Write a story of an old man returning to his home he left many years ago.

- by Abigail Shannon Chua
Wesley Methodist School Melaka

Charles stood at the gate leading to a large mansion. Trees were scattered around the compound and the lawn looked like it had not been swept in a long time. He took a deep breath and pushed the gate, opening them with a rusty screech. He crunched across the dried leaves to the mansion. At the door, he lifted the golden knocker and knocked. After a while, the door was flung open and a woman stood in the doorway, her dress crumpled and a pin cushion in her hand.

"Margaret," he said before she flung herself into his arms.

"I missed you so much," she cried, tears streaming down her face.

Years ago, Charles was a wealthy businessman who travelled around the world selling furniture. He had a wonderful family and led a very comfortable life. One day, he started gambling. Soon, he squandered his money and it spiralled down to nearly zero. Finally, in desperation, he borrowed money from a friend who made him promise to pay him back in a year. When Charles failed to do so, he sent his hooligans to collect the debt from Charles. Terrified, Charles left his family in panic, only leaving a note telling them that he was sorry for what he had done. He boarded a ship which sailed off to Scotland, where he started earning money again. He hoped to earn enough money so that he could return to England and pay off his debts. However, he failed even after many years. He only returned when he heard that his friend had died.

His wife ushered him into the house and they sat down in the living room. Everything looked the same, except for the fact that their children's laughter was missing.

"Where are Emma and John?" Charles asked his wife.

"They've got married and are living with their own families now. Emma gave birth to a beautiful baby girl last summer. She cried, wishing that you were here holding your grandchild in your arms," his wife said.

Charles felt a surge of guilt within him and sobbed softly. She put a finger on his lips, hushing him soothingly. Just then, the hallway was filled with the knocks of the door knocker and the door swung open. "Mother, what's going on?" John asked as he was hanging his coat on the coat hanger.

Charles stood in the doorway of the living room, staring at his son who was 10 years old when he left and was now 25.

"My son," he whispered as he held his son. John was too shocked to react and his coat fell to the ground. "Father," he said and they hug each other, sobbing in each other's arms. They returned to the living room and sat down, John staring at his father.

"Why did you leave us?" he demanded.

Charles hung his head low.

"I was in debt. I needed to pay the man or else he would have killed me," he swallowed.

"After all these years, you finally came back," John whispered, shaking with cold sweat.

"I hope that you'll forgive me for what I've done," Charles said as he stood up to leave but John grabbed his elbow.

"No. Stay here and be the father I've longed for," he said and Charles sat down, smiling at his son who had done him proud. John got up and called his sister.

"Emma, father is home! Come quickly!" he said, putting down the receiver with joy.