Arthur looked at Danny’s picture on the mantle.
He was sitting on a park bench talking to a ‘stranger’.
That stranger was Arthur himself, and he remembered that day as if it were yesterday.
He had taken such a chance all those months ago, not knowing what kind of reaction or reception he would receive, or wanting to frighten the child or his mother.
He had discovered his daughter had married and had a son, and surprisingly lived not far from him.
He hadn’t seen her for over twenty years, as after he and his wife divorced, he agreed to fade out of their lives.
Every day, he had gone to the park in the hope that perhaps he would see them.
He had no idea what he would do if he did, how he could approach them and introduce himself.
As things turned out though, she found him first, turning up one afternoon on his doorstep when Danny started school.
‘Hello Dad, ‘ she said.
Arthur didn’t know what to say, and simply stepped aside so that she could come in if she wished.
‘Um, would you like some tea?’
‘That would be nice. Thank you.’
Boiling the kettle and setting out biscuits on one of his better plates gave him a chance to regroup and gather his wits.
Anna was smiling when he came in with the tea things.
‘It’s been a long time, ‘ she said.
‘Yes. It has. I promised not to interfere when your Mum and I split up. I knew I wasn’t good for you, and you were so much better off with her.’
‘I’ve seen you in the park you know,’ she said.
‘Don’t worry. It didn’t bother me, in fact I wasn’t sure at first if it was you, but I asked around, and well, here I am. I hope you don’t mind?’
‘Not at all. Er, I’m somewhat at a loss what to do next to be honest. This is such an unexpected surprise.’
‘It’s Danny actually. He’s seen you in the park too, and has been asking questions about why people are sad. He’s a very intuitive little boy for his age, and his curiosity tends to get the better of him sometimes. I was wondering if you intended to approach us, and what with all the Stranger Danger stuff the kids are being taught in school, I thought it best if I broke the ice without little eyes or ears to get confused or interrupt.’
Arthur wrung his hands as he contemplated the patch of threadbare carpet directly in his line of vision.
‘I didn’t know how,’ he began. ‘But I’m so glad you’re here. There’s so much to say, so much to catch up on, so many questions to ask, but I feel I haven’t the right.’
‘Danny didn’t know his grandparents, Mum died the week after he was born, and Jeff’s an orphan, so for him to have the chance to get to know his Grandad would be so cool for him. I have a plan, and I think it would work if you’d like to play along. Just meet us in the park on Saturday, and Danny will do the rest.’
And so Arthur did, and never looked back.
Anna had taken the snapshot after Danny had come up to him in the park that day to say hello.
Arthur had thanked God for being given this second chance, not just with his daughter, but to have Danny too.