There was Toby, my first love.
My best friend of five years – turned lovers on the sixth, broke up when he was called to inherit a percentage of his father’s wealth. We parted amicably and without grievances. We communicated once in a month. Gradually he stopped returning my calls or chats and in about a year our good friendship hit the rocks.
I haven’t been able to get Toby off my mind or start any intimate relationship with anyone. I was surprised when out of blue, he contacted me asking to come see him. I didn’t want to go but I got another message from his sister pleading to honor their family and give one last respect to her brother’s request.
Toby was the first person I saw as soon as I alighted from the train. It took me few seconds to register his new look. His skin was pale, hair well trimmed and dressed really casual in a black jean and T-shirt. I approached him and shook hands but he gave me a full hug burying his face in the nook of my neck. He felt warm. He took a deep breath.
“Toby.” I said.
Toby gave me his Audi car keys. He put on the navigation and we drove home. He was withdrawn throughout the ride and I wondered why. He had wanted to see me and now he’s all quiet and refused to say anything to me.
We arrived at their countryside home. It had been renovated to a modern standard and the new design was beautiful.
“Ken…” Toby’s sister Emma waved at me. “Welcome… You look good.”
“Thank you.” I replied. Emma was all grown up now. She should be eighteen years old. I recalled those days when we were kids and we played together in the rain. “What about mommy?” I asked.
“She is fine. She’s at work,” Emma replied. She walked towards her brother and rubbed her hands on his back. “Toby are you okay?”
“Yes don’t worry. Ken drove us back home.”
“Ohh…” Emma felt relieved hearing that I drove the car. “Thank you Ken.”
Toby took my hands and led me to a small guest home a stone throw away from the house. It was simple and cozy. Toby must have built it for his comfort only.
A fresh meal was already set on the small dining table. Toby quickly dished out boiled rice in a small plate. There were other side dishes of roast beef, vegetables and carrots. I wasn’t too comfortable watching him do that for me.
“Toby,” I said. I placed my hand on his.
“It’s fine Ken. Please eat,” he requested.
I reluctantly picked the spoon while watching his facial expressions. He stood aside watching as if to make sure the food passed my throat. Once I scooped some rice into my mouth he bowed slightly and went inside a room adjacent to the dining area.
I must have eaten half way when he came out and joined me. His aura was a bit different.
“How’s the meal?”
“Nice.” I blurted out.
Toby didn’t eat much. He played around with the spoon.
A tap on the door was an excuse to leave the table. He trudged to the door.
I heard a kid’s voice. I turned from the table and saw a little boy run into Toby’s arms.
That was the first time Toby actually smiled. It was that same rare genuine smile he shared with me during intimate moments years ago.
“Norman meet Uncle Ken.”
Norman glared at me. “Is he the same uncle Ken you told me about?”
“Hi, uncle Ken,” Norman smiled.
“Hello Norman,” I shook his little warm hand. Norman wriggled out of Toby’s arms and ran across the small sitting room to play with his toys.
Norman was a cute boy of about eight years. The fact that he called Toby ‘daddy’ was new.
“You have a son?”