Only in Daydreams

I had such fun answering this prompt from the NaNoWriYe DreamWidth.  I’m really pleased with how it turned out and I’ve gotten away from the dark stuff I’ve been writing the last few days.

Prompt: Strangers

“My goodness,” Mama said, her voice soft. “Don’t you look like the fine young gentleman?”

Erik heaved a sigh and pushed a lock of hair behind his ear. “Are you going to take pictures of us before we head out?” he asked. She always had. He didn’t know why this year would be any different, except that it was in so many other ways. They would be starting secondary school – a new school, with kids they didn’t know – and Papa was home.

“Of course,” Mama said. She waved him towards Gretchen and said, “Stand with your sister.”

Gretchen was wearing one of her new skirts and Papa had a look on his face that made Erik wonder if she’d make it out the door. However, Papa surprised him by finally sighing and kissing her on her brow.

“Papa,” she said, barely stopping herself from rolling her eyes. “We’ll be back not too long after you get home. We’re just day students.”

“I know,” he said. He smiled and then looked over at Erik. “I’m just… you both look so grown up!” He stepped back, so that Mama could take several pictures of them from different angles.

Then, Gretchen was hurrying out the door. She paused on the front steps just long enough to put her skates on. Then, she was leaving Erik behind. He didn’t bother yelling after her. She wouldn’t have listened anyway.

“Worried?” Papa said, his voice soft.

Erik heaved a sigh and shrugged. “I won’t know anyone,” he said. He bit his lip and dropped his gaze to his shoes. Gretchen would make friends within moments of entering the school. It wasn’t so easy for him. He was too shy of strangers to talk to them.

“Henryk will be there,” Papa said.

That was unexpected. Erik looked up at him sharply and smiled. “Really?” he said, his voice faint. When Papa nodded, he laughed softly. “I better get going or I’ll be late.”

“Try and have fun, Erik ,” Papa said, waving to him. As Erik hurried out the door, he said, “Before you know it, you’ll be graduating. These days go by quicker than you think.”

Erik blinked at his father’s words. Then, he nodded. “I’ll remember that, Papa,” he said, his voice soft. He put on his own skates and then he hurried off towards the school. He would do his best not to let his shyness get the better of him. In seven years, he would be graduating.

Papa had been gone for seven years and Erik had heard his father say, more than once, that he hadn’t realized how much he’d missed. “I’m not going to miss a moment,” Erik breathed. He’d take each person as they came. A stranger was just a friend he hadn’t made yet.

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