Michela Walters’s Picture Choice: 2
Title: Playing With Lions
Strong arms wrapped protectively around Clara’s middle, as he kissed up the side of her neck. “What are you doing?” he asked, even though it was blatantly obvious she was looking at an old photo of him as a boy.
Shaking her head in wonder, “I cannot believe you parents let you pal around with lions when you were living in Kenya. What were they thinking?” she chuckled, knowing he was safe and sound behind her.
“It was a different time, a different place. My mother assured me the lions were well fed and the cubs loved wrestling almost as much as I did.” The rumble of his laugh spread through her back, causing her to smile and spin in his arms. Poking her index finger deep into his chest she chided, “If your mum thinks I’m letting our kid run around with wild animals, she has another thing coming.”
As if hearing her name being called, Alistair’s mom, Vivian walked through the door carrying a plate of cookies and the tea she’d offered them after their long journey. “That photo has always been one of my favorites. If I’d tried that nowadays, I bet he’d have been taken away by some well intentioned do-gooder. Those were some of the best days of my life, when we were helping so many and living so wildly.” Her eyes drifted back to the photo, looking wistful and lost.
“Are you going to be okay here all alone, mum?” Alistair crossed the expanse, snagging a cookie off the plate while helping his mom into the chair in the same movement. “Once things get settled after the services, we could look into getting you a flat near us?”
The elderly woman waved her hand casually in front of her face, “Pish-posh, nonsense. I’ve lived here for over fifty years now, and I’ll be here until I end up in the ground beside your father. Of course this will mean you’ll have to come and visit a bit more often, now won’t it?” Vivian waved Clara over and slid her bony fingers on top of the woman’s burgeoning belly. “You’re going to love visiting Nana, won’t you sweetie?” she whispered into her daughter-in-law’s stomach. “Your Mum probably won’t let you play with lions, but hopefully we can take you by the sanctuary where you can feed the cubs one day.”
Vivian continued to speak to her grandchild while Clara and Alistair exchanged indulgent smiles. “I would have liked our son to have met Charles. He was a lovely man,” Clara gushed once she was able to extricate herself from the woman’s grasp.
“He would have made a fine granddad, wouldn’t he?” She took a sip of her tea but didn’t continue her thought, seemingly lost in her memories.
“We were going to surprise you next week, but well-- with everything with Dad,” Alistair began, sitting down and taking his mom’s hands in his own. “We wanted to let you know we decided to name our son after him. Charles William, or Charlie for short. We’d chosen it a while ago, and after Dad’s heart attack it seemed even more important to us. Are you okay with that?”
A tear slid down Vivian’s stoic face and she nodded twice, before pulling her son into her chest. She finally allowed herself to release the pain of losing her soulmate and the joy of gaining her first grandchild. It was all a bit too overwhelming for her. “I’d like that and think your dad would have been proud to share his namesake.”
The trio sat together for the rest of the evening reminiscing about their adventures with Charles and their innocent wonder over their impending arrival.
Just after Clara had fallen asleep, Alistair leaned down to her belly and whispered, “Life’s too short not to play with lions. But don’t fear, Nana and I will figure something out.” He brushed a kiss on her tummy and rolled to his side, wondering if he was going to live up to be the kind of father his was. It was a lofty goal, but one he planned on meeting head on with football matches, nursery rhymes and lots, and lots of love.
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Michela Walters is a wife, mother and book enthusiast. She is currently attempting her hand at writing her first romantic fiction novella. You can read her other stories on her blog: michelawalters.wordpress.com