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“SUCH a long time, it has been,” Alvin mused as the plane started its descent at the Cheddi Jagan Airport in Guyana, South America.
“Home again,” he said, with a happy thought and sense of relief.

He had left home years ago as an eighteen-year-old to study for a Master’s degree in Architecture, Europe and had planned to return home after the completion of his studies but instead, he stayed for a further two years, working to gain some experience. The real reason for his change of plans though, was because he didn’t want to return home just yet, something he kept to himself.

His mother and father’s marriage had developed problems whilst he was in high school, studying for his ‘A Levels’ and it kept getting worse. The deep tensions in the home and verbal conflicts his young mind had borne to a point where he couldn’t take much more of it, leaving to study overseas, then, was a reprieve from it all.

He had hoped things would get better by the time he was ready to return but close to that time, his parents’ marriage crashed, culminating in a bitter divorce that created an enmity between the mother and father’s side of the family. He had felt his mind wasn’t strong enough to deal with that problem and he enlisted in the Navy, taking comfort in the fact that his mother was in the good hands of his elder brother and sister who were mentally stronger. He had written letters regularly to her, detailing his life as a soldier, how good the training and the duties were for him so she wouldn’t worry. His father he wasn’t so much in contact with but often he had thought of him.

Today, Alvin had become a mature young man, tall, brave and strong with a cool and suave personality, not to mention his classic good looks.
His mother cried with joy and hugging him, she said, “I am so happy to see you again, son, and I am so proud of you.”

She did not speak of his father and he did not ask to avoid opening wounds. Alvin decided he would speak to his father later since he was informed he was on a business trip in Panama, so he spent that week reuniting with family and friends. So much had changed, many of his friends had gotten married and he could find none of his old girlfriends.
“I guess we will have to find you a new girlfriend,” his old high school buddy, Kevin, who had been so shy, said with confidence.

“Nah man, I’m good,” Alvin said and looked at his old friend bemused, “Since when have you become so brave with girls?”
They were standing by the water coconut vendor at Bourda market, enjoying the cool, delicious water, something they had done regularly as schoolboys, and Kevin answered a bit ruefully,
“Since my best friend left, I had to find my own way in life.”

That hit Alvin because he hadn’t realised his friend would have needed his support so much and he said with regret, “I’m sorry bro, staying away so long hadn’t been in my plans.”
“I understand,” Kevin said, “That’s life.”

“I have a lot to make up for,” Alvin said.
That night, lying sleepless in bed, he thought of his father, who had been blamed for all the problems in the family because of his infidelity, but Alvin couldn’t find himself hating him. He had managed to keep an open mind because his father at one time has been his hero, a smart and astute businessman with a strong personality.
“We somehow lost that bond,” Alvin said with deep regret.

The scattered broken pieces would be hard to find and piece back together so maybe, something new could begin.
His father, his sister told him, had remarried and when Alvin questioned to whom, his sister told him candidly, “You’ll see when you visit him.”
He would be seeing him on Sunday so Saturday night was good to go out with Kevin and a couple of friends. A great night it was for Alvin experiencing Georgetown’s nightlife at different entertainment spots – Hardrock Café, Giftland Strip, Bistro and winding it down at Palm Court at 2:00 hrs. The party was in full swing and as the second round of drinks came around, three beautiful women walked in, sass, style and breathtakingly chic.

At the different spots that night, Alvin had seen and spoken to some astounding beautiful girls but only now his interest was caught by one. She was wearing a chic, little black dress that accentuated her slim, stunning figure. He looked at her, liking the way she laughed, the light reflecting off her reddish, gold hair, and just as he decided to approach her, three guys walked up, asking the girls to dance.

“Slow,” Kevin teased him.
“It happens,” Alvin said casually.
He looked back minutes later and saw she had come back alone to the table and he did not hesitate a second time, approaching her in his usual cool and casual manner.
“Hey, can I join you?”
She looked at her, smiled a little and shook her head.
“I’m here with friends.”
“Can I buy you a drink then?”
Before she could answer, the guy she was dancing with was coming back and Alvin saw the smile fading from her face. She said to him, “You can sit and I’ll have that drink.”
He sat down and signalled the waiter as the guy, stopped, stared angrily at him and walked away.
“I guess I’ll sit here and be your bodyguard until your friends return.”
She laughed a little and after a few drinks, she was ready to dance. She was a wonderful dancer, moving with the flow of the music, elegant and sensuous, but not long after she left with her friends.

When Alvin woke up later in the day, he laid in bed for a long while thinking of her and he said quietly, “She’s so beautiful, I wonder if I will see her again.”
He had felt that incredible rush in his heart when he was with her and he wondered, “Is this falling in love?”
That evening he went to visit his father who was living in a smaller house but with modern luxuries, in an upscale area. Alvin was directed to the study where his father stood looking out the bay window. He turned and father and son stood looking at each other, neither saying a word until Alvin broke the silence.
“It’s good to see you again, dad.”

His father nodded and pouring a long shot of whiskey, he lifted his glass and said to Alvin, “It’s been a long time, son.”
He finished the drink and walking towards Alvin, he held him by the shoulders and said, his voice a little unsteady, “You’ve grown into a man, I am so proud of you.”
Alvin nodded, his emotions a bit shaken and they sat and talked for a while, then his father said,
“I’m sure you heard I remarried.”

“Yes…” Alvin answered.
“Come,” he said with a pleased smile, “let me introduce you to her.”
He stood at the bottom of the stairs and called for his new wife but Alvin did not look up the stairs until his father said, “Here she comes, my new bride.”
Alvin turned and looked at the young woman as she came down the stairs, beautiful, simple and yet stunning in a royal blue dress. The shock he felt at seeing her, left him at a loss for words.

His father’s bride was the young woman he had met and was dancing with last night.
The woman his heart spoke for.
To be continued…

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