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The time was Now
He always knew this day would come. It was never talked about, but it was always there. Underlining every promise. Weighing down the end of every day.
He always knew this was only temporary. That one day, some day, his father would leave and disappear. Never to be seen again. He'd go to that place that he remembered hearing only vaguely. That place that all the therapists he ever told about said he had created in his mind after the tragic death of his mother. But he knew it was real. He knew a lot of things no one thought he did.
Perhaps it was because he'd been waiting for this day he knew would come, that he wasn't so upset. Sure, his father was the only blood tie he had left. With his mother and grandparents all dead and being an only child, his father was the only link to family he had.
But he could survive without him. He had great friends. People, his age and older, he considered to be siblings with him. As close as family.
He loved his father more than anything in the world. His father was the best there was, in every way. He'd miss him more than anything. But he could let go. He knew he could.
Today was Adam's graduation day. He had turned eighteen over five months ago. He'd be going to college in a few weeks. Straight from highschool to college. His father had made sure he had gotten in to an ivy league school. Made sure his son was as smart as they came. Wanted to make sure his son was capable of surviving by himself.
And he could. His father had trained him well. It was time. He knew it. His father knew it. It was time for his father to leave. To go back to that very real place. To be reunited once again with that person who he had yearned for all these years.
Standing on stage, dressed in a cap and gown, Adam looked out to the crowd at his proud father, sitting front row.
"And now, a word from our valedictorian, Adam Samuelle." The principal announced.
Adam stepped up to the podium. His friends were standing, waving their hands and cheering loudly. But there was only one person who was in his sights. His father.
"Thank you, everyone. Though some of my friends would be shocked, for once, I don't really know what to say. I'm very glad, proud, that I'm standing here today in the spot of honor. I have a great resume. A great life. Great friends. I've had a wonderful time here. Yes, I'm one of those people who actually liked school." He paused for a soft laugh. "My life started out pretty rocky. I struggled a long time with the demons that plagued me. We moved a lot. But it was sorted out. I learned so much in life; as much as I've learned here in books. I owe everything I am and everything I will be to one person. My dad. The greatest guy to ever walk the earth. I'd be nothing without his guidance and his love. He's the most important thing in my life. And even though I'm eighteen, I'm not ashamed to say that. But with that said, I will miss him when he leaves. As he will be doing soon. Taking that trip he's needed to take desperately for years. And thanks to his training, the friends I've met here, and the education I've received that's going to get me in a sweet Harvard dorm room, I know that no matter where life takes me, I'm going to be just fine. And so will all of you. Congratulation, grads!"
A loud cheer abrupted as he was handed his diploma and took a little bow. When he was standing straight again, he found his father looking intensely at him. With that look he knew so well. He was half here, half deep in thought, all intense. It was obvious he was shocked from his son's words. Neither of them had said anything about him leaving. But it was obvious that his father wouldn't leave by himself. He'd never choose the time. Though he may want to leave, he couldn't put himself before his own flesh and blood.
Adam knew this. It's how his father always acted. Putting others before himself, no matter how distant and cold he seemed to be of others. He'd never make a move for himself.
So it was up to Adam to decide when, then give the push in the right direction.
This was the push.
It was time.
After the ceremony was over, the Samuelles met up again to eat. The elder was silent, lost in thought. The younger was too, studying the other.
Finally, Michael dropped his french fry and looked back to his son. "About your speech..."
There was a pause. It was as if he couldn't think of any words to proceed.
Adam took over, as he knew he would. "It's time, Dad. You've stayed with me. Raised me. You've made sure I've had everything. But now I'm grown. It's time to start my adult life. And it's time I started to pay you back for everything you've done for me. You've given me the world. Now I'm trying to give it back."
Silence. A few fries downed. Then his father looked up. "You mean this?"
A smile came across Adam's face. "If you're not out of the house by Friday, I'm changing the locks."
Michael made a soft sound. Almost a laugh, but not quite. Too much like a sigh. He did that often, over the years.
"I know you have unfinished business in that life you gave up. I know someone's waiting for you." A mental image came to his mind's eye. "That blonde woman who took care of me when I was little. The one at the train station. The one that knew Mom. She's waiting. And it's not fair to keep her waiting a day longer than she already has. After all she's done for here."
An eyebrow shifted above the blank stare. "After all she's done?"
Adam bit his lip. He hadn't really meant to let that slip out. "I saw the envelope. Without the return address? It's what the check came in. The one that secured my first year's expenses at Harvard. I knew you couldn't afford such a school on your paycheck. It didn't take me too long to figure out where the money came from."
Michael seemed speechless. "I...I...you're right."
"I know I'm right. I'm right about a lot of stuff. Including you going back. I know you want to. The only thing holding you back is me. I've allowed it for thirteen years. That's long enough. I won't accept it anymore. Sell the house. Or rent it out. The day I leave for Harvard, you leave for Nikita. Or I'll get the money back from school and send it back to her. I don't know where she is...but I'll find a way. I'm not going unless you're going."
His father knew better than to get mad or to argue. Instead, he gave a slight nod, then bowed his head. Thoughts of his previous life floated inside his head.
Finally, he nodded again. "Okay." He agreed.
It was set. Michael would leave for Section One. Adam would leave for Harvard. The plans were final.
It was very probable that there wouldn't be any family reunions. No functions. But it was all part of their lives. Their decisions. It was a part of the way they were destined to live.
But it wasn't goodbye forever. Adam knew his father well enough to know that. He could depend that when he eventually got married, he'd spot his father somewhere in the distance, looking on. Or when he had children, his father would find a way to see his grandchildren.
It didn't matter that Michael had agreed to leave. Nothing, nothing at all, would stop him from making it to those important events. Nothing would stop him. He'd be there, even if they couldn't talk to each other. Or get too close. They'd see each other again.
But for now, he had to leave. To go back to the love of his life. That place that he had yearned for. No, not the place. The woman who operated it. The woman he had spent every night dreaming of her. Every night, visiting her in his mind and memories. And when morning came, he'd calm his aching heart by telling it that it was only a matter of time before they'd be together again.
The time was now.