Summer turned into autumn, and the months turned into years.
Margie and I were watching Gigantor cartoons on the large black-and-white television after school. At 5:45 pm, we heard the footsteps at the back entrance. Father was home from work.
“I can’t believe that bastard Larry, my boss,” Father’s voice thundered.
“What happened?” Mother asked.
“Oh the guy is giving me ulcers. He tells me ‘I’ve got my eye on you’ and he sneaks up behind me and tells me what I’m doing is wrong. First he says, ‘Put this part onto the left side.’ Then after I do it, he jumps out of nowhere and says, ‘No, I told you to put in on the right side.’ I hate him. ”
“Well, can’t you just tell him that?”
“No, you don’t understand.” His voice deepened. “He only does it to me. Everyone I talk to about it says I’m crazy. I wish I didn’t have to work in that damn place.” He slammed down his lunchbox. “But I’m not gonna just quit—how would we keep the house? No, I’m not going to be like my father.”
“Your father wasn’t so bad,” Mother misspoke.
“What do you mean by that?! That bastard was always drunk, never paid his damn bills, we moved from house to house—oh no, we are not going to live like that.”
“Supper’s ready,” Mother summoned from the kitchen.
I inhaled deeply and forced myself to make steps toward the kitchen. I slowly sat myself down into my chair. As each serving bowl came by, I placed the food carefully onto my plate. My body stiffened.
I picked up the milk and poured it into my cup, but I didn’t stop in time and the milk overflowed. Smack. Father punched me in the upper arm. “What the hell is wrong with you, you clumsy fool?” I knew that he was not looking for an answer. “Clean it up. Don’t make more work for your mother.” I wiped up the milk and threw the napkin in the garbage bin. “Johnny, take that garbage out tonight, your mother shouldn’t have to do everything.” Father punched Johnny, and he flew across the room.
Mother glowed as she sat atop her pedestal, like a statue on display.