So close! (That’s life)

Nearly there!

Sarah couldn’t wait to be home… seven long months away, needs must and all that, but now, heading home.

 As the landscape became more familiar, Sarah began to notice small changes… a pruned farm hedge, a new crop, the old Williams place has been painted. That’s one of the delights of course, everything’s the same, but different.

 Sarah hadn’t meant to be away so long. A two-month assignment had grown bigger than any of them could ever have imagined. The satisfaction of putting away a real bad egg was tempered by the hours, and the strain of isolation in a different country, away from everything and everyone she knew.

 But now, at last, heading home. Her own bed, books, friends, and, best of all, the garden, the birdsong, the view… how she’s missed it all. Amazingly, time at last to indulge in her real passion, family research. Maybe this time she’ll be able to dismantle the roadblocks.

 Thirty minutes and she’ll be there!

 Up ahead, flashing lights. Sarah groaned. Not now, not today.

 She slowed, came to a halt by the lollipop man. He was talking into his radio, laughed, looked at Sarah, shook his head. He turned away from her, scanning ahead.

Sarah drummed her fingers impatiently. So close, so close to home. She could almost smell the sea air, hear the tui and bellbirds calling her home.

 Almost instinctively, she studied the lollipop man. The paunch of too many beers, the grey of summers achieved, his wrinkles, his tattoo, his… hold up! That tattoo.

 Sarah felt the shock of recognition. The tattoo design she’d first viewed in the office only yesterday, on an old photograph from all those years ago. Details were sketchy, but she just knew he was her next target.

 Her hands on the steering wheel sweated. She was terrified he would work out who she was, right there. She just wasn’t prepared, not now.

 So close! He was less than 20 feet away, and she could do nothing. Alone on a country road, just him and her.

 The sheer frustration of it all. Nearly home, now this.

Right man, wrong time.

She just wanted home.

 She was in his power. The lollipop man had control of her life; she couldn’t go forward, couldn’t turn around, couldn’t continue on her path. He held her in his stop/go sign.

 His radio crackled into life. He turned, walked over to her car, drivers’ side, tapped on her window.

 She let it down just an inch; enough to talk through, not enough for a hand. She didn’t meet his eyes.

 “On you go, girl, slow”

 Breathing deeply, Sarah nodded, not trusting her voice, and let the car ease on.

 Looking back in the rear-view mirror, she saw him, the lollipop man, her long-lost father, talking into his radio.

 With a sigh, she drove on home.

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