This is the second part of a fiction serial, in 755 words.
Father did not appear to do anything to cause Mrs Foyle to be so afraid of him. Admittedly, his manner seemed curt, and his interaction with her was businesslike and superior. But to my knowledge, he never shouted at her, threatened her, or intimidated her in any way. He paid her well too, and allowed her time off when required. She didn’t have to concern herself with me, as sitters and minders were employed separately. But despite all that, she was undoubtedly terrified of him. Perhaps she needed the job so badly that she feared losing it? She was a widow, and not well off, by the look of her. She had never once seemed to be afraid of me, despite my facial similarity to father.
For some reason, that upset me. I wanted her to fear me.
I continued to grow slowly, always feeling rather weak and tired from lack of nourishment. My performance at school suffered as a result of course, but my poor school reports were never a matter of concern to my father. However, I grew something inside, a burning resentment of father’s poor treatment of me that became a quiet hatred as I passed into my teens. Sports and games at school were beyond my capability, and that was eventually noticed by the authorities. Letters were sent, and I was called into father’s study one day. He told me in no uncertain terms that I was not to engage with anyone at the school about my weight or development. It should always be referred back for him to deal with.
Some years later, I discovered papers revealing that he had paid a doctor friend of his a substantial sum to verify that I had some kind of illness that could not be accurately diagnosed. He referred to it as M.E., and added sufficient scientific mumbo-jumbo to dissuade anyone from investigating further. After that, I was excused any physical activity at school, though I received extra support with my studies, treated as if I was some sort of invalid.
There were no friends in my life. Nobody was allowed to come to the house, and I was banned from visiting anywhere else. Both were pointless anyway, as no other boys at my school showed any desire to befriend me. If anything, they avoided me, presumably thinking that they could catch whatever it was I was supposed to have. Sometimes when I got too close to someone, I could sense a moment of fear as they thought I might touch against them. They didn’t exactly fear me, but feared what I might have.
That was a good thing. I enjoyed seeing their fear.
The only social life I had known was the company of those minders and babysitters when I was young. But they mostly watched television, earning their money easly, and leaving me to read a book, or play with some of my few toys. One of the kinder young women remarked to me that I never cried. She asked me why I didn’t, and I had to admit that I didn’t know. Once I was ten years old, father told me that I no longer needed watching, and I should learn to look after myself.
As a result, I spent most of my time at home sitting alone in my room. It was a good room, it has to be said, probably larger than the flats many people lived in. It had once been two large rooms at the top of the house, and at the insistence of mother Paula, it had been converted into a subtsantial sleeping area and adjoining playroom, ready for my arrival. What had once been a walk-in dressing room had been made into a bathroom before I was born. She had been thinking ahead. So I was self-contained, with the only change over the years the replacement of my cot for a single bed.
I only ever left that room to go down for meals. It was where I felt at home.
There was no TV in my room. I didn’t really like to watch anything, as most shows or films eventually showed families or couples being affectionate, joking, or enjoying activities together. That sort of thing had never been a part of my life, so I chose not to be reminded that it was normal for almost everyone else. I preferred books, non-fiction ones. Other than the compulsory books for school, I didn’t read novels.
They often had happy endings.