Victoria tried to swallow but her mouth was devoid of moisture. Her palms by comparison were puddles. She wiped her hands down the side of her thighs.
She saw Lucas Munch walking toward them and grabbed Rickard’s hand.
“Oww Momma!” the small boy complained.
“Ooops, sorry Baby,” Victoria loosened her hold but did not let go of Rickard’s hand. It was as if by holding onto her child she could keep this meeting from happening.
“Is that him?” Rickard stood on tiptoe to see the blonde youth striding toward them with a grin on his face.
“Hey Kid!” Lucas said with a smile and ruffled Rickard’s hair. “I’m your Uncle Lucas!”
Rickard giggled and to Lucas’ surprise the little boy hugged the teen around the waist.
“Did you tell him about Wolfgang and my Mom?” Lucas returned the boy’s hug but talked to Victoria over top of his head.
Victoria nodded stiffly.
“Come on Kid, let’s go get some space monsters!”
Lucas began walking toward the play ground equipment. Rickard grabbed his Uncle’s hand. Victoria saw the delighted look on her son’s face and not for the first time felt the sharp pang of guilt that she had hidden her son from Wolfgang’s family for five years. More than that, she hid them from him.
“He’s such a wonderful boy,” Mila looked fondly at her grandson. “You have done an excellent job with him my dear.”
“Thank you,” Victoria said softly with her eyes on Rickard. She smiled with pride. She had agreed to meet Mila and Lucas at the park today. Josef and Sophie had come too for support. Mila had met Rickard calmly, though with great warmth. Victoria could see her holding back the tears upon meeting her first grandchild.
“I was wrong you know,” Mila said softly. “I shouldn’t have listened to Wolfgang. He’s changed in there. He’s grown so dark. You could have kept him in the light I think. I’m sorry Victoria.”
“I’m the one who should apologize!” Victoria’s eyes searched Mila’s for signs of anger and found none. “I kept him from you!” she gestured at her son.
“I shouldn’t have, it was wrong. I was just so hurt. So angry. I couldn’t focus on what was best for you, or Rickard and especially not Wolfgang. I only thought of myself and how hurt I was that Wolfgang wouldn’t try. He didn’t fight for us.” Victoria’s tears began to fall.
Mila reached out and took Victoria’s hand. “Obviously I cannot make you take Rickard there to see him, but I feel he needs to know about his son. I believe you need to tell Wolfgang about Rickard. Wolfgang is in a very dark place in prison and has been almost since the beginning. He doesn’t see any reason to fight for anything. Maybe if he saw you and Rickard he would understand that there is a life for him once he’s released,” Mila held up her hands as if she wanted to shake Wolfgang.
“How will I get him to see me if I were to decide to go?” Victoria asked wiping her tears away. “He told me he would refuse my visits back when the trial ended.”
“We just won’t tell him you’re coming. You’ll just be there on one of my visits. You just think about what you’re going to say when you see him.”
Victoria nodded. “I’ll think about it,” she promised.
“Grandmother! Momma, watch this!” Rickard hung off the play set like a space walker.
“I see you Rickard!” Mila called and waved. Tears sparkled in her eyes but did not fall.
Wolfgang walked out to the prison visiting area.
Victoria’s breath caught when she saw him. He was thinner and he had aged a bit too, but not badly. Victoria saw him hug his mother. He hadn’t noticed her sitting separately yet.
She glanced at Rickard playing with the children’s toys nearby.
Families were milling about visiting and chatting. A few were arguing softly. Most were just looking uncomfortable. Shame was visible on some of the prisoners faces, guilt and even anger in some cases on the visitor’s faces.
‘Man up,’ she told her self giving herself a mental shake. ‘He cannot hurt you much more by walking away today than he did all those years ago at the jail.’
Victoria stood up and walked over to where Mila was talking to Wolfgang.
“Hi you,” Victoria said softly.