lukewarm regret

Lukewarm

Cecilia stepped off the airplane and mindlessly followed the stream of travelers. The delay of her previous flight had given her more time to prepare for the inevitable family reunion, and thinking about it made her throat tight and suffocating. As she waited in line to pass through Passport Control, the last phone call with her dad resurfaced and repeated, echoing between her ears in earnest.

“Lia, baby, tell ya what, I’ll make your favorite pie and we can go for our morning walks like we used to if you just come home next month in August. I’ll even buy your ticket home. Don’t say anything yet, just think about it.”

She remembered the boyish pleading in his voice, combined with his uncanny knack for making her feel guilty. Unsuccessfully, she had tried to cut him off between each word, but his voice never faltered, and overpowered her own. The knot in her chest strained at the thought of her father’s incessant persistence. He had been calling so much lately, and it had resulted in her ignoring her phone for days at a time.

The officer waved her up next, and she fumbled with her passport in her hands before handing it over to him. His friendliness unsettled her, as he casually asked questions about her stay. He flipped through her passport, and stopped to look at her picture, then peered at her for an uncomfortable amount of time in silence. She was sure he was comparing the 2D version of herself with the dismayed person standing in front of him. For a moment, she forgot the jumbled mess in her head, and became impatient, unintentionally letting slip the annoyance in her voice of being stared at, “It’s me, I promise.”

His lopsided smile spread on the right side of his face lazily, “Welcome home then, Cecilia.” She couldn’t tell if she was being paranoid, but she thought she heard a hint of haughty sarcasm in his tone. Before she could respond, the officer had already motioned for the next person in line.

Her left hand gripped the handle of her luggage, as she followed the exit signs and passed through the doors beckoning her home. Her breathing was shallow, and her eyes darted around the area. She looked around nervously for whosever familiar face from her family was designated to pick her up.

She nearly jumped from the touch on her shoulder, and cringed from the unknown physical contact. Swiftly, she turned around and faced the person behind her.

Her defenses immediately dropped, and she found herself in the arms of her mother. The seasons of silence between them vanished, and a feeling of comfort warmed her shaking frame of a body. It surprised her how natural this felt. Cecilia’s banishment by her mother had been the reason for her long period of absence. However, if she was being truly honest with herself, it was her own lack of courage that had kept her distant. Neither of the two had ever quite figured out how to apologize to each other.

But with her father’s recent and untimely passing, Cecilia decided it was time to try.

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