Margaret rang the doorbell while the rest of the family hung back. Keith stood beside but a little behind her, wearing an open necked shirt. Margaret had wanted to dress more formally but he had dissuaded her. He couldn't imagine a Saturday afternoon get together being a formal affair, not just to meet the neighbours.
Ben wore dark blue trousers (so as not to show any dirt he might get on them) and a new light blue shirt whose collar irritated his neck. He also wore his school shoes which he'd even been made to polish. His mother had picked his clothes out for him. Amy had picked her own clothes, a light dress in her favourite reddy pink colour with frills. She was the only one who was smiling cheerfully; the others were all smiling nervously.
Diane answered the door. "Margaret! Lovely to see you."
"This is my husband, Keith" said Margaret.
"Hello Keith!" said Diane extending a hand.
"Diane isn't it?" he said shaking it.
"This is Ben" said Margaret sounding a little embarrassed.
"I've been hearing all about you" said Diane, and Ben's expression turned from Sunday best politeness to fear 'What had she been hearing?' and 'From whom?'
Diane surprised him by leaning towards him and giving him a hug and a kiss. "He's a handsome boy" she said.
Ben blushed and looked at the floor. He wished adults didn't talk like that.
"And this is Amy" said Margaret.
"What a little darling" said Diane, giving Amy a hug and a kiss too.
"Hello, Mrs Weaver" said Amy brightly.
"Well come on in and meet everyone. Ben, Amy, the other kids are in the back garden trying to avoid us boring oldies, why don't you go and join them?" said Diane.
"And behave yourself, Ben" said Margaret.
Ben and Amy followed Diane's instructions and headed gardenwards.
"It's only Ben that has to behave himself?" asked Diane with a smile.
"No, Amy's always as good as gold. She doesn't need to be told. Ben on the other hand..." said Margaret.
"He's at a difficult age" said Diane sympathetically "Boys can get quite unruly when they become teenagers if they're not carefully controlled."
"Isn't your Alison his girlfriend" asked Keith. Margaret surreptitiously stepped on his toe.
Diane stared at him blankly "Alison?" she asked "A boyfriend? She hasn't said anything to me."
"Probably just childish, I can't imagine it means anything" said Margaret.
"She seems a lovely girl though" said Keith.
"Seems, maybe. Not so lovely when you get to know her better" said Diane.
"Doesn't seem the sort to get into any serious trouble" said Keith.
"You should see her when she's got a temper" said Diane.
"Well I can't see it doing Ben any harm" said Keith.
"You have to excuse my husband" said Margaret "He's at a difficult age"
"And have been since I was a teenager" said Keith with a broad grin.
"Well perhaps someone should have taken you in hand" suggested Diane, with an equally broad grin.
Victoria sat at the patio table shielded by an umbrella, sipping coke from a tall glass full of ice. With a big grin on her face, she watched Emily squirming. She had been caught by a boy who was the same age as Emily but who stood a good hand shorter. He was talking enthusiastically with his eyes fixed on her breasts.
"And you've got minions that follow you round and do stuff for you. But you've got magic and stuff as well, and you can fight yourself if you want" the boy said.
This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Mr Double's Palisade
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Changes last made on: Friday, February 09, 2018