Today's Reading

'Is everything all right?' I asked.

'It's more than all right,' Dad said. A big, bright smile spread across his face and I watched in horror as he placed his hand on my mother's thigh. Her actual, upper thigh. And then he squeezed.

'I could definitely use some shut-eye.' I stood swiftly, scooping up my socks and getting an unfortunate whiff of myself as I stood. Some shut-eye and a shower. 'Didn't really get a lot of sleep on the plane.'

And if my dad's hand didn't stop creeping up my mum's leg, I might never sleep again.

'Before you go anywhere,' Dad took Mum's teacup and placed it back on the tray. 'We've got a surprise for you.'

'I think you're going to like it,' she added, a happy pink flush in her cheeks.

It was exactly what they'd said when they told me Mum was pregnant with Jo. If she hadn't been very vocal about going through the menopause several years ago, I would have been quite concerned.

'Come on, this way.' Dad stood up and beckoned me through to the conservatory. I followed as he opened the French doors and made his way down to the bottom of the garden.

'Shoes on,' Mum ordered as I made to follow in my bare feet. 'It rained earlier and the grass is wet. I don't want you catching your death on your first day home.'

'It's a thousand degrees out there now,' I muttered but I did as I was told, going back to the kitchen for my trainers before following them outside.

Ducking low under the washing line, I met them both at the bottom of the garden.

'What do you think?' Dad asked, gesturing to a new shed with an out-of-character flourish.

I looked at the shed. Mum looked at the shed. Dad looked at the shed.

'It's a shed,' I stated.

'It's not a shed,' Dad said with a stern look. He produced a shiny silver key from his pocket and waved it in front of my face. 'Go on, open her up.'

Tired as I was, I took the key and offered them a wan smile in an attempt to show willing before I blocked up their Jacuzzi jets with half a bottle of Mum's Badedas. There was an upside to your dad running a company that installs bathrooms and that upside was the massive soaking tub in their en suite that I'd been dreaming about for the duration of my overbooked, overnight flight, stuck in the middle seat of the middle row for eight very long hours.

I pushed open the flimsy door.

It was not a shed.

It was every item from my childhood bedroom, taken out of the house and painstakingly reconstructed in a damp, prefabricated structure at the bottom of my parents' garden. Double bed, wardrobe, chest of drawers, Postman Pat beanbag and all.

'I  I don't get it,' I stammered, looking back into the garden where my parents beamed back at me. How had they got my enormous knotted pine bedframe into this tiny space? 'Why is all my stuff in here?'

'You know your dad loves a project,' Mum said, gazing up at my father with an expression I'd only ever seen in our house that time we all watched Memoirs of a Geisha. It was an uncomfortable evening and I didn't care to be reminded of it. 'He built this all by himself!'

'Peter Mapplethorpe helped a bit,' Dad corrected reluctantly.

'Are they repeating Grand Designs again or something?' I asked. I lingered in the doorway, key still in hand, so confused.

'Yes but that's not the point,' Dad replied, gently but decisively shoving me inside. 'What do you think?'

What did I think?
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