In an effort to work my way towards writing a whole book, I have decided to write a series of Chapter Ones. This is the second Chapter One, the first Chapter One is resting comfortably in this blog. I should also mention that they are based on real events from the life of yours truly!
She stood under the hotel awning fidgeting with the strap of her handbag, suddenly wanting a cigarette. She hadn’t smoked for twenty years, interesting the need should pop up now, she thought, as she raised her eyes to the bleak sky. The hotel, a Holiday Inn, was on the outskirts of Manchester, a dollop of cheery colour next to the iron works shops and the city tip. Her Aunt hadn’t wanted to leave her there, afraid the dodgy surroundings would somehow infiltrate the hotel lobby.
The rain was steady and cold, an old friend she dearly missed living in Southern California. She would have stood out in the rain, greedily soaking it up for later use, if she hadn’t needed to look presentable. With each vehicle that entered the parking lot her heart started and her fingers quickened their insistent kneading, the fabric of the strap heating up, burning her fingertips. She stared, unabashedly, as the drivers exited their cars, running for the cover of the hotel awning. She took meaning from the cars before determining it wasn’t him; how big they were, how small, what colour they were, how quickly they entered the lot. Once, she felt sure it was him and waved only to realize it was a large Woman and she laughed with the relief of it. She thought about documenting her wait, capturing the grey sky, the outline of downtown Manchester in the distance, the absolute banality of a hotel parking lot in the rain. Would she see a difference in herself in the before and after? If she scrutinized the “before” video, would she see where she was hollow, needy like a child, hopeful? Suddenly the video became necessary, the only means by which she would know something inside herself had shifted and she scrabbled in her pocket for her phone.
She looked up and saw a silver Volvo carefully negotiate the parking lot entrance and instinctively knew it was him. She caught a glimpse of faded ginger hair, a cream coloured cable knit sweater. She noticed the methodical parking of the car. He got out, slowly easing his way to standing, locked the car and as he turned he stopped, noticing her under the awning. Her hand clutching the phone hovered in mid-air and she quickly stuffed it back into her pocket.
They faced each other across the slick tarmac and even from where she stood, she felt everything fall into place. The thought that slowly bloomed, like those light bulbs that awaken incrementally, was this; well that makes sense. The geography of his face was as familiar to her as her own. A man she had never met, for what did she remember of being a baby, a man who by all rights was a stranger, felt more knowable to her in that moment than anything she could conceive of. They were the same. Cut from the same cloth she would tell people later, when she described the day she met her father for the first time.