by Lynette Combs

     "What are you doing, Geoffrey?"  Naomi, restless after her
afternoon nap, came over to where several of the children were
pounding clay into decidedly peculiar shapes.
     Geoffrey looked up at the five-year-old, his brown eyes
shining.  "I'm making a present for Father's Day."
     "Father's Day?  What's that?"
     "Haven't you ever heard of Father's Day?  It's a holiday --
like Winterfest."
     Her eyes widened.  "Father has his very own holiday?"
     "No, silly." Kipper, nearby, laughed at her.  "It's a
holiday for everybody's father."
     "Do we get presents?"
     "No," Samantha answered.  "We give presents -- "
     " -- To our fathers," a boy named Julio finished for her. 
"I'm making my father an ash-tray."
     "And I," eight-year-old Jannie announced, gaily waving her
leather-punch, "am making mine a belt."
     Naomi regarded them all rather forlornly.  "I don't got a
father to give a present to."
     Jannie, who had been born Below and was lucky enough to
still have both her parents, made a sympathetic face.  "Did he
     "No."  Naomi frowned.  "I just never had one."
     "Everybody's got a father," Julio told the little girl
     " -- Don't worry, Naomi," Geoffrey reassured her quickly. 
"You don't have to have a real father, to celebrate Father's
     "But then who am I supposed to give a present to?"  It
occurred to her, suddenly, that Geoffrey was an orphan too.  "Who
are you giving yours to?"
     "Father."  He held up a still rather lopsided lump of clay. 
"I'm making him a pen-holder.  See," he explained, "you can give
a present to the person who acts like your father.  Somebody who
takes care of you, and keeps you safe --"
     " -- And makes you eat your vegetables," Kipper added
     " -- And scolds you when you're bad," Samantha put in,
     "Oh."  Naomi looked relieved.  
     " -- So Mouse is making something for Father," Kipper joked,
"'cause Father scolds him all the time!"
     In the ensuing laughter, Jannie asked, "What is he making?"
     "Nobody knows," Kipper shrugged.  "Nobody can tell -- but
he's been soldering it for days and days."
     Naomi looked at him enquiringly.  "Sodd... sodd...?"
     "Soldering," he repeated.  "It means, um... he's been
sticking metal stuff together with blue fire."
     Her eyes widened.  "Really?  Can we do that?"  She looked
around expectantly, as though hoping to see one of them using
such a tool.
     "No, 'course we can't... but Mouse can."
     "You can make something with clay," Geoffrey offered.  "I'll
help you."
     "Okay... but what do you think I can -- "
     "Wow!" Zach interrupted, bursting into the chamber and
startling them all into silence.  "You should see the storm that
just started, up in the Park."
     "Thunder and lightning?" Samantha asked.
     "Thunder and lightning to the max," he agreed.  He shook a
few droplets of water from his sleeves for emphasis.  
     "What were you doing up there?" one of the other children
asked him.  "It'll be suppertime soon."
     "I was looking at the sunflowers."
     "Sunflowers?"  Naomi turned to him wide-eyed.  "What are
     "Big ol' yellow flowers," Kipper answered, pleased to share
his knowledge of the world Above.  "Taller than me.  The tops are
as big as your head, just about.  Haven't you ever seen one
     Awed at the idea of flowers "as big as your head," Naomi
said, "Why do they call them that?  Do they really have the sun
in 'em?"
     He shrugged, his dark eyes twinkling playfully.  "I don't
know.  I bet they could have, though.  Any flower that big is
probably part magic, anyways."
     Samantha turned to Zach.  "Where are they?"
     "They're up by the Columbus Circle end," he said.  "You
know?  By that tall metal latticework, like a fence?"
     "I know where that is!" said Naomi, excitedly.  "Can we go
see them?"
     "What now?"  He flopped down in the nearest chair.  "Are you
kidding?  I told you, it's raining cats 'n' dogs outside.  We'd
get soaked."
     "But I want to see them!"
     "It's too late," he said firmly.  "By the time I got you
back, we'd probably miss supper, and then we'd both be in
     "Here, Naomi," Geoffrey said, trying to avoid the threat of
tears or a tantrum.  "Take some clay.  Make something for
Father's Day."
     "Is that tonight?"  Zach looked startled.  "I forgot all
about it."
     "Well, you better get started on your present, then,"
Samantha warned him.
     "See, Naomi, I really can't take you topside now," he said. 
"I've got to rush to finish making what I was thinking of."
     "I'll help you make something, Naomi," Eric said.
     "But I don't know what to give!" she wailed.
     "C'mon, Naomi," Kipper groaned, "don't be such a baby. 
You'll think of something."
     "No, I can't" she said stubbornly.  "Besides, I want to go
up in the -- "
     "No," Zach told her firmly.  "I said maybe we'll go
tomorrow, and that's that.  Okay?"
     The children went on with their work, talking amongst
themselves as they did so.  And the next time Geoffrey looked up,
Naomi had gone.

*     *     *     *

     It was Vincent later who, walking toward his own chamber,
heard the sound of sneezing coming from the doorway he'd just
     He stopped in his tracks; did a thoughtful about-face, and
stepped through the little doorway.  "Naomi?"
     The little girl looked up at him guilty, caught in the act
of wiping her nose upon her sleeve.  Her blonde hair was
plastered wetly to her head, her clothes soaked through and
     "Naomi," he said severely, "have you been Above?"
     At his tone she burst into tears.
     "All right," he said, his brow furrowing with concern as he
came  forward. "It's all right.  Did you get caught in a storm?"
     She came to him, nodding and gulping; and with a sigh and a
shake of his leonine head he peeled her out of her wet, chilled
clothes, scolding her gently and sincerely all the while; and
after toweling her briskly dry he put her into a warm nightgown.
     "All right," he said finally, taking her by her small
shoulders and standing her away from him.  "If there was a storm,
why did you go out?  I thought you didn't like thunder and
lightning."  In fact he knew that she did not, for before her
rescue to the tunnel-world she had spent too many nights Above
exposed to such storms.  "Naomi?"
     She hung her head (from which the yellow hair now stuck up
damply in all directions), unable or unwilling to answer. 
     "Not to mention," he went on rather more severely, "that you
know you're not allowed go go Above all by yourself."
     She began sniffling all over again.
     "All right," he said softly, "we'll talk about that later. 
Right now we're missing supper, and we're going to miss the
Father's Day celebration if we don't hurry.  Are you hungry?"
     She shook her head.
     "Well... perhaps some hot soup a little later, then.  Are
you ready to go?"
     She put up her arms to be carried.
     In the dining-hall, supper was already being cleared away. 
The children present were talking amongst themselves with an air
of suppressed excitement. Then, as Vincent settled Naomi between
himself and Catherine at Father's table, Eric walked up to place
the present he'd made, and wrapped in rags, on the polished wood
before the patriarch.  
     The others rushed to follow his example and soon there was
quite a pile before the old man.  "Well, thank you, thank you,
children," he said to all, his faded blue eyes twinkling. 
Elsewhere in the large chamber, other fathers were being
similarly honored.  
     Father began opening his gifts, exclaiming over every
misshapen ash-tray and pen-holder as though each was the first
ofits kind he had ever seen.  As he did so, Vincent glanced down
and was surprised to discover the seat beside him empty.
     He glanced around and then leaned over to ask Catherine,
"Have you seen Naomi?"
     Her green eyes widened.  "She was here a minute ago."
     At that moment Mouse came in  bearing his gift for Father. 
It was huge -- fully six feet tall -- and studded all over with
     "Dear God," Father whispered to Vincent, as the young man
set the thing ablaze, "what is that, do you suppose?"
     "It's a candle-holder," Mouse announced proudly to everyone
     "Well," Father replied, looking properly impressed, "I must
say, it is, er, magnificent, Mouse.  Really."
     The young man beamed.
     Cullen, leaning over to Jamie, whispered, "Good thing we
don't have a sprinkler-system in here.  Can you feel the heat
coming off that thing?" -- causing the people around him to cough
and snort with suppressed laughter.
     Kipper looked past them all toward the door.  "Hey, here
comes Naomi.  Where you been, Naomi?"
     -- But in truth, as she walked back toward them not much of
her could be seen.  She was carrying something; something large
and unwieldy, something covered by a large and tattered cloth.
     "What have you got there, Naomi?" Pascal called out as she
     "It's a Father's Day present," she replied.
     "Well, well," Father said as she came toward him; and "Well,
well," he said again as she went by, balancing the thing --
whatever it was -- carefully before her, so that she couldn't see
where to put her feet.
     She stopped in front of Vincent, whose eyebrows were rising
up into his wild hair with surprise.
     "It's for you," she whispered shyly.
     "For me?"  He could see only her eyes, which were shining up
at him over the top of the thing.  "What is it?"
     "Look and see," she said.
     The other children picked up the chant at once, clamoring,
"Look and see! Look and see, Vincent!"  
     Reaching out, he plucked delicately at the cover-cloth with
sharp nails; and as it came free he heard Catherine, at his side,
gasp with surprise.
     "A sunflower!" she exclaimed.  
     "A magnificent sunflower," he announced to the group, in the
ensuing hush. In truth it was huge, even among its kind; and he
thought, taking it gently from the child so that all could see,
that it surely must have been the largest in the Park.  "Is this
why you went Above?"
     She nodded her bright head.  "Zach told me they were there,"
she said.  
     Catherine leaned forward.  "What made you think of it?"
     Naomi looked to Vincent, her face alight with love. 
"Because Kipper said it was magic.  It might have some sun in it,
and... and you can't go out in the sun."
     "Oh," Catherine breathed, tears in her eyes.  "I see."
     "But Naomi," Eric said, frowning and oblivious to the
adults' finer sentiments, "this is Father's Day.  Why are you
giving Vincent something?"
     "You all said I could give something to the one who takes
care of me," she said, frowning back at him.  "The one who scolds
me, and makes me eat my vegetables.  Vincent is the one who does
that -- mostly -- so I'm giving this to him."  She looked up at
him worriedly.  "Did I do it wrong?  'Cause you're the one who
makes me safe."
     "No."  And he reached out with his free hand to sweep her up
into his lap. "No," he said, "you didn't do it wrong."
     "Happy Father's Day, Vincent," she piped, from the depths of
his great hug.
     And, "Happy Father's Day," whispered Catherine, at his side.

The End

About the Author

Lynette Combs is VERY well known in fandom for her fiction,
poetry and art.  Lynette is busy working on making everything
perfect for us at the 1996 Beauty and the Beast convention, A
Kingdom By The Sea.  We'll be reading more of Lynette's work in
future issues of Father's Online Library and a proper "about the
author" will be in those editions.