Tennyson opened the door in the hopes of checking out the garden round the corner. Three young faces with beaming toothy smiles pressed towards him, akin to the orphans of Oliver Twist holding empty bowls and asking for more.
“Well, hello,” he said. Glancing over his shoulder, he breathed a sigh of relief that the couch and recliner were free of clutter. “Come in, come in!”
Kai shook her head with a smile. “As if they were going to give you a choice.” The two siblings embraced – Tennyson with both arms, Kai only one.
He took a step back. “I didn’t need anything, Sis.”
“Talk to the children; I’m just the ‘caddy.’”
Maddison squealed. “Don’t spoil it Mom!” Tennyson loved the slight whistle that escaped his only niece’s lips. It reminded him of their childhood, during walks to and from the park.
Before Kai could correct herself, Tennyson saw a paw, then another emerge from the canvas tote.
Nathan, the middle child, came to the rescue, followed by Lucas. Maddison squeezed in between them both and grabbed what was hers – or so Tennyson thought.
“For you, Uncle Tenny,” Lucas said, holding a black kitten. “Sergeant Pepper reporting for duty.”
“And Major Tom, sir!” Nathan said with a salute, an orange tabby in hand.
Tennyson saw his sister trying to stifle a laugh as he found himself trying to hold the proffered kittens in his arms. “Oh no, I couldn’t,” he said. Maddison pulled on his shirt sleeve. He looked down.
“Here’s Hoorah. She’s a loo-… a loo-… Mom?” Kai leaned down and whispered the word sought to be repeated. “Lieutenant Hoorah. She speaks dog. And bird. And I don’t know what else.”
He lowered himself so the four-year-old could place the slender brown cat in his arms. “Well hello Lt. Uhura. Um, you-.” The kids led (pushed) Tennyson to have the center seat on the couch before they surrounded him on either side. Maddison sat on his lap.
He gave up trying to keep the kittens in one place. Maddison buried her face against Lt. Uhura, purring beside her. “Are you sure? I mean, I’m sure they would love to run around a bigger yard and-.”
Lucas spoke over his brother. “They’re for you. Sgt. Pepper will keep you from getting lonely and Major Tom will keep you grounded here on Earth. Lt. Uhura’s job is to keep hailing frequencies open and-.”
“Hey-,” Tennyson protested.
“See? ‘Hey-ing frequency” Kai said as she made herself comfortable in the recliner. “They know how to pick the perfect housewarming gift. Welcome home.”