cracked

pg | no warnings apply

"I didn't expect it to be like this."

His hands, raw and weathered. A fisherman's hands, or your stepfather's hands. Wrinkled flesh, hills and valleys of dry skin, a river of gold still wrapped around one finger. Grey hair, almost white, almost hardly even there. Dead eyes, hollow gaze. Frail, almost skeletal, with a pronounced curve to his back.

(Suddenly, you felt guilty for every time you were mistaken for Anna's mother.)

"So you've thought about this? Us meeting after all these years?"

His voice was shockingly strong, and you almost glanced around to see where the ventriloquist was.

"From time to time."

(Liar.)

He gestured, with one slightly trembling hand, to a nearby bench. You hesitated, because the snow was starting flutter around you, because the wind was whipping your still-mostly blonde hair into your face, because your husband was waiting for you, and he got worried easily.

"Sure," you said. "Just for a few minutes."

Your thin coat did a shitty job of insulating your body, barely protecting you from the nearly freezing concrete. His hand landed on yours; the sensation was foreign, uncomfortable.

"Last minute shopping?" he asked, even though it was obvious from the brightly colored bags that you rested at your feet.

"Yeah. My grandkids."

He made a small scoffing sound, as if he couldn't believe you were old enough to have grandkids.

(You couldn't believe you were old enough to have grandkids.)

He asked, and you showed him: a small picture of Anna and Matthew, sitting on the laps of your daughter and son-in-law.

"Megan takes after her father," he commented, a touch of resentment in his tone, and you're not sure why he said that.

(Especially since it's not true.)

"How are Hanna and Kate?" And he gave you this small surprised look, as if he hadn't expected you to remember their names. All he offered you was that they were married; you didn't pry further.

"I should get home," you said, and it was hardly even a whisper, because suddenly you felt like crying.

"It was nice to see you again."

He didn't sound sincere, just as cold as the wind that was turning your fingers into icicles, and you couldn't stop the tear that escaped.

(It seemed to freeze on your cheek. It burned.)

(fin.)