He hadn’t seen the old man since he’d left them all those many years ago. Stewart didn’t know how to feel. His mother succumbed to illness many seasons ago, and his sister Lucy broke contact after she left for the Nine Isles. There his father was, with a grizzled grey beard, and deep wrinkles etched around his eyes and across his forehead. But there was a spark in his eyes even when he wasn’t smiling.
“Hello, my son,” his voice had a deep and colorful timbre.
Stewart didn’t say a word. His father’s sudden departure had devastated his mother. All he left was a single note and a hundred questions behind. He often wondered, late at night while curled up in bed, what other reason his father could have left the entire family for.
“I haven’t seen you since you were a little boy,” his father continued.
“Why did you come back?” Stewart said plainly.
“I finally found what I was looking for. Where is your mother?”
Another silence. The old man looked around his home, but it was only them inside.
“Don’t bother, she passed away long ago,” Stewart finally said.
His father looked down and shook his head slowly. Despite being taken by surprise, his eyes still had something in them, not exactly happiness, but neither could they be smothered by sadness. “I’m sorry. I wish I could have been here for you, and for her.”
“Well, you weren’t.”
“Where’s Lucy, your sister?” his father asked.
“I don’t know, somewhere in the Nine Isles. I haven’t heard from her for more than twenty seasons.”
A thick silence entered the home. It seemed to push the father and son further away, if not physically then in someways else. The father looked away, but his face said it all. It was the look of a man who came back to a place of ruin.
Neither of them spoke a word for a long while. “There’s something I want to show you,” the old man finally said.
“Whatever you found in your journey to Kal’bori wasn’t worth it. How could you have just suddenly left us like that?”
His father paced around, thinking. “Every day I thought of whether I made the right choice. I saw things in Kal’bori that you couldn’t imagine. I knew I had The Spark inside me. And look,” he held his palms out, and a small ball of fire formed and bounced from one hand to the other. Then he blew it away, and an arc of lightning pulsed like a bridge between his palms. “I found it. I learned from all the old masters, and I found magic in me,” his smile was as happy as broken glass.
“You should have stayed there. Why did you have to come back? That magic sure as hell isn’t going to change anything! It’s not going to change the past,” tears swelled in Stewart’s eyes. “What I had to endure… While you were away, searching for magic! Gods be damned!”
Staring at his old hands, his father gave a great sigh. He came in quickly and gave his son a hug, the first in countless seasons. “I came here to try to mend what I had broken. I wish I could turn back time, I was young and unwise, curious and hungry for more. I am sorry, my son, for what you had to endure in my absence. I know I can never fix the past. Have faith in me, for I will return.”
Stewart opened his eyes to a silent home, his body still in bed in the early morning. As he sat up, he was overwhelmed with emotion. For a moment, it all felt so real, so believable. And yet, it was another day, like yesterday, without his mother, father, or sister.