Away from the city stars shone brighter. On moonless nights they filled the sky. Don crouched to prod the embers.
Tomorrow he’d drive to an unfamiliar town. He’d find an address, knock on a door and wait—the last seconds of waiting that began when he was five. His mother would be sixty.
He wished Elise were with him. She’d know what to say. She always did.
‘It has to be just you,’ she’d said.
‘But without you I’d never have found her.’
‘It’s your time. That’s why I’m staying here.’
‘Can I call you?’
‘When you’re on your way home.’
The afternoon of the reunion Elise waited by the phone. A swirl of apprehensions weighed upon her. Would the meeting go well? Would Don cope? Would he be changed by it? Of course, but would it be for the better?
At five the phone rang. ‘I’m on my way.’ His voice was strong. Energetic. It wasn’t what she’d expected.
‘You sound good.’
‘Yeah,’ said Don. ‘I suppose I am. I’ll tell you everything when I’m back.’
‘It’s too far to drive straight through,’ she said.
‘I’ll stop near the border again. Another night under the stars—might be nice.’ Then he told her how much he missed her. Told her in words she’d never heard from him before.