The Man in The Mansion

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Professor Katie the 1st

The next morning, Ava sat up and stretched. She was surprised to see that she was in her bed. The last thing that Ava remembered was falling asleep in the chair outside. Did Edmund bring her back to her room? She was still in her clothes from yesterday, so she assumed he did. She took a quick shower and threw on a baggy Panic! tee and jeans before heading downstairs.

Downstairs, Ben was sitting on the couch watching cartoons as he ate a bowl of fruit loops. Katie and Edmund were sitting at the table. Edmund was sipping his coffee as he read the newspaper like the true father he was, while Katie was sipping her juice while she read a magazine.

Fashion for Toddlers?” Ava asked as she began making herself a cup of coffee.

“It’s a good read.” Katie said daintily sipping her juice.

“Good morning, Ava. Did you sleep well?” Edmund asked.

“Yeah, I slept great, actually. So, this the usual Saturday routine?” she said motioning to Ben on the couch and the two of them at the table.

“I let the children sleep in on Saturdays, so everyone usually does their own thing as far as breakfast. If you’d like me to make you something, I can.” He offered.

“Nah, it’s fine. I’m gonna make myself a bagel.” She said popping the bagel into the toaster.

“Alright, if you’re sure.” Edmund said, continuing to read his newspaper.

“You still read those things? I didn’t think anyone still sold them.” Ava said as she took a sip of her coffee.

“They still sell them at the gas station, Ava. They’re on a rack next to the door.”

“I knew that, but I didn’t figure you as a “newspaper reading” kind of guy.”

“I happen to enjoy reading the paper. It lets me know what’s going on in the world.” Edmund said turning the page.

“I like to read the funny cartoons in them.” Ben said from the couch.

“Indeed, the funnies are quite humorous.” Edmund agreed with his son.

“Where’s Danny and Jo??” Ava asked.

“Still asleep. They sleep in on Saturdays since we don’t have school or training.” Katie said as the toaster popped Ava’s bagel up.

“I’m surprised you’re up, Ava. I figured you would want to sleep in, seeing as it is a Saturday.” Edmund said.

“My body is pretty much trained to wake up at 8 because of work.” Ava said as she spread the cream cheese onto her bagel.

“That’s understandable. I naturally wake up at 5 or 6 o’clock so I can clean and prepare breakfast.” Edmund said.

“You clean every day?” Ava asked

“Don’t be silly, that would be unnecessary. I clean the house every other day.”

“Wouldn’t that take hours since it’s a big house?”

“Not at all. The bedrooms tend to stay tidy, so I don’t need to do much. The children help me deep clean every month so there isn’t much I need to do. It takes 15 minutes at most.” Edmund explained. That explained how he cleaned her apartment so quickly.

“So how come you two wake up so early?” Ava asked the kids.

“A lady has to wake up bright and early so she can start her day off right.” Katie said.

“Katie always wakes me up so we can play. I don’t mind.” Ben said swinging his feet while he ate his cereal.

“Unless he’s not feeling well, of course.” Katie added.

“When I’m sick, she helps Daddy take care of me. She even lets me hold Mr. Hoppington!” Ben hopping off the couch. Ava helped him put his bowl in the sink before he waddled back to the couch.

“What are you doing today, Ava?” Katie asked.

“Causing your dad trouble, might read a book. Do you need me for something?” Ava asked. Edmund smirked and shook his head.

“Well, I have to teach a class today, but Mr. Hoppington has a doctor’s appointment and Ben is busy with the reports for tomorrow.” Katie said. Ben gasped.

“The reports! Tom and Jerry will have to wait, I have work to do.” He said turning the TV and pulling some notebook paper and a box of coloring utensils off the bookshelf. Ava softly giggled before turning to Katie.

“I’ll have to move my schedule around, but I can do it. When do you need me?”

“ASAP. After you finish your breakfast, meet me in my room.” Katie said downing the rest of her juice before hopping off her chair and heading upstairs. Ava sat down in the chair next to Edmund as she continued eating.

“I’m assuming she wants to be a professor when she grows up?” she asked.

“That or a lawyer.” Edmund said as he folded his newspaper and placed it on the table.

“A lawyer? I didn’t expect that out of her.”

“She’s rather good at proving her point.”

“Indeed, she is. It’s a shame that we’ll have to reschedule the trouble making, I was excited to see you attempt to find the book again. I found a good hiding place this time.” He said with a slight smile.

“Don’t worry. I’ll be back to causing you trouble soon. I’ll have the book back by the end of the day.” She said as she finished her bagel.

“Will you now?”

“Yup. I guarantee it.”

“You sound quite determined.”

“I am. I found the book last time with no trouble at all.”

“No trouble at all?”

“Yup, you clearly made up the whole rolling chair thing. I would never do something as stupid as stand on a rolling chair in order to reach a mysterious box on top of a bookshelf.” Ava said as she finished the last bit of her coffee.

“Ah yes, I clearly made it up so I would sound heroic for catching you as you fell. You clearly have more common sense than I depicted, my apologies.” He said with a soft smile.

“You are forgiven. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a class to tend to.” She said as put her dishes in the sink. She and Edmund chuckled softly before she walked up to Katie’s room.

As she opened the door, Katie tackled her.

“Thank goodness that you’re here; the class is driving me wild.” She said as she grabbed Ava’s hand and directed her towards a small chair next to her bed. “I need you to grade papers while I help the students with their tests.”

Most of the papers were scribbles along with some simple equations. Ava was relieved that Katie didn’t teach a pretend college class, or she may have ended up being a student.

“So, your dad told me you wanted to be a professor when you grow up.” Ava said as she began to grade papers.

“Yeah, at first I was thinking about being a lawyer, or mathematician or maybe even a philosopher but I decided that teaching would be better for me. I want to help people raise their IQ while also helping them with the career they want to pursue in life.” She said as she walked around the room.

“That’s really sweet of you, Katie.”

“What did you want to be when you were little?”

“Well since I’ve always loved reading, I wanted to be a librarian. I never had the imagination to write stories of my own, but I still wanted to surround myself in books.”

“Why can’t you be one now?”

“I love my job at the café. It may not have been my dream job as a kid, but my boss is nice, and my coworkers are really cool. I feel more at home there more than I do my own apartment.” Ava said with a chuckle.

“Do you feel at home here?” Katie asked. Ava could sense the worry in her voice.

“Yeah, Katie. I feel at home here.” Ava said after a moment of thought.

“That’s good. Why don’t you feel at home at your apartment?” Katie asked as she walked over and sat next to Ava. “Is it because you live alone?”

“Yeah. Being alone all the time isn’t fun.”

“I don’t like being alone either. That’s why I left my old house.” Katie said looking at the floor.

“Wait, what do you mean?” Ava said, completely taken aback.

“Before Daddy took me in, I was alone at my house all the time. One night, they didn’t come home so I went to look for them and I got lost. When I saw Daddy, I got scared since I didn’t know who he was, so I ran to hide under the bus bench. He went into the nearest toy store and he bought me Mr. Hoppington!” she said grabbing Mr. Hoppington from off of her bed and hugging him before continuing her story.

“He gave me Mr. Hoppington before he sat down. I crawled out from under the bench and sat beside him. I told him what happened, and he offered to take me to find my parents. I told him no. My parents aren’t very nice people, so I didn’t really want to go back home. Instead, he brought me here and that’s when I met Danny and Jo! He adopted me soon after and this has been my home ever since. I couldn’t be happier.” She finished as she gave Mr. Hoppington a big hug.

“Your parents were mean to you?” Ava asked.

“Yeah. They weren’t really home but when they were, they were always mad. My dad would get mad and hit me or my mom. My mom didn’t hit me or anything; she mostly pretended I wasn’t there. She yelled at me sometimes but only when I got in her way.” She explained with a shrug. Ava felt her blood boil. This child was 3. Superior intellect or not. She was 3 fucking years old and her parents were pulling shit like that; if Katie were any other 3-year-old, she wouldn’t have survived. Ava wanted to wring Katie’s parents’ necks, but since murder is illegal, she decided against it.

“But everything’s okay now! Daddy took me in, and he would never let anything bad happen to me or anyone else in our family” Katie added as she leaned against Ava.

“I don’t know much about your dad, but I can tell that you kids are his whole world.” Ava said petting her hair.

“You’re part of our family now too, Ava.” She said looking up at her.

“Your dad isn’t gonna adopt me, hon. I’m much too old for that.” Ava said with a chuckle.

“No, silly. I meant you’re our family in a different way.”

“Am I that poor aunt that crashes on your couch sometimes?” she joked earning a little giggle from Katie.

“Of course not, you can be our mom.” She said with an innocent smile.

“You kids are hellbent on getting me and your dad together aren’t you?” Ava asked with a smirk. Katie batted her eyelashes innocently. Ava chuckled and shook her head.

“Anyways, now that Mr. Hoppington is back from his doctor’s appointment, you won’t have to worry about helping them with their science fair projects. The winner gets a new outfit and a chance to impress the best scientist ever.” She said.

“Really? Who’s the best scientist ever?” Ava asked.

“Uncle Edwin. He judges all my science fairs since he’s the greatest scientist of all time.” She said skipping over to rearrange her toys.

“Your uncle’s name is Edwin?”

“Yeah, Daddy’s parents weren’t very creative. He prefers to be called Eddy to avoid confusion between the two of them. You’ll get to meet him if you come to their birthday party on the 31st.”

“Ed’s birthday is at the end of this month?” she asked, shocked. Ava would be back at work by then so she could get him a gift if she had money left over after bills. She had no idea what he wanted but luckily, she had 2 weeks to figure that out.

“Yup. Daddy doesn’t really care about his birthday but we’re still gonna have a party. I’ll let you know when we start working it.” Katie said as she finished setting her toys up.

“You kids are planning it by yourself?”

“Mhm, I’m in charge of planning and food, Danny is doing design, Jo’s in charge of set up and distracting Dad so we can set up and Ben is in charge of invitations.” She said taking her clipboard off of her little desk and showing it to Ava. It was a surprisingly well thought out for a couple of kids, she was impressed.

“Impressive. Not many adults plan parties this well, much less a 3-year-old.” Ava said handing the clipboard back to Katie.

“Not many adults are as intellectual and determined as I am to make every one of my daddy’s birthdays better than the last. Besides, this is the first of many birthdays that Daddy is gonna spend with all of us and I want to make it special.” She said looking at the plans fondly. Ava smiled softly. Katie reminded her of herself when she was little. Course, her intelligence was far from Katie’s but when it came to the love she had for her family, they were one in the same. Ava remembered the time she’d tried to plan her parents’ anniversary dinner at 6 years old; that was the day she learned that play dough pizza and dinosaur nuggies were not an acceptable dinner menu. She softly chuckled at the thought.

“I guarantee that anything would be amazing as long as it’s with you kids.” She said.

“And you, Ava! You’re part of our family now so you have to join us when we’re spending time together.” Katie said, taking Ava’s hands and doing a little hop. Ava smiled and combed through Katie’s hair with her fingers.

“Sounds good to me, sweetheart”

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