Faith quickly attempted to regain her composure, a hint of embarassment tinged in her hesitant voice. “I — we are happy with the family we have, Butch. Don’t you agree, that God has blessed us already?”
Benjamin Goodman, who enthusiastically embraced the name of Butch over Benny after one to many joking requests to play me a tune, was typically passive, and had the current conversation with his stepmother taken place a few months ago he would likely have replied with a curteous yes, mam. But his demeanor had changed since the start of the school year; he had begun expressing his curiosity rather than supressing it. Of course you should ask questions — he was now hearing the voice of his fencing coach, Coach Dan, echo in his head — If you don’t understand why you should stand a certain way, hold your arm like such, execute a parry or attack the way you’ve been told, you won’t have any conviction when you try to do it in a bout. So please, my friend, ask questions! Don’t just do something because that’s what I said to do.
“But having more children — w0uld be a greater blessing, wouldn’t it?”
Faith blinked. “Butch, you — ”
“That’s enough.” Cyrus raised his elbows onto the table, cupped his hands together in front of his face, as if he were about to recite a prayer. Instead, he glared at Butch behind his penitent hands — “The Lord has told us that we are not to have any more children. We must obey the word of God — to even suggest that we attempt to make another baby, would be sin itself.” He lowered heavy hands down to the table. “You wouldn’t want us to live in sin, would you?”
“Oh!” Butch heard Faith adjust her body on her plastic chair. “No, sir.”
“Hallelujah.” Cyrus picked up his fork, used its edge to slice another bite from his meatloaf. “Eat your dinner, son.”
“Oh!” The teen looked quickly over at Fatih, who smiled weakly before looking down at her plate. He picked up his fork, then realized his plate was empty. “Can I have more?”
“Of course!” Faith reached to the center of the table, picked up the spatula that was resting in the empty side of the rectangular pan. “I’m glad you like it.”
“Meatloaf’s yummy.” He rubbed his enlarged belly. “You always cook it so nice.”
“That’s very kind of you.” She lifted a slice onto the spatula, reached for Butch’s plate.
“Did Mama Jan teach you this one too?” Last week Faith had told the story of how she’d learn the recipie for veal cutlets from her mother.
Faith froze, left arm extended toward Butch’s plate, right arm holding the laden spatula. She cast a waring glance across the table at Cyrus, who closed his eyes and grimaced.