Aunt Sophia is bent over the oven when I walk in the kitchen. She shuts the door, tosses a dishcloth on the counter, and takes a big swallow from a plastic cup by the sink. Then she spots me in the doorway.
“How was your first day?” Her voice is talk-show-host bright.
“Great,” I tell her and dump the pile of books on the counter so I can open the refrigerator.
“Any teachers you like?”
I take a swallow from the liter bottle and catch Aunt Sophia’s eye. She makes a face and pulls a glass out of the cabinet and hands it to me.
“They’re okay.” We’re not talking about what I want to talk about. Whether she knew Angela was getting out and why she didn’t tell me.
Sophia brushes by me to get something from the drawer under the stove. Pans crash together, filling the void with noise. She examines a skillet with rust around the edges, then bends to put it back. I toe the drawer shut.
“Did you know Angela was getting out?”
Sophia snatches up her plastic cup.
“Well, did you?”
She takes a small sip. “Angela might have mentioned something when I talked to her.”
“Uh, huh. Like, maybe, she said she was being released from prison a couple years early. Did she mention that?” I can’t keep the sarcasm from rising up and spewing out of my mouth. I know it won’t help my cause.
I’m right. She sets the cup down and a hand goes to her hip. Just like Angela. “Does it really matter when she gets out? Does it change anything? I don’t think so.”
I close my eyes and remind myself, she’s not my mother. “Aunt Sophia,” I start, take a deep breath, and make my voice even and flat. “The difference is if she got out a few years from now, I’d be older, and I wouldn’t have to go live with her.”
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