A companion story to Ghosts
"Maja...are you going to eat that sandwich or just play with it?" Alenka glanced over to where the small girl sat at the table, before returning her attention to what she was doing.
"Tata always cuts it in 4 pieces." She pulled the remaining crust from the cheese sandwich in her hand as if her comment answered what her mother had asked.
"I am not Tata...now eat it." At the sound of footsteps on the stairs she reached for the empty coffeecup on the counter and filled it, then carried it and the plate she had been working on to the table.
"Just in time?" Luka stifled a yawn before pulling out the chair next to his daughter and taking a seat. "So..what are we having?" He took in the sandwich on his own plate as his wife sat it in front of him then accepted the coffeecup as she handed it to him. "Thank you...I need this."
"I thought you might." She offered a smile to him before looking back over to the little girl as she pulled the cheese from between the slices of bread that made up her sandwich. "Maja..." Then shook her head as she decided it wasn't worth the argument.
"Juraj already ate?" He asked the question as he swallowed then sat the cup on the table and reached for his own sandwich.
"He wasn't hungry, I think he's eager to go." Pouring a cup of coffee for herself she took a seat opposite from him. "We'll need to leave within the hour."
He nodded in agreement as he chewed, then lay it back on the plate to reach for his cup again. "What about you? It's been a long time." He took a sip then extended his hand only to lay it on top of hers.
"More nervous I think...so much will have changed." She turned her hand to lace her fingers in his. "I wonder if we'll even recognize it."
"I don't know...you're not having second thoughts about going are you?" He searched her eyes for the signs.
Swallowing she shook her head. "No..I need this as much as you do." She offered a smile to reassure him. "If it wasn't for them we wouldn't be here now."
"Come here." He raised her hand letting a smile enter his face as she rose in compliance. As he moved to make space for her on his lap her smile joined his. "Have I told you how much I love you?" He let his eyes settleon hers with the question.
In response she leaned over to kiss him sliding one arm around his neck. "I could never bring myself to go back..." She whispered the confession quietly to him.
"I know, it's all right...we'll do it together." He returned her kiss then looked over as he felt a pull on his sleeve.
"Me too Tata..."
"You too..and Juraj..." He returned his attention to his wife as she lay her head on his shoulder, letting his fingers run through her hair as he studied her.
"Is Mama sad?" The small girl asked the question even as she abandoned her lunch and slid off the chair to move over to them. "Don't be sad Mama..." She lay her hand on her Mother's arm in shared empathy.
"Maja..can you go find Juraj and help him bring the bags down by the door while I talk to Mama?" Luka shifted his attention for a moment, hoping to give his wife some of the privacy he felt she needed, then as the girl nodded and ran off he turned back to her. "We can cancel if you aren't ready to do this." He made the offer even as he knew she would refuse.
"No, Luka..it's been twenty-five years...we said we would do this for them...for us...I'll be all right." She lifted her head then kissed him again. "We both need this, and the children deserve to see where we were born. We've never hidden our pasts from them...I want them to have a chance to see the places we've talked about."
He nodded in agreement to her words then lifted one of his hands to rub his eye. "It won't be easy for either of us will it?" He asked the question softly.
"Probably not...but Danijela, Jasna, and Marko have always been a part of who you are in the same way that Damir and Neven will always be a part of me...now, it's time we said good-bye." She brushed her fingers through his hair, then allowed a faint smile to find her. "It's time Luka..."
to be continued...