Once I set aside the drill, I gave my work a final once over. The hinges moved soundlessly as I opened and closed it, every inch perfectly stained and sealed. Dad would have done it in a fraction of the time- to say nothing of my father-in-law- but I couldn’t suppress the smile of pride tugging at the corners of my mouth. It helped, keeping my hands busy. Otherwise, my thoughts would begin to wander into unpleasant places.
I was in the middle of finishing up when I heard the pattering of feet and I felt a little blond angel hug my leg. “Daddy, it's din time,” she sang, “It's din time for daddies…” Her voice faltered as she looked past me into the shed. The entrance to the little bomb shelter was barely visible in the evening light, its hatch sagging open on its warped hinges. What remained of the lock and handle was a ruin of steel surrounded by clawing gashes in the metal. I was able to ignore it before, but now memories began to bubble up and churn nauseatingly in my head.
I quickly closed the shed and swept my daughter into my arms. “Oh yeah?” I asked with a levity I didn’t feel. “What are we having?”
“Crispy mac and cheese.” my brother called across the yard. “Just like the old pastor makes it.”
“Now that’s a treat,” I said. I gave my little girl a quick peck on each cheek and set her down. “You go get washed up and get started on setting the table. Daddy has to talk to Uncle Jeff for a minute.” Once she scampered into the house, Jeff slid the sliding door shut.
“Martha will be here in about fifteen minutes, give or take,” he said, handing me my phone. “The parish nurse offered to come in and talk to Sarah too, but I figured that might make things worse.”
“No, you’re right. It was nice of her to offer though,” I said with a grimace. She was a lovely woman and was good with children before her transformation, but her dripping tentacles would be a bit too much. “Thanks, bro.”
He waved it off with a smile, “Come on, let's get inside before the little munchkin tries to scarf down the whole thing.”
There wasn’t much else to do once the table was set. Nervous energy started roiling in my gut as we waited. Jeff played a quick game with Sarah and tried to coax me in too, but I couldn’t manage more than a halfhearted effort. After what felt like an eternity later, there was a knock at the door. “That’ll be her.”
“Mom’s home!” Sarah cried while she bounced up and headed for the door. Jeff gave me a reassuring pat on the shoulder, then we followed after.
My stomach twisted and knotted. I’d been dreading this moment all day. We prepared as best we could, but there was no guarantee Sarah had taken it to heart. With a steadying breath, I put my hand on the door handle and let my wife in. It went about as well as I expected.
The moment Martha came into view, Sarah bolted out of the room. Jeff immediately gave chase, calling behind him, “I’ve got the munchkin, you take her.”
I couldn’t blame our little girl, it was hard to recognize her, even for me. Gone were the modest curves I remembered, replaced by massive full breasts and hips wide as the day was long. Bovine ears framed her head and cloven hooves clacked against the hardwood. The small scars and other reminders of life's little accidents had been airbrushed away leaving only flawless skin.
However, the more you looked, the more the truth became apparent. The dark blond of her hair, her blue eyes, the smattering of freckles across her nose, her voice. The pain in her expression and the way she tried to center herself. Every little detail told the truth. If only I could convince our daughter.
My brow furrowed. I tried to think of something to say, anything, but she preempted me with a raised hand and a weak smile, “I know, it's okay. It’d be overly optimistic to come back and expect everything to just go back to normal.”
Memories of the past few days writhed underneath the surface before I tamped them down and changed the subject, “How are your parents taking things?”
She shrugged, setting her considerable chest in motion, “Dad is the same as ever. Mom complained about getting shorter and having to replace all her clothes, but she seemed content.” A smile spread across her lips, “Getting a few decades taken off isn’t a bad trade, even if it means having to shop in the little girl’s section. Especially compared to the alternatives.” An adorable look of chagrin formed on her face as she hefted her bosom, the flesh overwhelming her slender limbs and fingers, “I’m not going to complain, but I am going to need to replace my entire wardrobe too, and it is not going to be cheap.”
An impish thought crossed my mind. “That won’t be the only thing we’ll need to replace.” Her gigantic breasts pressed into me as pulled her close and let my hands glide across her hips. “With a figure like this, you’ll be getting caught in every door in the house. To say nothing of all the bits and bobs you’ll be knocking to the floor.” Her breathing hitched at my touch and she leaned into me. “Don’t expect me to be gentle if I have to pry you out and replace the door. You’ll be making a whole lot of extra work for me, I’ll have to think of appropriate punishment.” The yielding flesh against me became almost feverishly hot as I continued my ministrations. Her breathing shifted into beast-like panting as her eyes smoldered with need.
“It's not mom!” a voice screamed in the next room.
That ember of desire guttered out as quickly as it had come. We reluctantly separated and stood facing one another. I tried to think of something to say, but I settled for squeezing her hand and giving her a quick kiss, before heading off.
Jeff had managed to calm Sarah down a little by the time I found them, though her face was still reddened and wet with tears. “It’s not...” she grumbled as he passed her off to me.
“Sweetheart, it is her. You were talking to her on the phone all morning.” Her little fist thumped against my chest and clutched my shirt. “I know it's hard to accept, but it's like I told you earlier. Mom is struggling right now and she needs our help. And as much as she has changed, as much as she frightened you, she would never hurt you.” A petulant whine issued from her throat, but fatherly intuition told me I was making progress. “At the end of the day, it's still the same mom you always knew. She still thinks the same, talks the same, still loves pepper on popcorn, and still gets goofy about her little figurines.” She gave a short giggle that I felt more than heard and I kissed her soundly on the crown of her head. “Just give her a chance to prove it.”
For a moment I simply held and rocked her while she sniffled. “You wanna sit on daddy’s lap for din?” I whispered. She nodded her head, pressing her face into my shoulder. “Alright, let’s go have din.”
Dinner was a more tense affair than I would have liked. Things went well at first. Jeff was in his element, making small talk, telling jokes. He did his best to keep everyone engaged in the conversation. The promise of her favorite meal and the presence of myself and Jeff seemed to have placated my little girl. She even giggled a little at one of Martha’s retorts to Jeff’s teasing. But that came to an end, all too soon.
It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. My wife just reached over with a napkin to clean Sarah’s face. She’d done it so many times before, it must have been muscle memory. Now, it was enough to make Sarah panic and try to burrow into my chest. Coaxing her back into eating was relatively easy, but the air around the table struggled to recover.
Thankfully, the rest of the evening passed without any further incidents. Sarah stuck to me like glue for the entire time, but progress was progress. After Jeff left, I got her cleaned up and prepped for bedtime while Martha tended to dishes. The carbs had worked their magic and my little girl’s head was beginning to droop before we even made it to her room. Once Martha had joined us, all that was left was the song.
“Where does the sun go at night? Does it sleep like everyone else?” My wife hesitated before joining me after the first verse. I felt Sarah tense in my arms, but I just kept rocking her and singing along with her mother. Slowly but surely, she relaxed to the point I could pass her over.
Martha didn’t miss a beat, taking our daughter while continuing to sing. She had to adjust her hold a few times to account for her new figure, but our little girl didn’t stir. I let my voice trail off as she carried her to bed. Her singing faded into little more than a whisper as she laid Sarah on the bed and tucked her in with a kiss on the forehead.
She watched over her for a moment more, running her hands through Sarah’s hair, before turning out the lights and joining me at the door. Once the door was shut, she pulled me into a tight hug, resting her head on my shoulder. It wasn’t a perfect storybook ending, but it was a start.