Shana sat nervously in the booth, while Larry ordered from the bar. He was getting a couple orange sodas and some food. Her dad was getting a burger. He said they were the best in time. Shana wanted pretzel bites with jalapeno cheese. She wasn’t hungry, but she wanted something to do to pass the time, while they waited for her Bert to show up. Larry wanted to be here ahead of schedule to give Shana time to relax, he said. She wanted this over with. Larry was her dad, not this Bert guy.
She rolled her eyes and sighed. That wasn’t really fair, and she knew it. It was all so weird though and juts getting weirder. If this meeting went well, she would be going to visit for a week. A week away from Larry. Shana looked to her dad, and saw he was coming over with the drinks. He sat down across from her and smiled as she took the glass.
She took a large gulp then looked to Larry as she smacked her lips. “Do they even have orange soda in his time?”
“I don’t know, hon, but you can ask him when he gets here.”
“Dad, what if I don’t like him?”
“Then you don’t like him, but you have to give him a chance. He’s your biological father.”
“If I decide to go with him, what are you going to tell everyone?”
“You don’t have parents listed on your birth certificate. If I say your birth father found you and wants you back, no one can dispute that. Also, he is your biological father. If they run DNA tests, it’ll prove he’s your dad.”
“What am I supposed to say to my friends? Where should I say he lives? With social media and the internet, it’s hard for people to hide.”
“Say he’s not from the U.S. Or say he was a missionary and was lost for a long time because of a head injury. That at least is part of the truth.”
He reached out and placed his hands on hers. “Shana. You’re nervous. Understandably so. Take a deep breath. Calm down a bit and wait until you meet him.” He looked away and laughed as something occurred to him. He looked back at Shana. “I almost hate to say this, but you are going to have a ton more questions when you meet him.”
She rolled her eyes, took her hands away and hid her face. “God! This sucks.” She looked up. “I mean, sort of.” She leaned her head back. “I don’t know what I mean.”
“Sweetie, I can’t image what you are going through, but I’m here, no matter what.”
She looked to her dad. “I guess that’s the problem. I’m so used to you being there for me. If I go off to be with Bert, I won’t have you anymore.”
Tears started in his eyes. “You’ll have me. If you decide to stay with your biological father, we can still meet here every week. You can tell me about your week and I can tell you about mine. We may not end up in the same time, but I will be here for you. Always.”
Shana slipped out of the booth and joined her dad on his side. She kissed his cheek. “Thanks, dad.”
He kissed the top of her head and slipped an arm around her waist. “Thank you.”
They stayed that way for a few moments until the door opened. Larry craned his neck around to see Bert walking into the bar. Larry looked to Shana.
Shana moved out of the booth and stood. She looked to the door and watched as Bert drew near. There was happy surprise in his eyes. He walked quicker and stopped in front of Shana. He nodded to Larry, then looked back to his daughter.
“Shana. You look so much like your mother.”
She looked at him and stuck her hand out to shake his. “Hi.”
Bert gave an odd smile, but took her hand. “Hello, Shana. I’m Bert.”
They shook hands and Shana pulled away quickly. She sat by Larry and grabbed her orange soda from the other side of the table. “I’m going to sit with Larry. You can sit on that side.”
“All right.” Bert did as asked. When Mort came over, Bert ordered his usual, raspberry wine.
Bert looked to Shana. “I have a lot of questions and I’m sure you have some, too.”
“Do they have orange soda in your time?”
“Yes, but I’m sure it tastes different. May I?” He indicated her glass.
Shana looked at him, then at her glass. She shrugged and slid it over. Bert took a small sip and slid the glass back over.
“That one is much sweeter, but it’s not bad.”
She leaned back in the booth. “I don’t know what to say to you. Dad said you had amnesia. That’s why you didn’t get me sooner, but why didn’t you fight for my mom and you to be able to be together?”
Bert sighed. “Because I wasn’t that strong. I did as told most of my life, Shana. I hope Larry has taught you to stick up for yourself.”
“He taught me a lot of things.” There was defiance in her eyes, and Bert felt it was more toward him than anything else.
Bert sighed again. “Shana, once I remembered who you were, I did everything I could to get better so I could come looking for you. If I could have come sooner, I would have. I know we lost time, but I’m here now. There is no way I can answer all your questions tonight and there is no way you can answer all my questions tonight. That’s why I wanted you to come with me to visit.”
“But I don’t know if I want to go. If I go and hate it within hours, will you bring me back here?”
Bert frowned. “Of course, I would. Shana, you’re not a prisoner. You’re my daughter. I want you to experience my time. You should have been born and raised there.” He leaned forward. “Please Shana. Give me a chance.”
She crossed her arms. “I’ll think about it. Spring Break isn’t for a little bit.” She turned to Larry. “I want to go home now, dad.”
Larry looked to Shana, then to Bert. Larry had a helpless look on his face. Bert nodded minutely. Larry turned back to Shana. “All right. I already paid for the drinks. We can go.”
She nodded, and practically ran to the door. Larry turned to Bert.
“One week. I’ll bring her back in one week. We should keep having the two of you meet.”
Bert looked at Larry gratefully. “Thank you.”
Larry nodded then left to take his daughter home.