A companion story to Ghosts
By the time the family had settled into their hotel and had dinner it was obvious that whatever hopes they had for any sightseeing would have to wait until morning. The fact that Maja fell asleep at the table only reinforced the decision. Handing his wallet to his wife Luka rose to pick up his youngest child, then smiled as her arms automatically found their way around his neck even in sleep.
"How are you doing?" He turned his attention to Juraj as Alenka went to settle the bill and his son rose as well.
"Kind of tired, we going to go back to the room?" The boy's own fatigue reflected in his features.
"I think so, I think we could all use a good night's rest, then we can start out bright and early in the morning." As he spoke Luka started for the door with Juraj not far behind.
"Did Mama decide where she wanted to go first?" He asked the question not sure if he wanted to really know the answer.
"We haven't had much of a chance to talk about it yet, we'll do it before we go to sleep tonight I think." As he reached the restaurant entrance Luka paused to wait on his wife.
"Tata, do you think we'll have to go to the cemeteries first?"
"I'm not sure, Beba...it'll depend on Mama, does that worry you?" He dropped his eyes so they firmly settled on his son with the question.
"Not really worry...I don't want Mama to be sad on her first day is all...if we go to the other places where there are good memories maybe it will be easier for her, " Juraj locked his eyes on his Father's as well...the serious of the discussion quite clear on his face.
"You've been thinking about this a lot haven't you?"
"Some...it's like going to the place where they died...or you going where your first family died...it'll make you sad to see those places and I just thought it might be easier to see happy things first." Luka couldn't help feeling that his son's words might have been coming from one much older then ten.
"I'll talk to Mama tonight, and tell her what you think...will that work?"
Juraj nodded, allowing a small smile to form as he did. "Thanks, Tata."
An hour later found both children sound asleep and Luka and Alenka not far behind. The extra shifts and the long trip had done their jobs well and even as he lay waiting for his wife to finish in the bathroom Luka wondered if he would make it. Stifling a yawn he rolled onto his stomach before wrapping his arms around the pillow. How was it possible he could be so relaxed? He yawned again then turned his eyes to the bathroom door as the crack of light from the room briefly illuminated the dark.
"Coming to bed?" He spoke quietly so as not to wake the children in the other bed.
In lieu of a response Alenka switched the light off and padded quietly across the room before climbing into bed beside him, and as she did Luka released his pillow before shifting to lay on his back to accommodate her.
When she was settled with her head on his chest he moved his hand to stroke her hair. "Worried?"
"A little...what were you and Juraj talking about after dinner?" She found it easy to relax under his touch, and without conscious realization the layers of stress began to fall away.
"He was asking when we would go to the cemeteries...he's concerned about us going first thing in the morning." As he spoke he drew his wife closer to him.
"I worry about him sometimes...he seems so old...I wonder if we've put too much of our past on the two of them..." As Luka held her Alenka found her own hands seeking him out, needing the feel of him as much as he seemed to need her.
"What else could we have done? Neither of us could have pretended our pasts never happened...it wouldn't have been fair to these children or those..or Danijela and Damir."
"Luka...I know that...it's because of them that we're together in the first place...and maybe that was the most important thing for us to remember. If we had never lost them we would never have found each other." With her words Alenka raised up so she could kiss him. "Maybe that's another reason we have to go...to thank them for making that sacrifice."
"It won't be easy...for any of us." Luka spoke softly after returning the kiss, but didn't yet release her.
"No...I never thought it would be, but it's been 25 years...it's time we said the good-byes we couldn't say before. I need to let them go...I've held onto them for so long, but now I know it's time, coming back here has made me realize that. I want to see where we lived...where they died, and I want to finally lay it all to rest. I think you want the same." She lifted her hand to touch his cheek as she finished.
Her words were stronger then he had expected and for a moment he was unable to reply, instead he turned his head so he could kiss her palm. "I knew there was another reason I married you besides the fact you were so beautiful."
Alenka smiled to his compliment then kissed him again before returning her head to his chest. "I think you need to get some sleep..." Her words held a gentle teasing in their tone.
Luka laughed in response then brought his hand to her hair again, stroking it soothingly as they lay together in the dark. "Thank you for finally doing this."
"It's time, Luka...it's time."
to be continued...