Story Notes:Written in 2010.
She was the spitting image of his mother. She stood on the platform at the train station by herself, looking so much older than eight with her suitcase in her hand, dark-eyed and confident.
Dick saw her first and pointed her out to Lewis, who lost his breath for a moment. Then he slowly went to her.
She seemed to recognize him, despite his absence from her memory. He kneeled down to her height while Dick watched from afar.
“You’re my dad, aren’t you?” asked Judy Nixon.
Lewis smiled sadly, his heart achingly full. “Yeah,” he said. “I’m your dad.”
“Who’s that man?” she asked, peering over Lewis’ shoulder. “My uncle?”
How could he explain? He couldn’t. Not yet. She wouldn’t understand. “That’s Mr Winters,” he said softly, rising to his feet and taking her suitcase. “You can call him Dick. He’s going to help me take care of you from now on.”
“Is he nice?”
The feeling of a small hand slipping into his own surprised him; he looked down into Judy’s worried face. “You’re not gonna get rid of me too, are you?”
Lewis bit his lip as tears stung his eyes. “Never,” he whispered. “Never.”
Dick smiled to himself, charmed, and watched from the doorway as Lewis tucked Judy into bed.
“Do you need anything?” Lewis asked anxiously. “Glass of water? A bedtime story?”
“Want me to leave the light on? The window open? Do you want a stuffed animal or a—”
Judy snuggled under the homemade quilt and giggled, amused by his nervousness. “It’s okay, Dad. I’m fine.”
Lewis felt a lump form in his throat. Dad.
He swallowed down his heart. “Okay then. G’night, kiddo.”
He leaned forward, tenderly kissed his daughter’s warm little forehead, and turned out the lights.