“Winston, I’ve got to go…” Wilf stammered into the phone, hanging up and turning round. He hurried into the main living area where he had left three year old Joshua Temple-Noble playing happily, while he answered the phone. Now he could hear him wailing.
“Whuh-what is going on?!” Wilf demanded, flabbergasted. There was a young man standing just inside the patio doors. He had Joshua in his arms.
“No need for alarm.”
“Put him down this instant!” Wilf exclaimed, grabbing the nearest thing to him, which happened to be a toy telescope and not much use at all.
“Right, yes, of course.” The man tenderly placed the three year old on the floor. The toddler was sobbing and heaving, his tiny body shaking with the effort, as he lunged towards Wilf and wrapped his arms around his legs. He was soaking wet.
“I believe his aeroplane flew into the pond. He’s got a little bump on the head, no concussion, though. He’ll be fine, no harm done.”
“The pond?” Wilf stammered. He could see the tweed sleeves of the man’s jacket were wet. Wilf grabbed a fluffy towel off a pile of laundry waiting to be put away and wrapped it around Joshua’s shoulders as he sniffed and snatched at the breath. “He fell in?” He held him tightly as the seriousness of what had occurred hit him like a sledge hammer to the centre of his chest. “You? You saved his life.”
“Quite possibly.” The man grinned broadly.
“I… I don’t know how to thank you. How could this happen? I was only out of the room a… the phone rang… and I went to… it was Winston… Minnie has the flu… and… but the doors were shut…”
“I’d hazard a guess this young man learned how to open doors.” The man smiled slightly. “Calm yourself down. It was just an accident, no one at fault. What is his name?”
“Joshua,” Wilf offered. “And I am Wilf.”
“Pleased to meet you, Wilf.” The man grinned. “And I am definitely pleased to meet you, Joshua.” He shook Wilf’s offered hand enthusiastically.
“Bloody Hell, you’re freezing, take that wet jacket off and I will put the kettle on? Would you care for a cup of tea. I know I need one.”
“You know, that sounds like a tremendous idea. Cup of tea? Yes definitely. Is there no one else in?”
“My daughter has gone shopping, and well, we are supposed to be looking after this one together while Donna and Sean are attending some sort of charity function. Lord knows what.” Wilf smirked. “Donna did tell me, but she is like a whirlwind at the moment from one thing to another.”
“My granddaughter, Donna, she is off gallivanting. Donkeys!” Wilf recalled suddenly. “She is at a lunch to raise funds for a donkey sanctuary.”
“Sounds interesting, donkeys? Donkeys are often overlooked.” The man chuckled.
“Oh, she doesn’t just support donkeys. She is into all sorts of things. She won the lottery you see, bought this house, kept some to one side, and is doing good with the rest. Sit yourself down, and get that wet jacket off,” Wilf commented. “Is your shirt wet?” Wilf rummaged through the pile of clothing. “I am sure Sean won't mind you borrowing one of his sweaters.” Wilf handed him a jumper.
“I’m fine, but perhaps some clothes for Joshua?” the man prompted. Wilf grabbed some fluffy pyjamas with green cartoon aliens printed on them. The man smirked at the pattern as he changed Joshua, tenderly towelling him down and checking the little scuff mark on his forehead just to be safe. Wilf watched him intently, wondering why he had no concerns at all about a stranger being in the house or drying down Joshua, and why Joshua didn’t seem to mind either.
Wilf plonked two cups of tea and a glass of milk on the table and some biscuits. Joshua perked up at the sight of chocolate chip cookies.
“Is that your granddaughter?” the man asked, indicating towards a photo of Donna and Sean on her wedding day. It was hanging on the wall just above a marble fire place in the large room.
“Donna, yes.” Wilf nodded with a warm smile.
“Looks like she had a good day,” the man commented as he sipped his tea.
“Oh, yes, a wonderful day. It was a wonderful wedding.” Wilf nodded, though there was a wistful look in his eye. “The best day of her life.”
“She looks happy.”
“She was,” Wilf nodded. “She is,” he corrected. “Very happy.”
“And you?” the man prompted.
“I mean, this must have been a bit of a shock?” He indicated towards Josh who was now happily tucking into his third biscuit.
“Oh, yes, I’m fine. I…” Wilf looked at him curiously across the table. “I… how were you happening to be passing at just the right moment?”
“A bit of luck.”
“I’d say.” Wilf chuckled in disbelief. He gazed at the man sitting across the table from him. “I’m sorry, I forgot to ask, what’s your name?”
“Oh, that’s okay, I am sure you had more important things on your mind, what with your great grandson dripping and crying. He seems fine now, though. Nothing a biscuit and a cuddle from his great grandfather can’t fix.”
“Donna should be back soon. You will have to meet her tell her what happened. Stay and have dinner with us?”
“As much as I would love to meet your family? I should get going,” the man stated as he finished the tea and rose from the table. “See you then, Wilfred.” The man extended his hand to him, but Wilf just stared at him.
“Do I know you?”
“No, I shouldn’t think so.”
“Are you sure? You seem… familiar.”
“In another life perhaps?”
“I don’t believe in all that past life poppycock,” Wilf laughed. “You must just have one of those faces.”
“It is certainly a face, isn’t it?” The man laughed and glanced up as they both heard the front door opening.
“That will be Donna,” Wilf commented. Joshua slipped down from the table and ran out into the foyer to meet his mum. “I better go and tell her what has happened. I am sure she will offer you something for your trouble? A reward?”
“Oh, that is completely unnecessary. Believe me, this is reward enough.” The man smiled as he heard Donna’s voice from in the hallway.
“What are you doing in your pyjamas?!”
“There was a little accident, love.” Wilf hurried out.
“Accident?! What accident?”
“He’s alright. He fell in that blasted pond, but there was a man passing and he fished him out. I dread to think what could have happened if...” Wilf shuddered at the thought. “Come and meet him: he is just having a cup of tea,” Wilf suggested.
“Bye-bye.” Joshua waved at the open patio doors; the man was gone.
“He was here.” Wilf hurried out into the garden, but there was no sign. He was about to turn back into the house more disappointed than he should be, when he heard it; the gentle thrum escalating into a soul cleansing whoop. Wilf looked up to the cloudless sky and dropped to his knees, clasping his hands together tightly as he breathed, “Thank you, Doctor.”
“Gramps?” Donna came out with Joshua on her hip. “Are you praying?!”
“No.” Wilf laughed freely. “There is no need; he’s safe."