Written by Jean Roberts
Picking up the coffee cup she saw it was empty, except for the dry residue of the Cappuccino froth. She sighed as she replaced the cup back on the saucer and looked out of the window. It was beginning to rain. She checked the time on her phone. 14:53. There were no messages. No missed calls. A waitress cleared away the dirty cup.
'Would you like anything else?'
'Um... yes, another cappuccino please.'
When the coffee arrived, she stirred it, slowly. Clockwise. Then anti-clockwise. She read the menu and contemplated having something to eat. Ham and cheese toastie. Club sandwich. Victoria sponge. Lemon drizzle. The choice was tempting but she decided against it. She checked the time again. 15:08. Carefully she took the postcard out of her handbag and read the front: 'To boldly go where no night bus has gone before' was printed above a map in the form of a constellation naming the stops on the bus routes. She studied the locations. Trafalgar Square, Croydon, Edgware and Dagenham, amongst others. Places she was familiar with. Turning the postcard over she smiled to herself as she read what he'd written. Apart from her name and address, the only other words he'd written were 'Love, Tim x.'
Her finger traced the words and tears pricked at her eyes.
Remembering her coffee, she took a sip. It was still luke warm. She read the front of the card again, and then checked the time. 15:16. Looking at the postcard again, she read the post mark; Mount Pleasant, 14 July 2015. Had it been that long? And Mount Pleasant, which was two minutes from her flat. If he'd posted it there, had he lived that close all this time? Could she have passed him in the street? Sat next to him on that night bus? Stood next to him in a queue at the newsagents? Sitting here now, she wondered if this was a good idea after all. Up until now he had been nothing more than a voice on the telephone. An e-mail. A text. But after today, he would be flesh and blood. He would be a real person. Really real. The postcard had been the personal contact, until then all contact had been through a third party. She couldn't have met him out of loyalty to her mother. But after her mothers' death almost three months ago she agreed to meet him and today was the day. Hearing the bell of the café door she looked up from the postcard, to see, for the first time, the man who was her biological father.