The cold winter air stung his nostrils as Stephan walked along the brick covered sidewalk next to the tracks. Fourteen years it had been since he'd last seen Rebecca.
After his parents had gotten a divorce he had been asked where he wanted to live, with his step-mother or with his father. He had said that he wanted to live with Rebecca, his step-sister; however, she was going to live with her biological father in Northern Europe to attend a private all-girls academy after the divorce was settled. As a result, the court had given his parents joint custody, neither of which lived anywhere near Northern Europe or had reason to visit. He had been 11 then, just young enough to fall in love, yet not old enough to understand the consequences or the complications.
He had written letters for the first couple of years, but he had never gotten a response. He didn't know anything about Rebecca's father, yet he used to imagine all manner of reasons why the man would have kept him from speaking to her. Most of them were outlandish and terrible; occasionally he would ask his step-mother about the letters. She had told him not to worry, that Rebecca was living a very different life then in boarding school and there were many reasons why she might not respond.
When Stephan was seventeen his step-mother had been diagnosed with cancer. While visiting her he had searched in her closet for some clothing and an old photo album to bring to the hospital and reminisce about the past with her. That was when he had found the letters in a shoebox in the back of his mother's closet. She had read the letters and never sent them. He had felt confused and betrayed and ashamed that his mother had known about his love for Rebecca all these years and had worked to keep them apart. He had taken the letters and the clothing to the hospital and confronted her. She was too weak to argue and had just told him she was sorry. He felt that it was unhealthy and she had hoped that he would soon forget his crush on his step-sister and he would move on.
He had been furious with his step-mother and said some things he later regretted. She had survived cancer, but their relationship had been much different afterward. That next week at school he used the Internet to search for any sign of his step-sister. The year was 1997 and there was nothing except a listing of the school she had attended the year she had moved to live with her father. Rebecca was three years older than him; she would be graduated from high school by then and probably a junior in college studying fine arts or something creative like that. As time passed he had joined the social networking revolution and had discovered a chat group that was focused on reconnecting long lost family members. He had tried a few agencies like this, but they had not found anything of use. Rebecca and her father had moved to Switzerland where he had set up a new company, but after the dot-com bubble burst the company had gone bankrupt and her father had sold his house and car and there was no record of his current whereabouts. A woman sharing the same name as his step-sister had attended university in France for two years before leaving and there had not been any record of her since then.
But, through the social networking group he had found a ray of light. It seems that Rebecca had quit school to move to southern Spain where she and her father had moved in with a distant relative and were helping to run a small restaurant there. Stephan had emailed the owner of the restaurant to confirm whether Rebecca was actually working there and had asked that she get in contact with him. Three weeks later he had received an email from his very surprised step-sister. For the next two years, Stephan and Rebecca kept in close contact. In the fall of 2005, Stephan was finishing his master's studies in Boston and had decided to take his winter vacation to fly to Europe where he and Rebecca would meet again for the first time in over a decade.
He saw her walking along the tracks toward him. In a burst of excitement, he began to hurry his pace. Fourteen years of waiting and hoping and searching and he had finally found her again. With a smile and a sigh, he wrapped his arms around her and buried his face in the warmth of her shoulder and just enjoyed the moment. As the train rushed passed them he could feel the tides of his life changing, but he just wanted to enjoy this moment for the rest of his life.