As Faye sat down at the dinner table she took note of the scene in front of her. Her mother was busying herself over at the stove, her back to her as she took her seat. Faye's father, with his dark brown hair and hazelnut eyes, barely acknowledged her presence but that wasn't something new. He had obviously just come in from work, his crisp white shirt now ruffled, the collar loose around his neck. His deep-set eyes were firmly set on his phone, his fingertips scrolling through something Faye couldn't quite see as his brow furrowed intermittently.
"I made spaghetti bolognese," her mother called over her shoulder, though it wasn't necessary. It was Faye's favourite meal and therefore her mother made it often. The smell of tomatoes and spices that had greeted Faye as she had left her bedroom had told her everything she needed to know before she had even reached the stairs.
"Thanks mum," Faye replied, still intently watching her father. He didn't react to hearing what they were having for tea, which told Faye he was deep in concentration, as she also knew he hated spaghetti bolognese. Despite his distance emotionally, that fact oddly reassured Faye that he did indeed love her on some level. Because he still ate it every time her mother made it and never asked for something else.
After her mother placed the bowls in front of them all, Faye made sure to fill her mouth quickly, incase her mother wanted to start a conversation regarding her earlier session with Dr Billows.
"So how was your session earlier?" Her mother asked as if she had heard Faye's thought process. With a mouth firmly full of bolognese, Faye just nodded furiously whilst mumbling, "good, good,"
Her mother's brow wrinkled at Faye's avoidance and sipped casually at her glass, clearly waiting for Faye to finish and continue in more depth. Faye's chewing slowed and she opened her mouth a little to shovel some more in.
"Faye!" Her mother reprimanded and Faye froze mid mouthful to meet her gaze.
"Wha-" Faye tried to get out without spilling her mouthful out all over herself or her plate. Her mother's gaze narrowed and Faye chewed faster.
"Sorry. It's just so good," she tried to apologise but her mother's face told her she fell short.
"So. Now your mouth is empty you can answer my question," her mother pushed and Faye had to resist the urge to repeat another extra mouthful. She swallowed loudly and then sipped at her glass of lemonade, clearly not wanting to answer.
"How about you leave Faye to her dinner? The girl obviously doesn't want to answer and Beatrice she doesn't have to," her father swooped into her defence, which was extremely unlike him. Faye looked over at him in shock and was met with a soft smile in her direction.
"Peter, I'm only trying to ensure our daughter is ok. She doesn't willingly give me information about her sessions any more. And I'm sure I heard her talking to someone upstairs in her room," her mother continued, the accusation making Faye feel sick. Faye gripped at her fork trying to come up with a better answer than she had before.
"Did she have her phone near her? Maybe she was on a call she didn't want you to know about? She is 18 now Beatrice, an adult. She is allowed the benefit of the doubt," he continued, laying his phone down next to him to meet Beatrice's gaze. Faye watched as her mother hesitated before answering. Clearly mulling over what he had just said. Faye smiled wider at her father, who in the past 10 years had maybe come to her aid once. They had been close when she was younger, when her imaginary friends had been endearing and not destroying their relationship. Her diagnosis had hit him hard and the distance had started that day. He tolerated her from then on but nothing more. He was never cruel, cruel would have been some sort of attention. He had just outright ignored her for most of her life.
"Well, why wouldn't she say if it had been an actual person? Faye? Did you hide that from me?" She questioned, turning her attention to Faye. Faye panicked, not having a lie prepared on her tongue.
"Um," Faye went to reply but thankfully it hadn't been necessary.
"Benefit of the doubt Beatrice," her father replied, cutting her off. Her mother glowered at him but didn't press the matter further.
The rest of the meal passed relatively silently but Faye couldn't have cared any less. Her heart was beaming from her father's sudden act of kindness. Their eyes met often as they both ate and each time he had a soft smile for her. The day was ending on a high note and it left Faye feeling all warm and fuzzy for the first time in forever.
The evening passed quickly after tea. Faye decided to stay downstairs and watch T.V. which was a rarity in itself. But she didn't want to miss spending time with her father in case the next morning brought forth the cold shoulder again. So instead of retreating to her bedroom, back to Avery, she sat on their black leather couch with the purple throw tucked along the back. Her mother came in a while later and almost had to pick her jaw off of the floor, clearly not used to seeing her only child willingly in their company.
Her father took a seat in the matching leather chair that was to Faye's left and turned on the T.V, once again with a soft smile in her direction.
"Anything in particular you want to watch?" He asked as he flicked through the channels, not settling on anything for too long. Faye shook her head in reply, curling into the arm of the couch and getting comfy.
"Anything but a war programme. If this is family time then wartime is officially out," her mother called as she sat down softly next to Faye. She pulled the purple throw from behind the couch and covered both of their knees. Although it wasn't exactly chilly, Faye allowed herself to be tucked in.
"Oh I see, no war stories and yet I'm left out here in the cold," her father jested, swooping his hand dramatically across his lower legs. Faye chuckled and looked behind her briefly, but no other blankets were behind her head to give him.
"Stop your moaning and get over here with us then. My bottom isn't that big is it?" Her mother joked in reply. Her father stood and Faye thought he would sit next to her mother, but instead he put his hands in between Faye and the sofa.
"Skooch up then," he replied whilst pushing gently and Faye almost fell off the seat as she struggled to move, her feet tangled in the purple throw. Enough space was finally made and her father sat in next to her, putting an arm around her back and pulling her in. She turned to look at her mother in confusion but her mother just smiled and shrugged her shoulders, before snuggling into Faye's right, tucking the throw around them all.
"Also if war is out so are the lovey-dovey films. I'm not having my eyeballs bleed for two hours," her father continued as he carried on flicking through the channels.
"How about a thriller then? Or some sort of adventure film?" Faye offered, even though her eyes felt heavy already despite her earlier nap. She also hadn't taken her meds yet but she didn't want to move from this space. Not ever.
"Sure. That sounds perfect," her mother replied, stretching over her to grab the remote from her father's hand.
The film they chose was a fast-paced one and at times Faye struggled to keep up. She also found herself annoyed at the heroine, floundering and broken until the hero put her back together again. It made her stomach roll how someone relied on another so much. As if they had no strength alone, couldn't possibly live without them now they had met. Films like that always annoyed her, no one ever saved her from herself.
At some point her eyes had become too heavy for her to resist the call of sleep, her mother or father tucking her in on the couch before they headed to bed themselves.
The morning sunshine stole her sleep from her, burning into her eyes as she awoke. She sat up sleepily and stretched out like a cat, a small squeak escaping as she did so.
"Avoiding me already?" Avery's voice pulled at her as she rubbed her eyes and she shook her head in silent reply.
"Then why did you sleep on the couch?"
"Can we continue this conversation when I've had some coffee?" Faye replied, not really in the mood this early in the morning.
"What conversation?" Her father's voice made her blood run cold, her body frozen when she realised she hadn't checked she was alone. She closed her eyes to try to think up a lie but came up with nothing.
From behind her father in the kitchen suddenly there was a smash. It made Faye jump up, watching as her father spun to see the shattered glass all over the floor. He looked around in confusion as to how this had happened, forgetting their conversation entirely.
"You're welcome," whispered Avery as he was suddenly behind her. His hands fell to her waist as if holding her in place for a moment. The moment they dropped away, Faye turned to face him but was greeted with nothing but empty space.
"Dad?" Faye called out, as she walked slowly towards the kitchen. "Is everything ok?"
"That bloody cat knocking things off again," he replied as he looked around the kitchen for the blue dustpan and brush. Faye shook her head as she immediately caught sight of it in the corner by the bin. The same place it always was. She walked over to it, making sure she avoided the shattered glass upon the floor and grabbed it.
"Oh, there is it. I really wish your mother wouldn't move it," he said. Faye rolled her eyes at the comment because it was always next to the bin.
"Do you want any help?" Faye offered, slightly swaying on her feet, not used to making small talk with her father. She was also ridiculously tired before her morning coffee.
"No, no, it's fine. If anyone should be picking this up it should be Belle," he replied glancing around again looking for the culprit. Faye chuckled at the image in her mind, of Belle trying to hold the dustpan and scoop up the shattered glass.
"What's so funny?" Her dad asked, slight scowl on his face as his gaze settled on hers. Faye froze and shook her head in reply.
"No not the glass, just Belle tidying up,"
Her dad laughed lightly along with her as his gaze softened.
"Yes, well that would be a funny sight. Especially without thumbs. How would she grip the brush?" he replied, smile fully on his face.
"Well I'm making a coffee, do you want one?" Faye asked as she pottered, in dire need of some caffeine. Her father nodded,
"That would be nice thank you,"