The closer Trent came to his home, the less confident he felt. His self-important stride soon changed into half-hearted staggering. He stooped a little and lowered his gaze, observing the familiar dusty road with unfocused, wandering eyes.
What if his wish won’t come true? How could he just let the angel go, without checking if his supposedly magic wings weren’t fake?
Then again, what if they were real? Sometimes it’s better if your dream remains where it belongs, in its imaginary realm, far away from the real world. Trent was neither a leader of the patrolmen squad, nor a true head of the family. At work there was always a senior officer to take orders from, while at home Trent listened to his wife. The wish that Trent made was also the first decision made on his own accord in years.
At home Trent couldn’t find any comfort. It was still impossible to say for sure if his wish was fulfilled. This only made matters worse. Trent was stuck in between two unpleasant feelings: the fear of being cheated and the fear of disturbing the delicate balance, established in his family for the past three years. Before that, there were two figures of authority, whose interests and opinions contradicted more often than not.
He couldn’t act normally under such circumstances. His wife could operate on autopilot all right, especially when it concerned kids and housework. Ironing, cleaning, wiping little Nathan’s nose, helping Alice with her lessons. All this Janine could do one way or another, by book or by crook, even if her mind was occupied by other important matters.
Trent was different. If something was wrong with him, everyone could see it. First of all, Janine. She watched him closely as he struggled with the buttons of his uniform, listened to his unusually verbose and incoherent conversations with kids. She never uttered a single word concerning his troubled condition. Trent knew that Janine will let him voice his concerns later, in private.
The time for diner came and still nothing unusual happened. Nevertheless, as Janine was arranging the plates and cutlery on the table, Trend said in a hoarse, wavering voice:
“Would you… would you add an extra plate, my dear? A special guest might join us tonight.” – His hand with a fork clutched in it, started to shake as he spoke
Janine gave him one of her lingering, investigating looks, but chose to remain silent. The requested plate landed on the table neatly, along with a napkin and a table-knife.
Everything was ready, and the family gathered at the table. Yet, nobody touched the food. They all heard it now. The footsteps, ginger but clearly audible. Someone was coming.
The steps were soon followed by a heavy knock on the door.
Trent sat at his chair, unable to lift a finger.
One more powerful, yet a little hesitant knock followed.
“If I understand correctly, you’re waiting for somebody, Trent?” – Janine spoke in a calm and reasonable voice – “Why don’t you open the door for your guest?”