In a Gilded Cage
He is awaiting me in the entryway, somehow appearing to be comfortable in the antique ladder-back chair. This is indeed a horrid surprise.
“You were outside, Lucas.” Father must certainly have spies hidden throughout the property, watching me constantly and revealing my every movement. “You left the house without my permission.”
“You were asleep, Father. I did not wish to disturb you to ask for permission to explore the maze.” I push all of my breath into my voice in an effort to sound like my heart is light and free of guilt. From the way he scowls, I believe my effort has failed.
“There is no room for excuses, son. You broke a rule by leaving the building without my consent. There will be a consequence.” He smiles as if in an attempt to comfort me, and I can see long straight teeth hidden in his bushy beard. “We will take care of your punishment tonight. After we dine.”
I don’t try to fight the shiver of dread. I allow it to swallow my body and raise tiny bumps on my skin. “Of course, Father.”
The man stands. Every time he rises to his full height I am newly impressed by how large he is. And how small I feel. But I do not meet his eyes, as I do not want to break another rule. “Very well, Lucas. I must attend to some imperative business in the conference room. I suggest you proceed to your suite and busy yourself with music. It is far more constructive than playing like a child in the outdoors.”
“Shall I practice my flute, sir?”
“No. I would prefer that you spend the afternoon vocalizing. I will come upstairs to listen to your progress on ‘February Song’ in due time.” He clears his throat in a manner I find repulsive, but I do not flinch as I once did. “I will not knock before entering.”
I know precisely what his words suggest: when Father bursts into my room, it will be in my best interest if I am singing. Not daydreaming. Or doodling. Or longing for days gone by. I must be actively singing. “Yes, sir. May I be excused?”
“There is one more small issue, Lucas. I do not care to see your feet bare, especially not soiled like a child stricken with rural poverty, until I remove your shoes myself as I prepare you for bed.”
He then nods and gestures with his hand—I have been dismissed.