Some assholes just shouldn't be allowed to be parents.
Andrea slammed the door of the kitchen cabinet. A shower of dust from the peeling paint spiraled in the sunbeam coming through the small, dirty window of the trailer home she lived in with her dad.
"Knock it off, smart ass," her dad yelled from his spot on the couch. He shifted and the already sagging piece of furniture threatened to dump him on the floor. "And hurry up with that grub. I'm hungry."
Wrinkling her nose, Andrea glared at the top of her dad's head. His greasy red and gray peppered hair stuck out in clumps as he rested against the arm of the couch. She tightened her grip on the wooden spoon in her hand for a moment, then turned to the stove and dipped it back into the macaroni and cheese boiling in the pan.
At least one of us is smart.
She tapped the spoon on the edge of the pot and laid it on the counter with a sigh. Same shit different day. The cliched story of her life. No wonder her mother had left. Not that she went to something better. Cranking the knob on the stove to off, Andrea pictured her mom's bloodshot eyes and dilated pupils on the day she made for the hills with her boyfriend/dealer.
Nope. She grabbed the strainer and drained the noodles over the sink. Dad may be an asshole but at least he didn't abandon his kids.
Returning the pasta to the pot, Andrea poured in milk and added the powdered cheese mixture. She mixed it, grabbed two bowls, and spooned a helping for each of them. The timer on the oven beeped and she opened it, using the old stained and torn potholders she'd made to remove the broiler pan of hot dogs. She curled her lip at the faded words I love you Mommy scribbled on the fabric in her own kindergarten handwriting then stabbed a hot dog with her fork and put it in each bowl.
"It's ready." She set his bowl on the end of the rickety card table closest to him and took the seat across from it. After pouring herself a glass of milk, she wolfed down spoonfuls of the food and glanced at the clock.
Her dad pushed up from the couch and stretched his arms above his head. He limped the ten steps it took for him to come into the kitchen, sending a wave of stale sweat and beer in Andrea's direction.
She glanced at his dirty white wife-beater and returned to eating. Her sore jaw from the slap he'd given her for last week's suggestion to take a shower had finally healed. If he wanted to smell like a pig farmer, whatever. She'd be gone soon enough anyway and could get fresh air then.
"This shit again?" He pointed to his bowl. "Can't you learn to make anything else?"
Andrea swallowed a bite, pushing the angry comeback down her throat with the food. "Nothing else in the cabinet. I need to go to the store."
"Then go. I'm tired of eating like a five year old." He stabbed his hot dog with a fork and ate half with one bite. "Get some steak or hamburger for Christ's sake."
"Sure. Give me some money and I'll go after school tomorrow." She checked the clock again. Ten minutes.
"You got money. I ain't giving you shit." He shoveled a heaping bite of noodles into his mouth. "I don't get my disability check for another week."
Small pieces of pasta flew from his mouth as he spoke. Andrea frowned as they collected on his beard.
"But I'm..." She cleared her throat. "I need to save money for college, Dad. Steak is pretty expensive."
He pointed his fork at her. "Maybe if you get your ass in gear and drop that mile time, you'll get the scholarship that damn school said they'd give you."
"I know, but--"
"Don't give me your bullshit. you lost every race last year to what's-her-face."
"Yeah, knew it was some stupid girly name." He popped the top on his bear and took a long gulp. "She's gone but you still didn't win."
Flashes of last year's cross country season flashed through her mind; Molly winning every invitational, Molly beating her at every home meet, Molly getting second at state while Andrea sat at home recovering from the beating her dad gave her after getting suspended for fighting.
Andrea knew she had deserved the punishment from school for what she did, for fighting Molly's best friend Cindy and missing state because of it. But her dad's abuse had re-opened old wounds--and old hatred. He hadn't left marks anywhere that would show, and at least left the extension cord out of it that time, still, he'd added to her motivation to improve and get the hell out of there.
She glared across the table. "I tried my best. I ran faster than last season."
"Wasn't good enough was it?" He drained the can and crushed it with his fist. Taking another bite, he shook his head. "You best get it together and get that money. I ain't gonna support a slacker after high school. You don't get that scholarship, your ass is gone after graduation."
Andrea pushed away her half-filled bowl. It wasn't her fault a new upstart freshman came in to replace Molly, leaving her in second place... again. Her dad's threat didn't scare her, she'd do whatever it took to get away from him anyway. As much as she hated school, college seemed like the only answer. Better than ending up like him.
"I have to go. Gotta be at work in half an hour." Standing, she grabbed her jacket and slipped her arms into the sleeves. At the door she turned back to him. "You might want to think about doing that some day, too. Once I'm gone, nobody will buy your damned food for you."
She rushed out, laughing at the sound of the crushed beer can hitting the closed door behind her.
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