Short Fiction

It’s a Surprise

By KJ Hannah Greenberg

Avigail led me, by the pinky finger, into the kitchen. Her auburn curls bounced as she walked.� Every few steps, despite her hold on me, she looked back to make sure I was really following her.

Cheryl had seemed relieved that our pint-sized mistress had chosen me to be the new focus of her attention. My partner waved a weary hand in my direction as she bent down once more to apply solvent to the unguent, which Avigail had used to secure the cat’s tail to the sofa.� Her call a half hour earlier, had warned me that I would be spending some time in the veterinary clinic.

I walked carefully around the purple, oozing blob that had been poster paint before Avigail had mixed it with a little baking soda and a lot of vinegar. I stepped over the locks of hair she had shorn from her older sister and sort of hopped beyond the fossilized contents of her little brother’s diaper.� I guessed that Cheryl had sent our child out to school with a bad haircut and had judged frozen poo less of a problem that a fastened feline.

“I have a surprise for you,” our little charmer had shrilled through the screen as I came up the walk. All two yards of eyelash batting framed her in innocence. She was not culpable, in her esteem, for Cheryl’s insistence that I break off with an important client in order to restore order to our home. I think my wife’s words had been something about “unemployment beats jail time.”

Ever Avigail’s clever father, though, I had managed to snare the account by closing the deal on my car phone. There would be raspberry sherbet for everyone tonight.

Avigail looked behind and up at me again. “Come on,” she crooned, as she pulled on my smallest digit. “The surprise can’t wait.”

Just as I reached to pat her head and perhaps to lift her up to give her a benevolent kiss, she released her hold and ran over the kitchen’s threshold. “Sit here,” she commanded.

I poured a glass of water and began to think about the vet’s bill. I wondered whether a psychologist for a house pet would be prohibitively expensive.

“No. No,” Avigail scolded. “You have to close your eyes.”

I took another shot of water, listened for additional unhappy sounds from my wife, shrugged and complied. At least I was keeping our energized offshoot occupied. Maybe Cheryl would consent to driving to Dr. Elegy if I offered to babysit.

“Daddy, close your eyes,” the small dictator, whom I had sired, repeated.

I closed my eyes. Over and over again, my fair-haired princess warned me not to look.

I heard drawers open and close and the dish cupboard boom wide. Once, Avigail had made me a marvel of cornflakes covered in Tabasco sauce. She had noted my reaction gleefully. Another time, she had served me cat food on round crackers, covered with a thin topping of whipped cream. Cheryl had refused to loan Avigail the camera. My favorite, though, had been the bananas slices in leftover gravy. I’m a willing accomplice to her experiments because I know that future United Nations delegates and rocket scientists need to develop a propensity for critical thinking.

Again, a high-pitched voice bade me, in no uncertain terms, not to open my eyes. I groped for my glass, drank a little more water and waited. After a few minutes, the only sounds I heard were those of Cheryl trying to coax the freshly emancipated cat out from behind the sofa and the cat responding with an opinion that didn’t seem conducive to receiving first aid from the vet.

Suddenly, I heard our younger son yelp.

Whereas Cheryl had succeeded in freeing the feline, she had not yet cleaned up the rest of the fast acting glue. Our still diaperless boy wonder had managed to step in the stuff and was mighty displeased that his foot remained attached to the floor.

Forgetting the game I was playing with his sister, and my opportunity to sample her latest culinary surprise, I opened my eyes and leapt out of my chair.

As I flew through the kitchen to rescue my lone, male heir, I noticed that both the utensil drawer and the freezer door had been left open. Also, a stepping stool had been pulled up to the refrigerator and a trail of pink ran from the kitchen to the back door.

The worst surprise, though, was that the vet billed us for the mental treatment he incurred, at the hospital emergency room, after a protective Avigail bit him.

Featured Story

It’s a Surprise was published on 3rd June, 2009.