Welcome home, Sam

ellina HOPE

Dedicated to Jill, for keeping my secrets, and understanding how much risk is involved.

Disclaimer: I own only their daughter, but not the idea. Sounds a little creepy, doesn't it? (Imagine their kid as a not-so-neurotic Dakota Fanning)

OoO

Two eager faces peer out the window of the apartment complex on the corner of that quiet Washington street. One smiles up at the other and grabs her hand with a childish smile. The second returns the smile, and hugs the first.

The younger, smaller face belongs to a girl of about five years. She stares openly at the sidewalk, watching and waiting for someone. Her hair is long and blonde, braided into two even braids that curl at the tips. Her brown eyes (so curious and innocent) squint as she laughs. The other, presumably her mother, kisses the top of her daughter's head as they wait. Although you can't tell it, she is just as excited (if not more so) as her daughter.

Finally, after what seems like ages to both females, a rather short figure with a top hat and cane waltzes up the sidewalk. It is obvious that this vertically challenged Father-Husband is the source of emotional chattering in the apartment. Both pairs of eyes light up at the welcoming sight, though the Mother-Wife tries to act more reserved and calm about it.

You seem him everyday, she tells herself. Watching him like this is a little silly, isn't it? The littler girl jumps out of her mother's lap, squealing. When she sees her daughter's joy, she stops the argument, which is even sillier than what she originally thought was silly.

"Daddy's home! Look, it's Daddy! Oh, Mommy, can I go out and meet him, Mommy? Can I?" The little girl looks at her mother expectantly, bouncing from impatience. "Please Mommy?"

"Go on Ruthie, and tell him we're having grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner." The child, Ruthie, runs out of the apartment. Her footfalls echo loudly in the hall and stairwells as she goes. Her mother smiles as she watches her husband hug their daughter. She laughs at his expression when he learns of their choice for dinner.

Ruthie giggles when he drops his old, worn hat on her head. She lifts the brim, and peeks at her father with sparkling eyes. He bends down to her level, and she clamors onto his back and shoulders, grinning. He pretends to choke as she wraps her harmless, childishly small arms around his neck.

Her mother turns away from the window and pretends to clean some paint brushes, so he won't know she was waiting for him. But, he knows anyway. He always does. When she finds that there are no brushes to be cleaned, she works on folding up the ironing board, and washing the iron with a sponge. She feels very accomplished to know she did such a rewarding task in only a few minutes.

She opens the cabinets above the sink, finding three glasses and three plates. She fills the glasses half-way with milk. There's always a slight fear in the back of her mind that Ruthie isn't getting enough calcium. There're a lot of fears like that, but the combined effort of her husband and daughter soothing her, the fears are disappearing. As she puts the last plate on the table, the door opens quietly. Ruthie's childish chatter fills the air of the once peaceful kitchen.

"Why don't you go wash your hands, little one?" The little girl jumps off her father's back at her mother's kind request, and holds the faded hat to her head as she races to the bathroom. The two parents look at each other, silently.

He opens his arms.

She steps forward, smiling.

He hugs her gently, kissing her hair.

"Hello, Joon."

His shoulder muffles Joon's response, but clear all the same.

"Welcome home, Sam."

Ruthie grins at her parents from around the corner, as they rock back and forth in their innocently intimate embrace. She wonders if she'll be as lucky as her mother in finding happiness. Theirs is a fairytale; she's heard the story.

When they come over for dinner, Aunt Ruthie and Uncle Benny make it a point to tell a little of it. Well, it's mainly Aunt Ruthie and Mommy who tell the story. Uncle Benny and Daddy sit almost awkwardly on the couch. But there is nothing awkward about her father now, as he holds his wife (and her mother) close and softly.

She can hear her mother whisper again. "Welcome home, Sam."