Jonah was standing alone at the foot of the checkout line when Derrick approached him. He did not smile upon seeing his brother for the first time in three years. Jonah gave little of himself away. He had the same placid expression he always carried, but his eyes did light up.
“Hey bro, I’m back!” Derrick gave his brother a quick hug.
Jonah did not know how to react. Derrick had never hugged him before. It confused him.
“It’s been a long time.” Derrick tried to express sincerity. “I’ve done a lot of thinking bro. I’ve had the time to do it. I just want you to know that I’m sorry if I was ever mean to you. I don’t know who that guy was. I’ve changed. I’m a new man. I came to tell you that I’m here for you.”
“You don’t say much. That hasn’t changed. How are you doing?”
“I hear you're doing great! You got a job. Everybody likes you. You’re married and you have a kid.” He grabbed Jonah’s fingers firmly. “Look, you have a ring on your finger!”
Jonah pulled back his hand. “It’s nice, bro! Is it gold?”
“I don’t know.”
“It looks like gold to me.” Jonah was becoming anxious. Derrick decided to wrap things up. “I know you’re working and I don’t want to take up too much of your time it’s just that I want us to be a family again. I’m staying with mom. You should come for a visit. I’m sure she’d like to see you.”
“I should come over to your house too. I’d love to see my niece.”
Jonah felt all the air sucked out of his body. He did not make a sound and there was an awkward silence between the two.
Derrick laughed it off. “We’ll do that sometime. Nice to see you, bro. You haven’t changed a bit.”
With that, Derrick was gone. Jonah did not know what to make of the encounter. In some part of his mind though there may have been a glimmer of optimism.