"Flight 273 is now boarding." It's been six months and now I can finally come home from Afghanistan. Home to my wife and home to my two children. Baby Makayla is only eight months old and Stella is in the last few weeks of the first grade. They don't think I'm coming home for another two weeks, but they'll be surprised when I walk through the door.
I board my flight and settle down for the fourteen and a half hour flight. Not too long after we take off I fall asleep. I don't wake up until the last couple hours of the flight. I anxiously await for the plane's descending onto the airport runway. I get off the plane as soon as I can. I'm still in my uniform when I get off, so it doesn't come as a surprise to me when I recieve a lot of thank you's and other things like that. While I'm glad that people care enough to take the time to do this, all I care about right now is getting home to my girls. I get a cab and tell the driver where my address is.
The house still looks the same as it did when I left six months ago. I know that Stella is at school, but the front door is open, telling me that Bella and Makayla are home. Makayla was just barely two months old when I had to leave, so I know that it will be a big thing to see her and how much she has changed since then.
I walk in the front door and shout, "Honey, I'm home."
"Emmett, you aren't going to fool me." I hear and then foot steps coming out of the living room. My brother, Emmett, has been helping Bella out with the kids while I've been gone. That makes me feel a little bit better that I'm not leaving Bella completely on her own with the kids. I hear the foot steps coming closer, then she steps into the kitchen, where I am. She stops and looks at me as if she doesn't believe it's me. Then tears fill her eyes and her hand goes over her mouth. "Edward."
"Hey, Bella. It's me." I hold my arms out.
Bella runs into them, a perfect fit. "Oh my gosh, it's really you."
"Yeah, it is. I'm home." I lean down for a kiss, one that I have been waiting for for six months.
"I thought you weren't supposed to come home for another couple of weeks," she says with tears still in her eyes.
"Surprise." I say. "Where's Makayla?"
"She's in the living room."
Bella and I walk into the living room where I find Makayla sitting up on the floor playing with a few toys. I pick her up as soon as I see her and kiss her cheek. "Hi, baby. You probably don't remember me. I'm your daddy." Makayla looks at me like she knows me from somewhere, but can't figure out where. I know that Bella has pictures around the house and shows them to her so that she can recognize me when I am home. Makayla only giggles and smiles and tries to play with me.
"Does anyone else know that you're home?" Bella asks as we're playing on the floor with Makayla.
"Nope. Just you and her. I wanted to surprise you guys before anyone else. What about Stella? How are we going to surprise her?"
Bella thinks over it for a second. "How about I call the school and tell them what's going on. Then we can go pick her up from school early."
Bella goes into the kitchen to make the phone call while I stay with Makayla. Bella comes back into the living room and says, "Her teacher will be expecting us. Let's get her ready and go."
Bella packs a diaper bag while I change Makayla. I load her up in the carseat and drive to Lincoln Elementary school. We check in at the office and they call Stella's teacher to let him know that we're here. The office secretary escorts us to Mr. Styer's classroom. The secretary peeks in and sees that Mr. Styer is saying something about a special guest that's coming to visit. Then we get a head nod and Bella walks in the room with Makayla. I look at Stella, who hasn't seen me yet, and she looks confused as to why mommy and Makayla would be at school. Bella tells her something and points to the door. Stella looks towards the door and I walk in. A big smile breaks out on her face and she all but runs over to me and jumps into my arms. "Daddy!" she exclaims. "You're here!"
"I came home early and wanted to surprise you."
"I missed you."
"Honey, I missed you, too." I kiss her forhead.
"You aren't supposed to be home for thirteen more days."
"You've been counting down. I'm impressed. But aren't you glad you don't have to wait thirteen days until I come home?"
"Yes. I love you, daddy."
"I love you, too, Stella."