“Lily, please put your shoes on. Oscar, grab your lunch. We’re going to be late!” I’m waiting by the open front door with my keys in my hand and my patience running thin. But I’m momentarily distracted by the sound of a car close by, and when I turn to look at the street, there’s a big, blue Jeep pulling up next to my small Honda Accord. I’m immediately alarmed, especially after Tim’s warning. He told me that his security guy would come last night, but he never did. Not a great sign for a security guy. With that thought, I hastily bolt back into my house and lock all the doors.
I need to call 911. As I dig through my purse, there is a knock on my door, which I ignore. I’m still frantically searching for my phone when it suddenly rings.
“Oh God, Tim. Call the police, there’s a stranger parked in my driveway!” I’m not a hysterical person, but the conversation with Tim yesterday and a visitor this early in the morning has me on edge.
“It’s okay. Open the door. It’s your new security detail. The one we spoke about. He just sent me a text that he’s outside your house.”
“Now? Jesus. I almost had a heart attack. He was supposed to start last night. He’s very late. Maybe he’s not really the best, Tim.” I know I’m being snarky, but I’m annoyed that this guy is here now, at this time, when I’m rushing to get my kids to school and myself to work.
“He did start last night,” Tim says. “I’m walking into court, gotta go. Let him in. He’s waiting.”
He did? No, he didn’t. No one came over last night.
I’m already going to be late dropping off the kids at school, and this is just stressing me out more. “Lily and Oscar, let’s hurry it up!” I yell, as I unlock the deadbolt.
As soon as the door swings open, my kids run out, almost knocking me down in the process. Luckily, strong arms reach out and straighten me before I tumble forward. “Damn it, Lily would you be care—” The words catch in my throat when I look up at the person standing in front of me, holding me upright.
“Hey,” he says, in a thick and throaty way that sounds more like an exhale. My eyes are wide and my mouth is hanging open. Hey?
“Mom!” Lily yells from the car. “We’re going to be late.”
“I—uh…” Our eyes are still locked. “Iggy?”
He smiles. I remember that smile. That smile lit up my world at one point in time. “It’s me.”
“Mom!” This time both Oscar and Lily are yelling, and I’m pulled out of the trance.
“Shoot. I have to…to—” I point toward the car. Words are not forming. I’m a jumbled mess.
“Take ’em to school?” he finishes my sentence.
“Yes.” I clear my throat. “School. Take them.”
He chuckles at my idiotic words. I sound like Yoda, Jesus Christ. “Keys.” He holds up his palm. I look at his hands, then back up at him in confusion. “Abby, keys. I’m driving.”
“Abby, snap out of it. Let’s go drop off your kids and then we’ll talk. But I need the keys to do that.”
I shake my head, trying to get the cobwebs out. “No.” I look at my watch. “Shit. We’re late.” I jog down the steps to the car. “Are you the guy Tim hired?” I say over my shoulder.
“Sure am,” he replies, as I get in my car.
“Who’s that, Mom?” Oscar asks while I put on my seatbelt.
“An old friend. His name is Iggy—Charlie…” Just as I say that, he’s sliding into the passenger seat. Does he still go by Iggy?
I’m immediately transported to the day I met him when I couldn’t say his name and all that I could spit out was Iggy. I was mortified, yet he accepted it, and, from that day forth, everyone came to know him as Iggy.
“Iggy,” he corrects me, his body turned toward the backseat where the kids are sitting. “My name’s Iggy. That’s what all my friends call me. You must be Liliana and you must be Oscar.”
“Lily,” my daughter says.
“Lily, right.” He grins at her, then turns back to the front and buckles up. We sit in my driveway for a few long moments. “Abby, we gotta move.”
Again, I’m jolted to reality and start to drive.
You know how when you’re underwater you can hear voices talking but you can’t make out what is being said? Well, that’s how I feel right now.
“How do you know my mom?” Oscar asks.
“We went to school together,” Iggy responds.
“How come I’ve never seen you before?” This time it’s Lily.
“I’ve been out of town.”
“In Ohio?” Lily asks. “I used to live in Ohio.”
“You lived there for six months when you were born. It’s not like you remember anything,” Oscar says, snarkily.
“Whatever!” Lily snaps with major attitude, and the two bicker about what Lily could possibly remember at six-months-old. Iggy chuckles and turns to me. “They’re great, Abby.” He turns back to the kids. “No. Not in Ohio. I’ve been in the Army.”
“So cool!” Oscar says, excitedly, and Iggy smiles.
It is such a sincere smile, something I remember him always having. From the first moment he spoke to me up until now, twenty years later, those dimples, that smile… They’re exactly the same. My world completely turns on its axis.
Shit. Iggy’s back.
His dark eyes are intense. They used to bring me warmth and make me feel safe, but now I feel like I’m staring at a stranger. Yet, also, someone who I know deep in my soul.