“Louise,” Thorny yelled from somewhere in the house. Probably his office, I thought, slamming the album of pictures shut. I was scrap booking, designing pages into works of art, adding photos almost as an afterthought. Low on paper cement I’d have to quit soon anyway. But, damn it to hell! What on earth did he want now?

I scooted my chair back from my desk in the dining room and walked into the hall. “Where are you?” I called. No answer. “Where are you, Thorny?” Louder this time.

“You damn well know where I am,” came the reply. I padded on slippered feet to my husband’s office. I found him, his wheel chair precariously perched, ready to pitch over onto the couch. His outstretched arm on the cushion was all that kept him upright albeit at a dangerous slant.

“How did you manage that?” I asked him.

“Never mind. Give me a hand here,” he said.

“You tried to get out of the chair, I’ll bet, and tipped it.” I pulled on the rubbery wheel and set him right.

“You’d lose.” He brushed his hand across his head, straightening his crop of salt and pepper hair.

“Whatever,” I said. “Is that it? Do you need anything else?”

“I need to know why I wasn’t asked if my daughter could spend the weekend with her college roommate’s family.”

“She didn’t ask. She told me that she’d been invited and wanted to go.”

“And you said?”

“Okay.”

“Without consulting me. Whenever Claire wants to do something she knows I will disapprove of, she seeks out her mother. Now why do you suppose that is.?”

I let out a long sigh, shrugged my shoulders and shook my head. I knew the drill. He’d lay a load of guilt on me, make me feel like I didn’t deserve him or my daughter because I couldn’t toe the line.

“Oh, am I holding you up from doing something? Boring you with my diatribe? You must forgive my old-mannish ways, but frankly I’m concerned about my daughter’s sudden need to visit a family she doesn’t even know. What’s the attraction?”

“A new friend, perhaps?”

“This new friend wouldn’t have a brother, would she?”

“He’s in Iraq, and besides, Claire isn’t boy crazy.”

“Get this straight–from this moment on, what my daughter does is my business. She will ask my permission to change the normal course of events. You don’t know how to say no. I will tell her in no uncertain terms, she will not ask you without consulting me first. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes, sir. May I leave the room now?” I said like a child to a parent. My passport to end this gruesome conversation.

“You may fix my lunch and bring it here. Tomato soup and grilled cheese.”

I turned on a heel and left the room to do my master’s bidding.

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