He’d been waiting for twenty two years, five months, thirteen days and fours hours. She left in the early hours of Christmas morning before he’d woken, the presents and the child in hand, and was never seen again. He knew the day would come, if he simply let time run its course. This is the way the universe operates; it taketh away, it giveth back, in its own time. He could have pushed the issue, he could have searched, but then it would be forced and awkward and he’d have to admit some level of culpability. He knew that with enough patience, everything would resolve itself. And so he waited.
Twenty two years, five months, thirteen days and four hours isn’t a lot of time in the grand scheme of things. He kept himself busy with his guitars, his career and Star Trek reruns – the trappings of his average life. His hair had turned gray and flat, but the orange hair he’d carried his whole life sat harshly against his pasty, Irish complexion anyway. Perhaps the gray would soften his features enough to make their reunion less intimidating. And so he aged, and waited.
For twenty two years, five months, thirteen days and fours hours he reminded himself that she had taken him away, that it wasn’t his responsibility, that the best thing he could do was wait for his son to find him when he was ready to. He understood that children grow into men, and that men are capable of choosing, and that his son would find him when he was ready to. And so he rationalized, and waited.
Twenty two years, five months, thirteen days and fours hours later, his telephone rang. He answered the call, from a number he didn’t recognize, and waited. The voice on the other end of the line choked and sputtered, and the man grew restless. He bellowed into the phone demands to know who was calling, answered only by raspy gurgles. Twenty two years, five months, thirteen days and four hours later, he grew tired of waiting for things and slammed the phone down onto the receiver.
Twenty two years, five months, thirteen days, four hours and one minute later, his son released his final breath into the empty end of a telephone. And the man kept waiting.