Another short story based on the Crossing Series: Thomas paced in front of the park bench, the night air cooling his sweaty skin. He wrung his hands. “Get a grip on yourself, Thomas.”

He paused at a fork in the path, eyes darting down each way. “Left goes to the liquor store. Right goes…right goes….” He shook his head. “I have no idea where right goes.”

He turned around, wringing his hands some more. “This path goes home. Home.” He shook his head in disgust. “That’s not home. That’s their house. The grand in-laws swooping in to save their precious daughter from the incompetent husband.”

Thomas waved his fist in the air. “I am not incompetent!” he shouted down the path.

“Someone tick you off?”

Thomas spun around to face a man several inches shorter than his own average height. “Uh, sorry.” He looked nervously around the ground, avoiding eye contact. “I didn’t realize anyone was around.”

“That’s okay.” The man held up a child-sized jacket and pointed behind him, down the path on the right. “My daughter left her jacket at the park earlier. I was just on my way home.”

Daughter. The very word wrenched Thomas’ heart. Tears flowed and Thomas knew nothing would be able to stop them. “How…” He cleared his throat and spoke best he could. “How old is she?”

“Eight.” The man paused, then continued quietly. “What happened to your girl?”

Thomas started. How does he know I have a girl? His eyes darted down the left path, thirst for a drink consuming his thoughts.

“Did it happen very long ago?” the man said.

Thomas looked back at the man. “What?” His voice barely cooperated. “Did what happen?”

“Whatever it was that ripped your heart out at the mention of my daughter.”

The man stood quietly waiting. Thomas turned to face the park bench, wringing his hands, desperate for control over the emotions. Finally he couldn’t contain them any longer. A long groan erupted from him as he sank to his knees. A strong arm went around his shoulder as he sobbed.

“I’ve lost them!” he cried, hands covering his eyes. “I’ve lost them both!”

[If you’d like to read other short stories based on the Crossing series, click here.]

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