I sat on my front porch, eyes closed, breathing in the fresh spring air and admiring all the new smells. Spring was my favorite time of year. It was a time for rebirth, to be brought to life after the harsh season of winter.
Many years ago, when I was but a young teen, I loved to trick my friends.
Until I met her.
She was perfect. Her olive brown skin and black, ringlet hair with a small smile pasted across her face. I knew, right from the moment I saw her, that she was the one.
I told my friends I was going, that I would be right back. But I never fully returned to them that eventful night. Half my heart was left with her. The one with the delicate features and eyes full of compassion.
Finally, after long year's of work and stress, our life began together.
She would work all day at the house, washing the dishes and laundry, preparing for me to come home from work.
When I did, I was always tired, bags under my eyes. But as I opened the door and saw her beaming, I immediately brightened up.
Two years passed and a new arrival came. His name was Joseph. His bright eyes just like his mother’s and small smile just like mine.
Five years later, she could hardly speak. I lay on the edge of the bed, barely staying conscious, when she left me. I woke up to find her with her eyes closed, her skin cold and lifeless.
I mourned her for year's. Pushing Joseph away from me, pushing everything good and happy away. She was all I wanted. All I ever wanted to be by my side forever, quietly humming while she sewed in her rocking chair and I read the newspaper.
She was gone though, and as the years came and went, Joseph left me. I never knew how much he meant to me until he left. That one day when I woke up to the cold realization that he was gone, just as she had left me.
Thirty years later, I still remained secluded from the world. Every morning, I did the exact same thing, sipping my coffee with a blank expression towards an empty wall. The table was still set for all three of us. I just didn't want to get out of the habit. It would hurt me more if I did.
Today was April First, and I knew the kids would come and trick me, just as I used to do with my friends. They would come and take the items they could find on the outside of my house, only to return it when their parents found out. Most times, I would scorn the kids and tell them to leave me in peace to mourn.
But today was different.
I was different.
I had grown tired of the loneliness that filled my heart, and I wanted to gain something back that had been lost to me years ago. This year, as I turned the thought over and over in my head, I would make a change.
When I heard the first knock on my door, I smiled and got up, slower than when I used to, and opened the door. A young boy stood in front of me. I had expected him to look guilty, as they did every year, or to at least have something of mine to give back.
But the boy simply stood there, staring up at me with a look of curiosity. I raised my eyebrows.
“Yes?” I asked with a small frown.
The boy blinked and then cleared his throat.
“Good morning sir. I was wondering if you'd like to buy something from my catalog.” The boy said, shoving something into my hands.
“Its a fundraiser for my school.” The boy stated.
I glanced down at the magazine, not moving it. I looked back up.
“I'll think about it.”
The boy's eyes looked down, and I suddenly felt sorry for him.
“You know what, come back by this afternoon and I’ll find something I like.” I said suddenly, making the boy look up bewildered.
“No, you don't have t-” I held up my hand and he stopped.
“It's my pleasure.”
The rest of the day, I sat on my front porch and watched kids pass down the street with their friends, sending my house sly looks.
I simply smiled and gave them small waves then and again.
As the hours passed and I sat on my porch, I kept on coming to one thought.
You see, I still missed my son. He had been a joy in my life, and in my time of greatest need for that joy and comfort, I pushed him away.
It was the biggest regret of my life, and I would never forget it.
Suddenly, a car pulled up to my house.
I got up, knowing it had to be the boy who had brought his fundraiser.
The back door opened first and the boy came running out, catalog in hand.
I froze when I saw the other person that came out.
He had black hair and a calm expression.
It was him.
It was Joseph.
The boy reached me, handing me the catalog with a gleeful expression.
Then Joseph came, but he froze when he saw who I was as well.
“Joseph?” I choked out, stepping forward but stopping again.
Joseph looked me in the eyes, and I saw that he had not expected to see me.
The boy looked between us.
“What's wrong dad?”
Joseph looked at the boy and forced a smile.
“Nothing Daniel. It's nothing.”
I tried to comprehend what had just happened.
I was a grandfather.
Joseph was married.
“Let's go inside.” I said, trying to calm myself and holding the door open for them.
Joseph nodded, and I saw his teeth gritted.
I led them to the dining table and let them sit down, offering them something to drink.
Joseph refused, but his son, Daniel, nodded vigorously.
“I’m dying of thirst!” He said with a small laugh. I opened the fridge and pulled out some lemonade I had made for anyone who might come by my house.
When the boy had taken a large sip and sighed, leaning back in his chair, I started to flip through the catalog.
I didn't find anything I wanted.
I looked up at my son, who's eyes were avoiding mine.
Setting the catalog down, I cleared my throat.
“Joseph. It's good to see you.”
Joseph looked at me, his gaze hardening.
“I didn't know you cared.” He said haughtily.
I gulped and nodded, preparing for what I was going to say next.
“I'm sorry for what I did to you. I truly am. I missed you, Joseph. I wanted to say that for so long, but I didn't know where you went.” I said, looking down.
I saw Joseph look down, hiding his face from his son.
“What is happening?” Daniel said, looking between us.
I opened my mouth to speak, but Joseph gave me a warning look.
“Why don't you go wait in the car.” Joseph said calmly, watching Daniel leave.
Once the front door had slammed shut, Joseph turned back to me, anger flared up in his eyes.
“Why won't you just call me son? If you were so desperate to see me, why won't you call me son?” Joseph said, standing up to look down at me.
I didn't answer, knowing he had a point.
“I’m just so sorry…” I said, resting my head on the table.
Joseph sighed and sat back down, putting his head in his hands.
“Why don't you tell that to the boy you left thirty-five years ago.” He said, looking up to show that he was crying.
I looked at him, tears streaking my face as well.
“I-I can’t. All I can do is ask for forgiveness from you now.” I said, closing my eyes.
Joseph was silent for a moment, then he answered.
“I do forgive you. I forgave you a long time ago.” Joseph said quietly and I opened my eyes to look at him, slightly surprised.
“My son needs a grandfather. And you might need a grandson. Maybe you can start over with him. Maybe you can make it right.” Joseph said, a small smile appearing on his face.
I smiled too, tears still streaming down.
“I would like that, I really would.”
Since that day, I've been trying hard to make a difference. Joseph has finally opened up, and he sits by me now, watching the birds in the trees. Two of the most important things in my life had happened on April First, April Fools day. I had met the love of my life and had reunited with my son. Daniel was amazing, and I had kept my promise to Joseph to try harder to be a good grandfather and not separate myself from him. Joseph's wife was a beautiful woman that reminded me of her. My chosen one. And knew that I had finally broken out of the chains that had bonded me and now was taking flight, even at this older age. I lived out my last days getting to meet my great-granddaughters. I was at peace when my heart stopped and I took my last breath. And that was how it should be. And how it will always be. Forevermore.