Father Knows Best, By Kathy Guttosch
but sometimes he just goes on and on.
And you have to watch for those
Black moods of his.
The last time I argued I was tired of pirouetting,
he whisked me
straight into this cardboard prison and
appointed wax swans my guard.
Told me to keep quiet, or else.
So when I saw the soldier--
that earnest, odd fellow with the steadfast gaze--
I knew he'd be my rescuer.
As the old tin spoon, he might've stirred
Last week's frikadeller;
now he stirred my heart.
I reached toward him, caught him. Owned him.
He wore his red and blue with such pride that I hardly noticed his one leg.
But my father did.
Oh...he warned the resolute soldier away from me--
warned him that very night.
Pops caught him
peeping at me, no less.
Told him to keep his guns to himself.
But the soldier said not a word in his defense--chagrined, I guess.
And I began to wonder if he was my savior after all
if he couldn't stand up to
the old man.
Of course my friends never heard any of Father's threats, for
it was and they were all
out and about the room, enjoying their rave.
Which is where I wanted to be
The very next morning, the soldier took off--
flew right out the window.
I half expected it;
my father broke up my relationship with that nutcracker--
why should this be any different.
Still, the tin soldier left without even a tip of his cap, and that did truly
He seemed so steady, after all,
and I thought myself a better judge of character.
Dearest dad did take the time to come by the castle after lunch,
to say, "Told you," and snicker.
To which I gave him a good raspberry, a paper cut, and dashed away
behind the swans,
who did not like him a bit.
Finally, he growled, and left me to my ponderings.
I must admit, I was jealous of the soldier--
he was free now--free.
Adventuring...heaven knows where he'd go,
while I'd be stuck here.
I sat beside a swan and sulked.
Then just before supper it all turned upside down:
cook carried the soldier back
into the nursery and set him on the table.
All were amazed.
See, I wasn't a poor judge of character
for here he was, come back to me.
I reached out to him once more.
His face, though somewhat weary, still glowed with adoration.
I stared at my father. He was hiding behind a child, his face all
Then in a flash, I understood everything.
I straightened my blue sash and whispered at my father, dark as I could,
Next thing I knew
I was riding the wind into the soldier's steadfast arms.
Flames were all around us, embracing us,
but I was finally free.
Writer, artist, and rumored to knit sweaters for faeries, Kathy lives in a small house with her own Handsome Prince, an iconoclast teen (who also writes and draws), and two cat overlords.
Image detail from illustration originally by Harry Clarke.