It was time to go to the airport and Mr. Wharton was waiting outside of Layne’s flat. He had offered to give him a lift and after protesting at first, Layne accepted. He would have preferred to take a taxi because he always felt guilty when he was around his father. And ending his ended his affair with Sable hadn’t changed that.
Sable. He paused briefly as he thought about her and how much he missed her. Weeks had passed since the breakup. He was miserable. So many times, he was tempted to call her and ask her to come to his flat. His father had invited him to have dinner at the mansion before he left for his mission trip to Africa but he declined, saying that he was too busy and he promised that he would have with them when he returned.
He spoke to his father two days ago and that was when he offered to take him to Heathrow. “It will give us a chance to spend time with each other before you leave and I won’t see you for a whole month,” Mr. Wharton said.
“All right, Dad. I’ll see you on Saturday.”
And here, he was getting ready to leave his flat and London to spend a month in South Africa. He was looking forward to it but at the back of his mind, he knew that no matter how far he went, he wouldn’t be able escape his feelings for Sable. He would try his best to forget about her and to focus on his mission. Easier said than done but he was bloody well going to try.
Resolutely, he grabbed his luggage and left his flat. On his way to the elevator, he bumped into his neighbor, Mr. Mills, a widower in his mid-fifties. He was returning from the gym. He hardly took the elevator. “Hello, Layne,” he greeted him jovially.
“Hello, Mr. Mills.”
The man’s eyes dropped to Layne’s luggage. “Where are you off to?”
“Michigan and then, South Africa.”
“Yes. I’m going on a month long mission trip.”
“Hmm. Good for you. Well, have a safe trip and I expect to hear all about it when you return.”
Layne smiled. “Yes, Mr. Mills. Goodbye.”
“Goodbye, Layne.” What a nice young chap, he thought as he headed to his flat. If only my Dorothea wasn’t already married to that good for nothing bloke…
The elevator came and Layne was thankful that it was empty. He didn’t want to run into anyone else. When he emerged from the building, he spotted his father leaning against his convertible. It was really going to be just the two of them. Forcing a smile, he went over to him. “Hello, Dad.”
“Hello, Son.” They hugged and them, his father took the luggage and put it on the back seat. “Get in. I thought it would be nice if I were to drive you to the airport myself. You’ve never been in my convertible, have you?”
Layne shook his head as he opened the door. “No, I haven’t. How long have you had it?”
“A couple of months now. It’s a beauty, isn’t it?”
“Sable refuses to ride in it. She hates convertibles. She worries that bird poop will fall on her when we stop at intersections under powerlines where birds are. And she worries that it will suddenly rain and she’d get soaked before the top goes up. And she doesn’t like having her hair blowing about. So, after riding in it once, she refuses to ride in it again. I don’t think your mother would have minded at all. Anyway, let’s get going. I wouldn’t want you to be late getting to Heathrow.”
They both got into the convertible and soon they were heading for Heathrow. “What made you decide to go on a mission trip, Son?”
“It’s something I’ve always thought about and this seemed to be a good time to do it.”
“Which part of South Africa will you be going to?”
“I’ve never been to Cape Town myself but I’ve heard that it’s one of South Africa’s most beautiful cities with beaches, fauna, flora and the famous Table Mountain. I hope you will have time to go sightseeing.”
“I’m sure I will.”
“You mentioned going to Michigan first. Why do you have to go there?”
“Each IMMERSION trip begins with a time of training, team building and personal reflection near Grand Rapids. The training would take several days. That’s why I booked off more than a month’s vacation. The mission work itself is for one month.”
“I hope you will be in touch with Sable and me. We would love to see photos of you, the place and the people as well.”
“Don’t worry, Dad. I will be in touch and will send lots of photos.”
“Good. So, how are things with that real estate woman and you?”
“They’re fine.” He didn’t bother to tell his father that Olivia and he were just friends.
“I bet she was sorry to hear that you would be gone for a while.”
“Yes, she was but she was very supportive.”
“So are Sable and I. I think doing mission work especially in places where it is most needed is admirable. That’s why I’m a philanthropist. I enjoy helping others. It’s the Christian thing to do. Your mother would have been very proud of you. She was always helping people, especially, the homeless and the poor. She was an angel.”
Layne glanced at him. “Do you miss her?”
“Yes. I do. I visit her gravesite every month.”
“If she were still alive, you and Sable wouldn’t be married, would you?”
“No. If your mother was still alive, we would still be happily married.”
“We were very happy, weren’t we, the three of us?”
“Yes, we were.”
For a while, they didn’t say anything. Then, Layne told him what he was going to do in Cape Town.
Moments later, as they were approaching Heathrow. “Dad, you can save yourself £5 by dropping me off at the Long Stay car park, where passengers can take a free bus transfer to the terminal.”
“I don’t mind paying the £5.”
“No, Dad. I’d rather you didn’t. I’ll take the free bus transfer to the terminal.”
“All right, Son.”
They drove to the Long Stay parking. At the entry barrier Mr. Wharton’s registration was recognized and a ticket was printed showing his registration and Booking Reference. When the barrier opened, they proceeded to the zone indicated. Once parked, while his father unloaded his luggage, Layne used one of the intercom points at the bus stops to request a pick-up.
“Thanks for the lift, Dad.”
“You’re welcome, Son. I’m glad we had the time we spent together.”
“I’m going to miss you.”
“I’m going to miss you too.”
“I know this sounds selfish but, I’m glad you won’t be gone for too long.”
Layne smiled. “In no time, I’ll be back.”
“Call me as soon as you get to Michigan and again when you arrive in Cape Town so that I know that you’re all right.”
“Sable wanted to come but she had a headache. That’s the other reason why I have the convertible.”
Layne lowered his eyes. “I hope she feels better.” He knew why Sable didn’t–couldn’t come. It had nothing to do with a headache.
“I’m sure she be rid of that headache in no time.”
Layne looked at him. “Dad, I need to talk to you as soon as I get back.”
“Sure, Son. Come by the mansion as soon–“
“No, Dad. Not at the mansion. At my flat.”
“All right. At your flat, then.”
“I’ll call you and we’ll arrange a convenient time for both of us.”
“All right, Son.”
Mr. Wharton waited with him by the bus stop until the bus came. They hugged and then, Layne got on the bus.
Sources: Thrillist; Experience Mission; Heathrow