Paternal: Who Is This Man?

“Mommy, who are you talking to?” He was always an inquisitive boy, so smart, and sociable. He did not know a stranger. He eyed this new houseguest, taking him in, judging his clothes, his face, his eyes. “Hi! I’m Levi. I’m 6.”
I watched, unable to speak, wanting to cry out to make it stop, never intending this reunion to happen, as he crouched down to eye level with my son, his son, and took him in.
“Hi Levi, I’m James. I knew your mommy a long time ago. We’re old friends.”
I wished he hadn’t said that. I wished he had said he was just leaving. Levi eyed the man.
“But I heard Mommy yelling.” His little trusting eyes searched my face. I smiled, cornered into playing nice, into explaining the whole situation.
“James was just leaving, weren’t you James? I’ll walk you to the door.”
James looked hurt. But he followed me, another first for him. I had expected a fight, but I got civility. Maybe he had changed.
“Could we meet for lunch? Maybe a picnic at the park?” he whispered at the door. I looked at him hard.

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