Casi tapped her foot anxiously. Two hours had gone by. One hundred twenty minutes she could never get back. It was just like all the birthdays and Christmases he had missed. They were gone unceremoniously and unappreciated. And now the train station was practically deserted. She scoffed. This wasn't her first time and it probably wouldn't be her last.
She rubbed her hands together wishing she'd brought gloves. She tugged at the too small cap she wore. The only thing he'd ever sent her. It was seven years old; she'd been seven when she got it.
Her aunt had called her in from the backyard, and she'd come running... tore open the brown papered package. A pink and white striped knit cap with a huge pom pom on the top of it. It had been the loveliest thing she'd ever seen. And it was all hers. The only thing he'd ever given her, the only connection she had.
She'd worn it for years. Knowing that the very first time she saw him, she'd be wearing it. So here she sat, looking ridiculous with a child's cap on her head. It was just seven years later than she'd thought it would be.
She looked at her watch. It was almost six. The last train would be coming in from the city. She felt her heart slow and her throat went dry. He wasn't coming. Again.
She swallowed hard and searched in her bag for a throat lozenge. She took one out of it's cellophane wrapping and held the sticky square in her hand. Honey-lemon. Her aunt knew she hated those. The cherry ones, those was her favorite.
“Casi?” A man's voice interrupted her inner conversation.
She was afraid to look up. Was it him? Had he come after all? Would she even recognize him? She stared down at the lozenge another few seconds... the man didn't speak again.
Her heart raced inside her chest and slowly she raised her gaze to meet his.
An old man in a rumpled brown suit stood in front of her, motionless; an envelope in his outstretched hand.
She let out a sigh of relief and contempt as she snatched the envelope from his hand. Bitter tears streamed down her cheeks as she glared at him.
“What do you want old man? A tip?” She barked it at him, the hurt and rage building inside her.
Then she noticed his hands; they were shaking, uncontrollably. Oh dear god, the old man was gonna have some sort of seizure right in front of her.
“I'm sorry... I'm so so sorry.” She shoved the envelope in her purse & dropped the lozenge.
The old man watched as the lozenge hit the dirty tile floor and he laughed.
“Honey-lemon? I always hated those. The cherry ones are my favorite.”
Casi froze. Something inside her recognized that laugh. It was warm and familiar and just like her own.
She didn't dare look up again; and her voice cracked when she spoke.
“Daddy?” It was a whisper.
The old man sat down next to her on the metal bench and touched the side of her face.
“Nice hat. Maybe we can find one that fits you better now.”
For the first time in her life, Casi cried tears of joy.
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