"I'm glad you called." Her smile fades as she looks down. I can see her lip quivering but I can't speak. I can't seem to find any words to fill this silence.
Fumbling around in her large red bag, she pulls out her wallet offering me a tiny crumpled photograph with a shaking hand. Her fingernails are chipped and worn, the bright red just a small circle in the center of her unkept nails. I make myself look into her eyes as I take the sacred item from her. There is something etched into the lines surrounding her tear-filled eyes that scares me. I can barely breathe when her hand brushes mine. The impulse to run is pounding in my ears, along with my thundering heart which I fear might explode at any moment.
"It's all... this is..." she stammers, and the words hang in the air waiting to be finished. I gulp down air in an effort to swallow the fear, the bitter taste in my mouth. I can hear her breathing hard and loud as she finds the words to finish. "This is the only..." She starts again, her voice cracking. "This is my son."
I look down at the image, at what has haunted my waking and sleeping hours these last few months. My hand is shaking and I can hardly see through the tears streaming down my face. "Charlie." I whisper, the damn breaking and flowing free over the table here in the middle of a sunny Tuesday afternoon. I hang my head and let the tears rain down on my lap not bothering to wipe them away. When I finally look up, she is smiling the tears still wet on her cheeks. She stretches her hand over the distance between us and the fear subsides, washed away by our tears.