Miriam’s husband, Henry, disappeared when their daughter, Sophie, was only a few months old. Years later, she got home from school to discover an envelope of cash at their doorstep. It also had a message asking to meet at a café. Sophie was hesitant, but Miriam had to know if it was him.
“Mom! Mom! Look!” Sophie came into the house yelling for her mother. Miriam wiped her hands with a dish towel and turned around as her daughter entered the kitchen. The teenager was holding a huge envelope, and she could see the wads of cash inside.
“What is this, Sophie? Where did you get it?” the older woman asked in concern.
“It was right under the door. I had trouble getting inside, Mom. But the money is not the most important issue. Look,” the girl added and showed her mother the note inside the envelope. It contained a short but shocking message:
Meet me at the café, Henry
Miriam’s eyes widened. This was not possible. Her husband, Henry, disappeared around 16 years ago when Sophie was just a baby. Miriam never knew what happened, and the police of their town in Texas never gave them answers. They understood that Henry was most likely dead by now and would never return home.
But now, they were facing the possibility that he was alive. “What does this mean, Mom?” Sophie questioned worriedly.
“I don’t know, sweetheart. I’ll have to see,” Miriam replied, but Sophie started shaking her head vehemently.
“No! Absolutely not! You can’t go to the café. It’s dangerous! What if something bad happened to Dad back then, and these are the same people?” she warned.
There was only one man inside the café. | Source: Pexels
Miriam thought about it for several moments and realized that her daughter was right. Whatever made Henry disappear all those years ago might be dangerous. But he might also be there with a simple explanation.
“You’re right, sweetie. But we have to know if this is your father’s message. Let’s go together, and you stay in the car. If you see something strange, you call 911 immediately. How does that sound?” Miriam suggested, and her daughter finally agreed.
“Alright. You call 911 if you see me in distress. But don’t come inside,” Miriam said to Sophie right outside the café. They were both worried, and Sophie didn’t have hopes that her father would be there at all. But Miriam had never lost hope that Henry might reappear one day to tell them the truth.
She got out of the car and entered the small café. It was surprisingly empty for this time of day, but she saw a man sitting at one table. She approached him and uttered a small, “Henry?”
It was Henry. | Source: Pexels
The man looked up at her, and it was him. Years have withered his face, but it was her Henry, and she realized right then her love had never dwindled. However, she wasn’t stupid. He obviously did something wrong or just disappeared from their lives because he wanted to, leaving her to care for three children on her own. Poor Sophie grew up never knowing her father.
Finally, the man spoke up. “Miriam! Oh god, Miriam, it’s you!” he said and rose as if to get a hug. But she recoiled, not knowing this man anymore.
“Henry, so it is you,” she muttered sarcastically, sitting down opposite him at the table. “You went out for a short walk years ago and never returned. Did you forget your address?”
Henry sat back down and looked pleadingly at his wife. “No, Miriam. But I swear. All I did was try to protect you and our family. I had to disappear from your lives for good.”
Miriam frowned. She didn’t understand what he was saying. Protect us from what? We were a regular American family until he left, she thought to herself. “What do you mean?”
Miriam told him to cut to the chase. | Source: Pexels
“I had to go or they would hurt you,” Henry continued.
“Just tell me exactly what happened because you’re not making any sense,” she demanded.
“I was a gambler. I know you didn’t know. But I gambled on anything and everything back then. I was in serious trouble at one point and borrowed money from a horrible person,” Henry started.
“Dear God,” Miriam breathed.
“Yeah. I’m so sorry, Miriam. It was the worst mistake of my life. I didn’t have the money when they came to collect. But the man liked me for some reason. He told me to marry his daughter, and the debt would be forgiven,” Henry continued the shocking story, and Miriam’s eyebrows raised in surprise.
“You were married already,” she added.
“Yes, but they knew people, important people who could get you documents. They annulled our marriage, and I had to marry his daughter to protect you. He said, ‘We can do this the easy way or the hard way. Marry my daughter willingly or we kill your whole family.’” Henry finished, placing his hands on the table, hoping desperately that Miriam would understand.
He thought about Sophie every day. | Source: Pexels
“Jesus Christ! Are you serious? And why are you here now? Sophie is in the car! This is dangerous!” Miriam began to worry.
“No! It’s not serious anymore. The man and his horrible daughter died. I hated them so much but had to pretend. And luckily, she couldn’t get pregnant all these years. That’s what they wanted most. An heir to their empire or something. But now, I’m the only heir,” Henry continued.
“Does that mean your some sort of a loan shark lord now?” Miriam wondered.
“No, I dismantled the operations, and his cronies left to work with others. Now I’m back to being just me. Finally,” he revealed. “That’s why I reached out. I have years to make up for, and tons of money to do it now. How are you?”
“Well, we’re mostly ok. It was hard, but we managed,” Miriam began, hesitant to tell him anything. She still didn’t believe his story. It sounded too crazy, like something from a movie. “All the kids are fine too.”
“That’s good. That’s good. You said Sophie is in the car. I’ve missed her so much. She was just a baby, but I thought of her every second I was away,” he added. “Please, Miriam. Would you let me make up for lost time?”
She let Henry make amends with his kids and also let him back into her heart. | Source: Pexels
Miriam hesitated again. “Look, I still don’t buy your story. It’s crazy. But you’re their father, and I know they’ve missed you. So as long as it’s 100% safe for them, you can reach out. I’ll introduce you to Sophie right now. But I don’t know what this means for us, alright?”
“That’s reasonable! I have to earn their forgiveness and yours,” Henry responded with a small smile as Miriam got up to signal for Sophie to come inside.
Over the next few months, Henry was there, making amends, seeing his grown children, and trying to be the father he couldn’t be before. He also deposited a large amount of money to Miriam, calling it “the child support I should’ve given.”
Eventually, Miriam couldn’t dismiss her feelings anymore, and they started their relationship again. But she made him promise never to lie again. “Don’t worry. I don’t lie. I haven’t gambled since then, and I won’t do anything to jeopardize my second shot at life,” he promised.
What can we learn from this story?
- Making amends is challenging but rewarding. It’s not easy to earn people’s forgiveness, but in the end, it’s infinitely worth it.
- Be honest with your spouse. A relationship is built on many things, but honesty is one of the main pillars. Henry lied about everything and disappeared, leaving Miriam to scramble and struggle on her own.
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If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about parents who had to say goodbye to their daughter who died in a car crash.
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