Her fantasy for him.
My dad circling me in ever closer orbit, his voice booming as he yelled the quote regarding sparing the rod, and knowing that he wouldn't.
I took a deep breath, squared my shoulders and reminded myself that those days were past. I was no longer a young boy. I now towered over my father, my height being a throw back to some unknown ancestor. The years and a new woman in his life had considerably mellowed him, but still there was that little trace of fear in me.
I must have been standing outside longer than I had realised because the front door flew open and my stepmother came rushing out arms spread wide ready to envelope me in one of her famous crushing hugs, "David! Charles, David's here!"
I was almost bent double by her actions as she pulled me to her ample bosom, but I maintained my balance. After a decent length of time I extracted myself from her and straightened up and picking up my bags followed her into the house.
My dad was sitting in the front room, a cup of tea balanced on his knees; he barely looked my direction until the commercial break. "Fiona get the boy a cup of tea," he adjusted his glasses and patted the sofa next to him, "have a seat young man."
I put my bags down and sat next to him.
He looked at me a moment, "far too skinny if you ask me. Fiona? Don't you think he's too thin?" he called out towards the kitchen.
Fiona poked her head back in the room, "they say the camera adds ten pounds, Charles. He doesn't want to look fat."
That seemed to settle that discussion, and Fiona came back bearing a cup of tea drowned in cr__me and sludgy with sugar. I took a polite sip and then set the cup down. The conversation came to a dead halt as the programme came back on. Fiona sat on the edge of the sofa arm next to my dad and became engrossed in the show, too. I am not much into gardening shows so I gulped down the last of the tea, trying not to wince at its cloying sweetness and stood to remove my jacket.
This action got my dad's attention and he looked up at me, "I've been watching that programme you're on. It's not too bad, though I read somewhere you have a poof on that show. He doesn't strike me as being 'light on his feet' but can't always tell with those types. I never thought this whole acting thing would pan out for you, I had wanted you to go into the church like your brother, as you know, far more respectable career."
Fiona's gaze drifted to me too, "Mrs. Whitney tapes you every Saturday. She keeps telling everyone she meets that she's changed your nappy."
I smiled at that, "luckily I'm house broken now."
My dad frowned at her, his hand reflexively opening and closing in a fist, "don't interrupt Fiona! Anyway, you do seem to be enjoying some success and that's good but don't let it go to your head. I would hate to see you get corrupted and be one of those show biz types, becoming a Nancy boy and getting up to all things at all hours."
Fiona waited, this time, until she was sure he was finished, then she patted his arm "David's a good boy, aren't you?" she smiled at me.
If you only knew, I thought. But instead I held my tongue.
Fiona stood up, "where are my manners? I suspect you'd like to get your things to your room and maybe a lay down before supper. Emily and her family are coming. Your room is ready for you. You know the way."
I gathered my things and went upstairs; I hesitated before opening the bedroom door, trying to remember what it used to look like. As I stepped inside the room the images faded and a pretty generic room, done in neutral colours, greeted me. It featured a large bed with a hand knitted cover in earth tones. Definitely not a boy's room any more, I mused, more like something out of "Country Living" magazine.
I hung up a few things, unpacked the rest and stretched out on the bed afterwards.