Wait Till Your Father Gets Home

From behind the barricaded door, I could hear Dad coming up the steps.  With his big, rough hands, he was the go-to guy when a jar had to be opened, and he could chin himself one-handed.  My father was not in the habit of spanking me, especially now that I was a teenager, but I had really gone over the line with Mom, and I’d heard her tell him to let me have it.  I was scared.

He got to my bedroom door, knocked, and said quietly, “I’m not gonna hurt you.”  So I pulled the desk away, and he came in.  “I’m going to start clapping my hands, and you’re going to start crying.”  And I did!  When he stopped, we sat down and talked.  He knew why Mom was mad – I had stayed out late the night before and she had locked me out, which meant she’d had to get up and let me in when I finally got home.  She didn’t upbraid me then, but the next day after school said, “Next time I won’t let you back in!”

I’d retorted, “Great! No more of your runny scrambled eggs for breakfast!”  She chased me up to my room with a broomstick in her hand.  I was able to turn her around and push her out the door.  And then, of course, she said it:  “Wait till your father comes home!”

So Dad listened to the way I told the story, and said, “It’s only a year till you’re eighteen.  After that, you’re free.  Do you think you can behave till then?”  I said yes.  “Your mother is just doing her job.”  He sighed.  “And I suppose you’re doing yours. But you don’t have to insult her.”  I nodded.

He put his hand on my shoulder, stood up, and went back downstairs.  I heard Mom tell him, “You didn’t have to hit him so hard!”


Dinner was tense, silent.  Then, out of nowhere, Dad said, “I bought a wooden whistle.”

Mom groaned, and said under her breath, “Not again.”  I didn’t understand.

“But it wooden whistle,” Dad went on.  Ah, so it was a joke.  A pretty lame one, I thought.

“So I bought a steel whistle.  And it steel wooden whistle.”  Mom and I looked at each other; why was he doing this?

Dad ate quietly for a while.  “Is that it?” I asked.

Mom sighed and said, “No, I’m afraid not.”

After a bit, Dad finished it off.  “So I bought a tin whistle, and now I tin whistle.”

Mom shook her head and I jeered even while I was laughing.  Actually, we all laughed.

About In a Former Time

This blog is meant as a vehicle to publish my literary work.
This entry was posted in Short fiction. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Wait Till Your Father Gets Home

  1. Pingback: Holding my Breath « An American Point of View

  2. Karen Willis says:

    Charming slice-of-life piece! What a wonderful father. This engaged me immediately, and I’m so glad I got to read it!

  3. Eve says:

    The clapping part — you would have had to live then to get it. Amazing man. You must miss him.

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