Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Winter (11/14/05)
TITLE: Maddie's Daddy
By Lauren Bombardier
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She turned and gave him a small smile. "Yeah."
"How about we stop for a bite to eat?"
"Ok, Daddy." She perked up a little, and turned back to the window.
Twenty minutes later, Danny pulled into a small town. The streets were icy, and he had to negotiate the corners very carefully. They pulled into the parking lot of Deb's Diner, and slid into a spot, finally stopping. Danny looked at Maddie. "You ready?"
She nodded. "Yep!"
When Maddie stepped out of the car, she slipped and almost fell, but caught herself by the car's door handle. Danny tried to rush to her side to help her, but he skidded a few feet and lost his balance, landing on his rear. Maddie giggled. It took a moment for him to regain his footing. When he did, he looked at his daughter, ruefully rubbing his behind. "You thought that was funny, huh?" She giggled again.
Inside the diner, it was warm and the faint strains of Christmas music played on the speakers set into the ceiling. The waitress stood behind the counter, flipping through a magazine. She looked up when Danny shut the door. "Have a seat. I'll be right with you." She continued to flip through the magazine as they sat down.
Sometime later, she came with coffee and menus, and waited while they decided what to eat. They ordered, and sat quietly while she took it to the kitchen. Danny watched Maddie make patterns on the table with her fork. Could he tell her the reason why they were on this trip? Would she understand?
The waitress came with their orders and Maddie ate with gusto while Danny picked at his food. Neither one spoke a word. Maddie finished first, and Danny pushed his aside. He looked out the window, and watched the snow fall.
Finally, Maddie spoke. "Where are we going, Daddy?"
He turned his eyes to his daughter's face. It was time to tell her. "We're going to your Granddad's house to visit him."
She blinked. "Your dad?" He nodded and she thought a moment. "What's he like? You never talk about him."
Danny closed his eyes. For the first time in years, he let the memories wash over him. "He's tall and strong. He always has a kind word and he rarely gets angry." He paused. "He truly knows Jesus, and he lives it all the time."
"He sounds nice."
"Why have we never visited him before?" she asked.
Danny gave her a sad smile. "When I was younger, I was very foolish. I wanted to do my own thing. We fought, and I left."
"You never went back?"
Shaking his head, he twisted his coffee cup around on the table. He spoke in a whisper. "I was afraid he wouldn't take me back."
Maddie waited a moment. "He will. You'll see."
Danny looked at his daughter and saw the faith that only the young have, and he smiled.
They left, and within a few minutes they were on the road. Danny drove through the afternoon. Finally, he drove into the town where he grew up. He cruised through the main street downtown and smiled as Maddie exclaimed over the Christmas decorations. Nostalgia gripped Danny as he turned into the street where he had lived as a child.
He pulled in front of a white house. Danny looked at his daughter. He had been trying to convince himself that it was for her sake that he was doing this, but deep down he knew it was really for his own.
A screen door slammed and he looked at the house. There stood his father, as tall and strong as he remembered. He opened his car door and stepped out, turning to face his father before shutting it.
He watched his father's face as first puzzlement, then wonder, found expression. Finally, joy transfigured the older man's face and he rushed toward Danny. They met in the middle of the yard and stood, just looking at each other. Danny broke the silence.
"I'm home, Dad."
Tears streamed down his father's face and the words "Oh, my son!" came out in a sob. He took Danny into his arms and held him. "Yes. You are home."
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