Carrie pulled the small bundle closer in to her chest as a sharp wind flung open the metal framed doors causing them to clang harshly against the tiled walls. The sound echoed through the half empty depot and she looked around at the stained plastic chairs and wondered if the filth would rub off on her if she sat in one. Michael was late. She wondered how he managed to be so punctual for them. She imagined that if he treated them the way that he treated her he'd have been kicked out a long time ago. That could have been the best thing for all of them; especially Mikayla. She held the infant tighter as she paced back and forth; looking from the door to the ticket counter, then back again. It was a quarter past five. He was going to miss his bus. She smiled.
An old man in a long tattered coat limped up close to her and grinned a toothless grin as the stench of sour mash and stale cigarettes wafted towards her. She felt bile rising into her throat as she turned away from him and hurried towards the ladies room. Mikayla was beginning to get fussy and she was going to have to be fed soon. Carrie shuddered; she wouldn't dare attempt to breastfeed in such a place. She'd brought a bottle, which of course was ice cold now. It was Michael's fault again. She swore this was the last time she'd meet him in a place like that. Mikayla didn't need a lifetime of five minute interludes with a father she'd never really know. Carrie had never really known him either, he was always just passing through. He was career military, no matter how much he denied it; always promising he was going to get out the next time. He was a liar. Not a soldier, not a sailor; just a liar.
Carrie changed the baby's diaper, then peeked warily out of the restroom. The toothless man had a brown paper bag of something and he was nursing it over in the corner. She looked away before he turned his head. The wind blew open the doors again and a flutter of crumpled newspapers swept across the room. And there was Michael, with his ever present overstuffed duffel bag; they were the real couple.
Carrie had forgotten how tall and muscular he was. She remembered the last time she'd seen him. Four months ago at the hospital, the night he'd became a father. She had cried and cried for him, and finally he'd come; just long enough to find out it was a girl, and then he'd left. She'd gotten a letter a month later saying he was getting out within six, and he'd call her soon to make plans. But the days passed and turned into weeks and no call ever came.
Then two weeks ago, out of the blue he called and said he'd be in town for a few hours; could she meet him at the bus station with Mikayla? He said he'd love to see them both. It broke her heart all over again. But of course, she had to say yes.
And there he was, just like he'd never been gone. She ran to him, holding up Mikayla in her pink frilly dress, her innocent blue eyes not recognizing her own father. Carrie threw herself against him, nestling their child into his chest, and she kissed him. Harder and longer than she ever had. It was a kiss good-bye.
Then she said it, "I loved you Michael. And Mikayla would have too."
"I know." Michael hung his head, it was all he could manage to say.
She watched him get on the bus and she turned to leave. The toothless man raised his paper bag and Carrie smiled at him and nodded. She snuggled Mikayla in closer as she pulled open the heavy door and went out into the icy wind as tears flowed freely down her cheeks.
©2012 Garden Summerland