By Nadia Kingsley
WHILE Helen went off, to place Dad’s bottle of bubbly in the freezer drawer, I took his coat and ushered him straight to the stairs to start the ‘Grand Tour’. I tried to catch Hel’s eye, but she was busy playing the long term lodger – shaking Dad’s hand, asking him how his journey had been, accepting his comments about the weather and batting back a quip about ducks before ‘leaving us to it, as we must have so much to talk about, and Brussel Sprouts don’t peel themselves.’
Dad was looking old. He always did when I first saw him. Before I adjusted.
The first room I showed him was my home office. He made the right noises as I pointed out the double-glazed UPVC windows and he knocked the wooden window sills, testing for rot I think, before nodding his approval – and calling me Francesca, as if I was still his little girl in pigtails.
He said he didn’t want to see ‘Helen’s room’, but I insisted, saying something about it belonging to me anyway. As we walked in he said how he couldn’t quite believe that I was a homeowner now, and that ‘your mother would have been so proud.’ I parried with a comment on how Helen had been such a help with the move, and of course how her rent, her agreeing to move with me, had made this giant leap possible.
It’s not a big house. But I took my time. How else could we while away the long minutes before the roast was ready? I showed him the outside. I knew Dad would be interested in the shed, the garage, in ‘my’ plans of laying a patio – giving him opportunities for doling out his own advice and comments.
‘Helen’s your partner, isn’t she?’ Dad said as he sat down on the sofa.
‘Yes.’ I said.
‘I like her.’ Dad said.
Helen came in carrying a tray, pushing the door to with her foot, before placing it on the coffee table.
‘Well.’ she said, ‘Shall we celebrate?’
I grinned at Dad. He grinned back. Hel popped the cork.
© Nadia Kingsley 2016