From the moment Adam was born, Alice knew he was different. Oh, he looked normal and developed normally, but he was different. When the other babies in the nursey cried, he sang. When they learned how to roll over, he was learning to crawl. By the time he was three years old, Adam knew more about the world than many grown men. That’s when she knew. She had always guessed, but secretly hoped—no secretly pretended, that she didn’t know who Adam’s father really was. No one would have believed her anyways. She didn’t even really believe it until Adam’s fifth birthday. Until the day the birthday card arrived in the mail with no return address.
“Alice,” her mother said. “This is arrived today, but it doesn’t say who it’s from.” She held up a pure white envelope with gold trim.
Alice’s face went pale and she had to sit down at the kitchen table.
“Alice? What’s wrong?” Her mother began panicking the way parents do. She knew something was wrong, but she didn’t know how to fix it.
“Mom,” Alice began, “remember before Adam was born, you and Dad asked me all about his father since you had never met him?”
“Yes.” Her mother sat down next to her, set down the envelope, and held her daughter’s hand.
“You won’t believe me if I tell you.” She looked at the envelope and started crying.
“Dear lord, Alice,” her mother said, starting to tear up herself watching her daughter get torn up from the inside. “I will believe anything you tell me.”
Alice took a deep breath, grabbed her mother’s hand and started telling a story of walking through the woods by their old house and coming across a very handsome man in a clearing. He was just sitting there, on a log, and animals were coming up to him and letting him pet them. The clouds seemed to be attracted to him because the ground was more like billowy fluff than forest undergrowth or dead leaves as the rest of the forest was.
“Go on,” her mother said when Alice paused trying to find the right words.
She continued telling the story about how the man noticed her and called out to her by name. She was intrigued, entranced, and completely drawn to this man. They met several times in that clearing over the next few weeks and he told her stories of Gods, Goddesses, and magic. She loved listening to his stories. She fell in love with the man. Then one day he left. All he left was a note that said he would return to claim what was his.
“Oh, Mom,” Alice cried. “He’s coming to collect Adam!”
“Heavens no,” her mother said. “He can’t do that. This card could be from anybody. You don’t even know if it’s from him.”
“Mother, dear,” Adam said, walking into the kitchen. “Father is here now. Goodbye.”
He kissed her on the cheek. Then turned to his grandmother and kissed her on the cheek. “I will return when I can.”
A flash of light filled the kitchen, instantly dissipating, but Adam was gone. His grandmother screamed, and his mother buried her head in her arms crying on the kitchen table.
“Where is Adam?”
“I told you, Mom. His father has collected him.”
“Who’s his father?”
Alice wailed over her loss as her mother slipped into her chair in disbelief. She opened the birthday card and read it. “He will return in thirteen years.”