June, 1945 - Vancouver, British Columbia
The platform was crowded as Paul stepped off the daycoach car. In a crush like this, being tall and gangly was an advantage; his eyes swept over the heads of the reuniting families, the couples long separated, the mothers and fathers and sweethearts and wives all searching for their own special returning serviceman.
It was a joyous, raucous scene, filled with couples in embraces, babies and young children hoisted up for inspection, tears of relief and happiness, shouts of recognition, frantic waves as each young man in uniform would emerge from one of the cars.
How his mom and dad had missed him, he didn't know, but Paul could see both of them eagerly waiting near a pillar, eyes darting from car to car as the soldiers and sailors and airmen disembarked. He slipped easily through the crush and was almost in his mother's arms before she spotted him; she fairly leapt into his arms and cried a mother's tears for the safe return of her boy. His father waited, shuffling self-consciously, and once Paul broke free of Mom, offered up a man's handshake and a brief, awkward embrace.
His dad took hold of Paul's duffel. "If we hurry, we can be the first to the bus," he said.
But Paul was back to looking over the heads in the crowd. "I have to find someone first."
Finally he spotted her - it was hard, with her being so tiny - near a wagon being loaded with luggage. He broke away from his parents. "I'll be just a sec," he promised.
She saw him approaching, and her face lit up in recognition. She rushed to him and gave him a warm hug.
"Welcome home, fella," she said, but even as she was saying it she was back to searching the crowd. "Which car is he on?" Paul would know. He and Justin were inseparable.
Paul shifted uncomfortably, and reached into his pocket. "I have something for you," was all he could think to say. He offered up a small, slightly crumpled envelope.
Eva took it, frowning now, and Paul wondered if it would be more polite to stay while she read the letter, or to get while the getting was good.
Because in about thirty seconds, the getting would not be very good at all.