Miles thought perhaps it was a new game and forgot the curious sound of glass breaking as he held out his arms and followed Father’s voice, blind to the room and his parent’s sharp tone.
Father picked him up, turned him over his knee, and Miles began to wonder as he wriggled, wanting to sit up but held down by Father’s arm. He felt an impeding sense of dread but could not see through his sightless eyes to read Father’s face.
“I love you, Miles, and want the best for you,” Father said. “But you must learn to mind and your Mother and I told you the china closet is not to be touched. I am sorry, little one, but I must punish you though this hurts me as much as it does you.”
Miles jerked, letting out a torn cry of pain as Father’s hand slapped his bottom. He squirmed free, tears welling in his sightless eyes, feeling as if there were more slaps to come, and scrambled across the floor to the far corner of the room, his tiny heart thumping wildly in confusion. He felt a shadow fall across him and threw his arms over his face, feeling as if Father was a threat.
“Do not hit me,” he whimpered.
“I have not finished punishing you, Miles,” Father said.
Miles pressed himself further into the corner and shook his head, ashamed of the tears on his face. “No. No. Why are you hurting me? I thought you loved me!”
“I do love you. And because I love you, I must do this. It is for your own good.”
Miles pressed his face into his knees and sobbed. “But why? It hurts! I do not want to be afraid of you.”
Father fell silent. After a while he sat down and put his arm around Miles’ shoulders. Miles flinches, afraid for the first time in his young life of his parent.
“I am sorry,” Father said softly. “For hurting you. I love you. And you are right; the hands I use to guide you ought not be used to inflict pain. I will not hit you again.”
Miles felt Father wipe the tears from his cheeks and felt a little reassured.
“Do you love me?” he blurted.
Father’s voice sounded strange and Miles wished he could see his face. “Yes, I do, Miles.”
Miles relaxed at the words and leaned his head on Father’s shoulder. He smiled at the kisses on his cheek. He fell asleep minutes of quiet warmth later; did not feel Father carry him to bed or rub salve into his behind by way of a silent apology.
Miles never forgot the day Father spanked him. But he remembered every day afterwards when Father and Mother did not spank him and he smiled. He was loved.
Miles first appears in Down A Country Lane.
Photo by Jeremy Lishner on Unsplash