I didn’t add any additional words from a random word generator this time. I already had enough inspiration about what I wanted to do with the scene.
Garrett turned to Henry. “Why don’t you go next?”
Henry shook his head. “Go on. You’ve got kids. Don’t keep them waiting.”
True enough. Even though Garrett’s oldest, Grant, would be in college now, he would still be home for the winter break. They were all likely to be home waiting for his call.
As much as both Garrett and Henry were each uneasy, worrying about the status of their respective marriages, torn between dreading and wanting to know, he had no such worries about seeing his children. Not beyond the pangs that had dogged him during his darkest moments over their five years on the island. Fears of bad things happening—illness, accidents—with Garrett completely in the dark about the personal horrors his family might have faced.
Most likely, they were all healthy, so he pushed that worry away and stood. “I won’t linger. Sam will be anxious to hear from you, too.”
He turned and followed Jonathan to a private room where Jonathan picked up an iPad. “You want to make a voice call or a video call?”
The only number on the slip of paper he’d been given was a mobile number he still remembered. “Sarah—my wife—is probably still using an iPhone. I’d like to try Facetime if that’s all right.” He trembled, thinking of seeing them all again in person. He wanted to hug each of them and never let them go—the opposite of his often-reserved behavior in the past. Facetime paled in comparison, but he wouldn’t pass on the opportunity to at least see their faces as well as hear their voices.
“Absolutely.” Jonathan swiped and selected an app, then handed the tablet to Garrett. “I’ll be down the hall with the others if you have any problems.”
“Thank you.” He sat and took a deep breath, positioned the screen to frame his over-tanned face and scraggly hair, and dialed.
Within seconds, Sarah’s face materialized on the screen. Her free hand moved to cover her mouth when she saw him. No doubt his appearance was shocking even with the photos she’d have seen by now. Before the plane crash he’d always been a well-groomed professional. He was probably barely recognizable in his current state.
Her eyes glistened with unshed tears—or perhaps the remains of previously shed tears, judging by the red puffiness surrounding them. Whatever her current married state, the news of his survival would have been staggering and would dredge up all manner of emotions.
“Sarah.” He recognized the setting. She was in the dining room of the home they’d shared. His breath caught. Could that be a sign that she hadn’t remarried? It didn’t rule it out, but…that was her left hand covering her mouth, and it was ring-less. He grinned as the apprehension that had tightened his muscles drained away.
“Oh, Garrett.” She voice wobbled, and she turned her gaze off-camera. “Come around here, kids, so you can see.”
Likely she’d been expecting a voice call, and they’d assembled around the table, planning to put it on speaker.
Michaela’s face was the first that came into view. Her expression morphed quickly from wary, to startled, to cheery. “Dad! Oh my God! It really is you!”
Garrett choked up. “Michaela.” She was so grown up now—a teenager. There was so much he wanted to know. Was she still taking dance lessons? Did she still sing in the shower, and conveniently “forget” to bring the lunches Sarah packed, then buy the school’s offerings instead? Had she followed through with her plans to try out for that intramural soccer team? Instead he settled for saying, “I thought about you every day.”
Her face scrunched. “I missed you, Daddy.”
Grant and Evan came into view. They did a better job guarding their expressions.
“Wow.” Evan grinned. “You’ve…ah…changed, Dad.”
Garrett laughed. Evan always did have a sense of humor, and it was no surprise it was slipping in to cover his emotions. A tear slid down Garrett’s face. “So have you.” He shook his head. “There were days I thought I’d never see all of you again. I can hardly believe it’s over.”
“I don’t even know what to say,” Grant said. “Except I love you and missed you.”
Evan nodded. “How’d you do it? How’d you survive on that little island?”
“I love you guys, too.” Garrett took a shuddering breath. “Well, we all played a part. Devon was toolmaker and fisherman, Henry collected the rest of our food and prepared it, and I was the resident weaver. I made our safety ropes, fishing nets, sun hats, walls for our shelter. That kind of thing.”
“He’s like Superman,” A small voice, off camera said.
A child? His brow creased. Maybe Sarah had remarried after all. But no…he relaxed again, remembering the ring-less hand. Even if she had, the man was out of the picture now. A corner of his mouth turned up. Having a young child at home might help ease the sting of losing Buddy.
“More like Batman,” Michaela said. “Since he doesn’t have actual superpowers, he just had stuff to help him.”
“No,” Evan said. “He’s MacGyver. He didn’t have fancy gadgets, he figured stuff out to make his own.”
“Oh, right,” Michaela said.
Garrett grinned at their banter. Mostly he was just a regular guy who’d done what he could to contribute to their survival and comfort.
Sarah beckoned off screen, “It’s okay. Come on.”
A young boy climbed onto Sarah’s lap and warily eyed the phone. Sarah smiled. “Garrett, I’d like you to meet Garrett, Jr. I was going to tell you about him in Fiji.”
Garrett’s hand flew to his neck in a manner reminiscent of the “pearl clutch” Henry had often executed, much to Devon’s amusement. Never in his wildest dreams had he imagined this scenario. He’d pictured himself losing his family, not adding to it. He choked out, “He’s…mine?” around the lump in his throat.
Sarah nodded, “He’s yours. We’ll be waiting for you in Hawaii. You can start getting to know each other then.”
“I already know he’s a fan of superheroes.” Garrett chuckled and turned his gaze to look at each of his older three children. “And I look forward to getting to know the young men and woman you’ve each grown into. I’m sure a lot has changed in five years.”
For some reason, Grant and Michaela both cast a glance at Evan, who noticed and promptly blushed.
“Whatever it is,” Garrett said. “It’s fine.”
Evan didn’t say anything, but put up a stubborn chin, mirroring Sarah’s. Clearly there was something they thought he might have an adverse opinion on.
“Don’t worry. I’ve had a lot of time to think about my life on that island. I’m a much more relaxed person than the dad you remember from five years ago. I don’t care if you want to become an artist, a musician, or aspire to be the best waiter the local truck stop ever hired. I just want you to be happy.”
Evan’s lips quirked up. “I’m gonna major in accounting.”
Garrett paused. But something was worrying his son, and he didn’t want him stressing about it between now and Hawaii. He tilted his head and smiled reassuringly. “Wonderful. And if you and your boyfriend want to be drag queens in your free time, I’m chill with that, too.”
Grant and Michaela snickered. Sarah’s smile was wide, and Evan coughed and sputtered into his hand. When he recovered, he grinned at Garrett. “Good to know. We…ah…don’t have any immediate plans to become drag queens, though.”
“Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” Garrett winked.
“No, there’s not,” Sarah agreed.
A noise in the hall outside his room brought Garrett back to earth. “Sorry, but we have to stagger our calls, and Henry still needs to make his.”
“Of course,” Sarah said. “So, we won’t hear from you again before we see you in Hawaii?”
“Probably not. We’ll transfer to that coast guard cutter tomorrow. Military security and all, so I doubt there’s any communication outside of their radio operators.
Sarah nodded. “Love you.”
The kids all nodded and there was a chorus of “Love you, Dad” from the older kids, while Garrett, Jr. stared.
“Love you all,” Garrett said. “Garrett, if you’d like, you can help me make you your very own straw hat when I get home.”
That got a tentative smile out of the little boy. He whispered, “Okay.”
Garrett blew a kiss, said, “Goodbye,” and signed off.
His head flopped back, and he stared at the ceiling. He wanted to think he would have reacted well to Evan’s revelation even before spending five years on a small island with a gay man, but he wasn’t sure.
“I guess it doesn’t matter anymore,” he muttered.
He straightened his shoulders and returned to the where the others waited. He smiled in reply to the raised brows they directed at him, silently inquiring. “Sarah never remarried, and I have one more child than I thought I had.”
“Dude!” Devon exclaimed.
“That’s fantastic. Congratulations!” Henry stood and gave him a hug. “Here’s hoping my luck is even half as good as yours.”
Henry and Sam Miller-Greene are living the dream. They love their careers — which afford each of them opportunities to travel to exotic locations — they love their home, Sam’s caring family, and each other. They disagree on the subject of adoption, but are fully committed to each other in marriage … ’Til Death Do Us Part.
The dream is shattered when Henry’s plane crashes, and he’s presumed dead. But four people — Henry, two other men, and a child — survive undetected on a remote, small, and insignificant island. Will Sam and Henry’s love be able to survive as well?
Henry fights to endure in harsh conditions, never knowing when disaster will strike. Sam struggles with his loss, but with help moves on with his life. Will Sam be able to put aside his new love when he reunites with Henry?