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Home at Last
by Ken Waugh


She had wanted to see him off, but he had put his foot down.

'No, no,' he had objected vehemently. 'The bus stop's just around the corner. You can watch me go from the window.'

Although it hurt her more than she would admit even to herself, she knew she had to respect his wishes. So that fateful morning, she packed his bag and kissed him goodbye. She had watched him through the window as he marched along the street. There was a jaunty self-confident air about him as he walked with his cap set at a rakish angle and his bag slung across his back. Reaching the corner, he turned once, gave a wave of his arm and was gone.

What did that wave mean? She asked herself. 'Was she losing him, or had she already lost him? Her mind was filled with doubts. Would things ever be the same again between them? Would all those happy years they had shared become just a memory? She had to stop those morbid thoughts. She knew life would be different the moment he left and she would need to find something to occupy her time.

True, she still had the house to keep clean, shopping to do, and meals to prepare, but it wouldn't be the same without him there, getting under her feet.

The time dragged on by since she had last seen him but soon he would be coming back. It had been cold, damp and miserable, when he had left that morning, now the sun was shining, the birds were singing and the scent of flowers pervaded the air. The weather seems to be in tune with my moods, she thought, as she admired the flowers in the small front garden. Try as she might she could not disguise the fact that she was really looking out for his return. Not long now, she thought, looking at her watch for the umpteenth time. She had prepared a special meal for him, one of his favourites. Now it was all ready and the table laid. Time dragged as impatiently she kept looking out of the window.

A host of chattering school children turned the corner and walking along the street, passed out of her sight. Suddenly she saw him, a lone figure walking along the street towards the house. But there seemed to be something different about him. Gone was the jaunty air, his cap sat squarely on his head and his face had a quiet thoughtful look that she had never seen before. She wanted to rush to the door and fling it wide open, but she restrained herself and waited for the ring on the doorbell.

She opened the door warily, not knowing what reception to give or expect. She need not have worried. Once inside the house he flung himself into her arms.

'I like school, Mam, but oh, how I missed you.'

'Never mind, she replied, a little more brusquely than she intended. 'You will soon make friends at school and then you won't miss me at all.'

'Pr'aps Mam, but I will always love you and you will always be my best friend.'

Nevertheless, as she served the meal, a tear glistened in her eye. Her baby son had left that morning for his first day at school. A five-year old school boy had returned.



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