"How are you doing?"
She looked at him, summing him up in her quiet way. He couldn't decide whether or not he hoped she could see right through him tonight.
She looked back at the party.
"Funny, there I was, thinking this was it, finally. I was being given everything I had wanted for so long – my name, my record was clear. Freedom, no looking over my shoulder, no need to run."
She fell silent.
"You tell me."
He turned his back towards the others, facing in the opposite direction to her, but able to keep her in his peripheral vision.
"It's everything you ever dreamed of."
"But somehow it's empty. It doesn't mean what you thought it did."
She looked up at him quizzically.
"You can stop running, nothing more to run away from." He paused, took a breath, and continued evenly, "Nothing to run to either. Seems to me you need someone to stand with you, to face forwards together. Seems to me you know who she is, and all you need now, is to get the courage to ask her if she has room in her life for another gifted child, even if he is over 30."
She turned and leaned against the table next to him, their shoulders touching.
Carl looked at Mother, confusion written clear on his face.
"So, did you understand any of that?"
Just a short story to get me back into the swing of writing again, hopefully.