The curve of the handle feels familiar under my hand as I push the door open. It goes both ways but it’s been years since I pulled, my need to be different not as desperate as it used to be.
I glance at the far side though I know you won’t be there. You’re always on the parking lot side, not to keep an eye on your car or because it’s brighter, but to easily climb the stairs once the bar at the top of them opens.
I drop my bag onto the red not quite leather not quite plastic bench seat across from you and then lean down to kiss you.
“Oh hello!” You always have this quality of being surprised to see me, though you knew I was coming. “How’re things kiddo?” I give a smile and a bright ‘earl grey tea’ to the lady on my left, coming back to top up your coffee. She smiles and looks from my face to yours. “This the young one?” You nod, acknowledging her as you stir sugar and milk into your coffee. “This is the weird one.” I smirk at you and then smile at her. “And it’s all his fault. He raised me like this. And I think he did very well.”
You nod. “I think we did. There were a couple of moments I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out but we seem to have done alright.”
“You did better than alright, papa. I’m pretty awesome.”
“She’s been calling me papa ever since she came back from France. I like it. So what would you like for your first day as thirty breakfast?”
“Ha! It’s forty and you know it! You just don’t want to accept you’re old enough to have a daughter who is forty.”
“Where did the time go?”
“Same place it always does, whether you’re paying attention or not.”
I hear the familiar creak of the door upstairs and look back to you, you’re already gathering yourself, getting ready to go.
“Can’t you stay a little longer? My breakfast isn’t even here yet.” I’m trying not to whine but I can hear the slightest note creep in. You smile indulgently and take my hand.
“Oh honey, you know I can’t stay. But you also know I’m not going anywhere.”
“I know. I love you, papa.”
“I love you too, honey. Happy birthday.”