because he nervously evaded my eyes before saying," I haven't had water the whole day." He softly said.
Then he most certainly hasn't had any food either.
"Would you like some fruits to nibble on until we get home, then I can have someone prepare some lunch for you." I offered.
"No thanks, I'll just wait. It's alright, thanks for the offer though." He said, avoiding accepting my offer.
I chuckled and shook my head before pulling out a packet of grapes from the basket. I'm sure Emma won't mind sharing.
"Here, please have some." I offered with an encouraging smile.
"No, I couldn't. You've basically done so much for me already that I couldn't bother you any further." He declined.
I sighed, before standing up from the bench and walking a couple of steps towards the playground.
"Emma!" I called my daughter from the swings.
She turned to me with a smile and swung off the slide before running in my direction.
"Yes Mommy?" She replied.
"Baby, can we go home? We'll come back to the park some other time and I'll ask Blake to buy you a carton of ice-cream later to make up for it." I offered.
Disappointment clearly showed from her eyes but she smiled and nodded.
"Okay Mommy." She answered.
"Thanks Baby. Come on, we're gonna have a guest for a while." I informed.
"A guest? Who?" She asked, cocking her head questioningly.
"Mr London, Darling." I replied.
"Oh, but isn't he a stranger?" She asked with a raised eyebrow, obviously accusing me of inviting a stranger to our home.
"No," I lied through my teeth," He and I used to go to school together."
Her mouth turned into an 'o' in understanding, before she answered,"Okay." Before humming happily to herself.
We stopped at the bench where London stood, looking up at us as we neared in curiousity.
"Ready to go?" I asked, leaning down and grabbing the basket, hanging it on my arm.
He looked at me in disbelief but followed behind us as we lead the way to the car, with Emma talking my ear off.
I hope Carlos's clothes will fit him.