Normally, he told the truth. Today, however, he wasn’t entirely sure he could. He looked across the crowded cafe towards the door, hoping for and yet dreading the moment when he would catch sight of his father arriving. He glanced down at his watch, and then, as he raised his eyes towards the door again, he recognised the familiar, angular frame of his father. With hesitant, uncomfortable steps, the older man approached the table. Somewhat shyly, he proffered a thin, blue-veined hand to his son. The son returned the handshake, careful not to crush the bony fingers. He helped the old man to shake free of his heavy overcoat, and noticed how little there was underneath this bulky outer layer. It occurred to him as he hung up the coat that his father seemed to be disappearing before his eyes.
He averted his gaze as he took his seat again, all the time longing to explore the deep furrows and tracks of his father’s face, but embarrassed to do so. He stared instead at the bouquet of flowers he had bought earlier on the way to this meeting. He regretted now that he hadn’t spent more. The bigger bouquet would have been much better. Distractedly he ordered tea for two from the busy waitress and tried to form the right words in his head. But how to begin?