Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1468348-That-Simple-Smile
by Jeff
Rated: E · Short Story · Parenting · #1468348
We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.
Katy rushed up the front steps two at a time, taking great pains to remain as quiet as possible. Tommy's car idled on the street as he waited to make sure she made it safely inside. They were way late.

If she could just get the front door open quietly and slip past her parents' bedroom, she'd be home free.

As she reached for the handle, the door swung open and caught her off-guard. Of course, her plan depended on her parents already being asleep in their room; which she noted was clearly not the case as her father stepped into view.

"You're late," he said flatly.

Before she could think of some plausible excuse, her father looked out to the street at Tommy's idling car.

"Since he's here, I might as well meet him."

Katy gulped.

When she waved him over, Tommy gulped too. He resisted the urge to floor it and burn rubber out of there. Instead, he killed the engine and nervously approached the front door as Katy's father turned and went inside.

The two teenagers followed him nervously.

Inside, Katy's father sat in his usual recliner, spinning it around to face the couch where his daughter and her boyfriend sat next to one another. He gave them a hard glare and motioned for them to separate, watching them scoot until each of them was on opposite sides of the couch, practically hugging their respective armrests. Satisfied, he sat back and appraised the two of them.

"Now, I'm going to ask the questions, and you're going to answer. Got it?"

Both of them swallowed hard and nodded. Katy's father turned to Tommy first.





"Grades?" Katy's father probed.

"Mostly B's and C's. But last semester I did get an A in..."

Katy's father silenced him with a wave of his hand.

"Don't need details, just the basics," he said.

Tommy suspected this must be what his brother felt like under the hot lights down at the police station that time they stole the principal's car. Only Katy's father seemed more intimidating than any police officer.

"What do you want to be when you grow up?" Katy's father continued.

"I haven't really thought about it."

"No plans? No aspirations for the future?"

"Howard? What are you doing?" Katy's mother asked as she entered the room, drawing a bathrobe tightly around her slight frame.

"Just getting to know Katy's new friend Tommy," he replied, staring hard at the boy.

"Getting to know," she said wearily. "Or interrogating?"

Howard looked down, guilt creeping across his face. He muttered something about just wanting to ask a few simple questions, but raised no objection as his wife looked at the two teenagers on the couch.

Katy's mother gave her daughter a stern look.

"What time is curfew?"


"And what time did you come home?" her mother prompted.


"Is this ever going to happen again?"

"No," Katy assured her.

"Then get on up to bed," her mother instructed. "We'll talk more in the morning."

Katy looked over at Tommy, glad to be out of the hot seat, but reluctant to leave Tommy alone with her parents. Still, she knew better than to argue.

"I had a really nice time tonight," she said to Tommy, a big smile spreading across her face as she stood up.

"Me too," Tommy replied softly as the same warm, affectionate smile spread across his.

Katy's mother watched the two of them, and her demeanor suddenly eased up. She recognized that simple smile; she knew it all too well.

"You can go too, Tommy. Next time, have my daughter home by curfew."

"Yes, ma'am. Thank you ma'am!"

He bolted out of the house just about as fast as his legs could carry him.

"But..." Howard protested.

"Leave them be, Howard."

"He's not good enough for her," Howard continued. "His grades could be better, he doesn't know what he wants to do with his life; our daughter shouldn't have to settle for average."

"Didn't you see that smile? They're in love."

Howard snorted. "How can you tell that from a smile?"

"Because of the way she looked at him... it's is the same way I still look at you, honey. Even after all these years." Katy's mother replied.

Howard sat there, considering her words.

"If you remember," she continued. "My father wasn't exactly your biggest fan either. But that didn't stop me from loving you any less."

"Besides," she grinned, "We had our fair share of late nights, as I recall."

Howard blushed a little as memories came flooding back.

"That we did," he chuckled. "That we did."

"So give your daughter and her boyfriend a break," she said. "Let them be teenagers for a little while longer."

Howard nodded in consent. She extended her hand, taking his affectionately and leading him toward their room.

"Come on, 'Dad'," she teased. "Let's get to bed."

Katy's mother looked over at Howard and smiled... the same simple smile that Tommy and Katy shared only moments ago.

(839 words)
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