This is the solo version of Theodora.
It was a rainy august afternoon. I’d slept in most of the morning and was looking forward to a day of reading and lazing around. My brothers were in town doing who-knows-what and my old man was somewhere downstairs probably working on his novel. He’s been at it for years, but every time he decides it’s finished, he realizes he doesn’t like how a particular sub-plot worked out, or the point of view of a certain scene. Frankly, I think it’s more an endless hobby than a project with an actual conclusion in sight, but who knows.
However, my day did not turn out quite as planned. When I finally dragged myself out of my bedroom to go scrounge a bit of food downstairs, my old man was sitting at the kitchen table. He gave me one of his sly Do-I-Ever-Have-Plans-For-You looks that he gives his students before assigning one of his Death-ssays as they are not entirely fondly referred to.
Oh no, I thought, I’m going to have to vacuum or something aren’t I? There’s no way he’s letting me get away with a whole day of doing nothing, is there?
- All right old man. What sort of slavery will it be today? I asked, preparing myself for the worst.
- Oh, nothing too painful, my dear Theodora, he said with a chuckle. I eyed him suspiciously.
- So… what will it be?
- A short trip with me, he answered vaguely.
- What kind of trip? I asked sceptically.
- The kind where the dutiful daughter accompanies her wise father on an interesting and eye-opening journey.
- Uh huh… Okay well, seeing as I have no alternative, I’m going to go get dressed. I hope you know you’re interrupting my blissful day of peace. I said sourly.
- Oh yes, I’m perfectly aware. But you’ve had enough of those already this summer. He said cheerfully.
Ten minutes later, I arrived downstairs dressed in cut-offs and a black tank top. He looked me over, a hint of disapproval behind his green eyes. I rolled mine at him.
- What? I asked.
- It’s just… he hesitated, clearly unsure whether or not to pursue the issue.
- You’re the one who won’t tell me where we’re going. I reminded him
- Fair enough. All right, into the vehicle with you.
- Fine, fine. I’m going. I sighed.
We pulled in at old Mr Gardiner’s a few minutes later.
- Here? I asked surprised. Maybe it is vacuuming after all, I thought. Mr Gardiner had been dead for a few months and it wasn’t unlike my dad to want to keep the place tidy (if you can call it that) until the next owners showed up. However, a second glance at the house—and at the new SUV in the driveway—told me that we were not here on clean up duty. You sneaky old man, I thought.
- Oh ho. Clever, very clever. And I thought at worst I would be scrubbing floors. But no, it seems I’m in for some deep “welcoming” torture. And without justification, I might add.
- The new family moved in a week ago. From what I heard, they have a son just about your age, he said, grinning smugly.
- And what pray tell, does that have to do with me? I demanded.
- Well you know, I just thought he might like someone his own age to make him feel welcome.
- Yet you sent off the three other males of this family, who he clearly would have gotten along better with, to town today. I accused.
- Oh Thea, he sighed, you need to see more people, get out more.
- I do see people! I see Gabe all the time!
- But apart from Gabrielle? And you haven’t been seeing any boys since you and Alexander ended it, which was what, over a year ago?
- What do you care? You hated Alex! And at that point I wasn’t really in the mood to be socialising if you recall.
- I know, I know, and I did not hate Alex. But don’t you think it’s time to get back into the swing of things?
- Do you? Since Mum’s been gone it’s not like you’ve been a-courting or anything.
- That’s different, he said sharply. I have you four to take care of. I’m not interested in seeing any one for a very long time.
- You know it’s what she would have wanted.
- She would have wanted me to wait till I am ready. And that, I am not.
- Fine, fine, –I could see the pain on his face— I’ll humour you old man. But don’t expect anything to come of it. I added defensively.
His face eased, - Thank you dear. That’s all I ask.