John hesitated as he stood on the porch of the small farmhouse on the edge of Newcrest. A lifetime had passed since he stood on that property. It seemed so foreign to him yet familiar in a comforting way. The woman he came to see had created a welcoming atmosphere. When he got married, he had to sever ties with her. That didn’t keep him from sending pictures of the kids and calling her in secret. She knew all about his life. The Joneses thought they were crafty, but nothing and no one would ever keep John from the only woman he ever loved.
There was no reason for him to be ashamed. She knew the situation. They weren’t allowed to see each other, and that was ok. Still, he felt guilty for not attempting to see her. What if she were ill or worse? He would have missed it.
John had been a free man for quite some time, and in many ways, he moved on, but in a lot of ways, he stuck with his routine. He wore the same clothes and did his hair the same way. Putting the ring on in the mornings was still a habit. Sometimes he caught himself, but many times he did not. It never occurred to him, until that night, he could go see her now.
He inhaled a quick deep breath and entered the warm home. She was sitting at the dining room table when he walked in. Her dazzling smile stilled his stony heart.
“Well, I’ll be! John Meyers!”
He hadn’t been called by his real name since before he and Mary got married. That name sounded so lovely coming from her lips, but it made him feel even more guilty. He didn’t even know who John Meyers was anymore.
She got up from the table and rushed to him with open arms. He chuckled at her appearance. The years may have passed, but she was still the same free-spirited, sassy woman.
Being in her arms made him feel like that happy kid he vaguely remembered he used to be. Though her eyes were marked with crows feet and wrinkles rested on her forehead, it was almost like no time had passed.
She pulled away from him but didn’t go very far and gazed into the emerald eyes she gave him. “Gosh…you are a sight for sore eyes!”
He too took a moment to drink in the sight of her.
“Can you be here? You’re not gonna get arrested or anything, huh?”
He chuckled and loved that her sense of humor had not diminished with her youth. “No, mom. They don’t tell me what to do anymore.”
She nodded. “I was just having a late night snack. Come sit!”
Looking around the house, he didn’t recognize his childhood home. “I like what you’ve done to the place.”
“Hmph. Yeah, well…I had to do something with all that hush money.”
She didn’t mean to make him feel guilty, but it happened anyway. At the time, he didn’t feel like he had a choice when he agreed to the terms of engagement, but now that he had more life experience on his belt, he recognized that in every decision there was always a choice to make. Both choices had their fair share of pros and cons, and he still wasn’t quite sure which one would have been the right one.
“How are you, mom? Have you been well?”
She laughed. “Oh, John. You’re still a Jones, I see.”
He never considered it before. He could actually go back to his old life, buying his own clothes, wearing his own hairstyle, dropping his formal speech, or even shaving. He could do all of those things, but did he want to? In the beginning, he reluctantly embraced all those things, but now they were part of him. It seemed impossible to let go of them, but the same way he gave up his old life to learn a new, he could put away this farce and rediscover John Meyers.
“Cheer up, boy. You know me. I’m a jokester! So, tell me all about my Phoenix!”
Although he thought Phoenix looked more like Mary, a pleasant feeling washed over him as he looked into his mother’s face and saw her namesake. She wasn’t an exact copy like Susie was, but he saw some similarities. It was her eyes. She gave them to him, and he gave them to his daughters. Even though they didn’t know her and had no idea she existed, they were part of her. Despite not sharing the same last name, they were her legacy too. Perhaps one day, when he was brave enough, he would introduce them.
John and Phoenix spent the evening discussing the children and how he’d been faring since the divorce. She shared her own flavor of motherly advice, and before they knew it, the night had escaped them and John needed to go home.
“Oh, before I forget,” he dug into his pocket, “here’s a key to my apartment. Come see me anytime. I’ll do the same.”
She extended her hand tentatively to take the key. “Are you sure, John? I know you’re a free man, but I don’t want to cause any trouble.”
He smirked. “Come now, mom. We both know I’m a sucker for trouble.”
“I’m serious, boy. Haven’t you had enough bad press?”
He embraced her. “They don’t own me anymore. I do what I want now, and what I want is to spend time with my mother. If that’s a crime, they can come get me.”
She chuckled. “You’re still that daring, adventurous boy, I see. It’s so good to have you back, John Meyers.”
“It’s good to be back.”