"Little Britches" Universe

Disclaimer: The characters belong to MGM and Trilogy Entertainment

Warnings: After my previous Little Britches stories I was told I should issue a "hankie" warning. Here it is: Hankies may be needed.

Notes: This is really just a snippet for Father's Day. It was inspired by a story I read this morning. Hope you enjoy it. Go hug your kid. Unbetaed.

Listen, Vin: I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little paw crumpled under your cheek and blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my book by the fire, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guiltily I came to your bedside.

These are the things I was thinking, Vin: I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing this morning because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to task for not cleaning the mud off your boots and tracking it in the house. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor.

At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread jam too thick on your bread. And as you started off to play when we were in town, you turned and waved a hand and called, "Good-bye, Mr. Chris!" and I frowned, and said in reply, "Stand up straight!"

Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came up the road I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles. There were holes in your socks. I couldn't understand why you preferred to play without your boots that we bought two sizes too big so you could grow into them in a couple years. I humiliated you before your friends by marching you ahead of me to the jailhouse. Socks were expensive, and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that, Vin, from someone who is supposed to be your protector!

Do you remember, later, when I was reading by the warm fire in the stove, how you came in, timidly, with a sort of hurt look in your eyes? When I glanced up over my book, impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door. "What is it you want?" I snapped.

You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, and threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, and your small arms tightened with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither...and then you were gone, pattering to your room.

Well, Vin, it was shortly afterwards that my book slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault, reprimanding--this was my reward to you for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too much of youth. It was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years.

And there was so much that was good and fine and true in your character. The little heart of you was as big as the dawn itself over the wide hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me goodnight. Nothing else matters tonight, Vin. I have come to your bedside in the darkness, and I have knelt here, ashamed!

I could offer excuses. It has been a difficult day for me, a day I dread every year. You see Vin, today is the day Sarah and Adam were ripped from my life. I doubt I will ever lose the anguish I feel at their loss, and today every time I looked at you, it just twisted the knife deeper in my heart. But how is that your fault?

It is a feeble atonement; I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours. I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you now, Vin, crumpled and weary in your bed, I see that you are still a little boy. Yesterday you were in your mother's arms, your head on her shoulder. Then she was snatched away from you and you faced who knows what in that forsaken orphanage. I have asked too much, Vin, too much.

But tomorrow I will be a real father to you, Vin. I will chum with you, suffer when you suffer, and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual, "He is nothing but a boy, a little boy!" And if you will allow it, Vin, tomorrow I will call you my son.

June 15, 2001

Comments: Jkersteter@aol.com