“Are you coming this afternoon?”
Mom spins around to face me, sloshing coffee on her I mean businesssuit. She rushes to the sink and rips off half a roll of paper towels to wet them. “What’s this afternoon?” she asks, dabbing at the dark stain.
I stop fingering the place in my paddock boot where the stitching is coming undone and let my foot drop to the floor. “The show.” I hold back the irritation in my voice, but I can hear the edges of it. I’ve learned that never helps my cause with mom.
She slams the wad of wet towels in the trash. “I can’t, Cory.”
Our eyes meet.
Hers cut away first. “I’m scheduled to sit an open house all day today,” she says.
“But you said—”
She flicks the wet spot in two, fierce strokes with the back of manicured nails. “Don’t start.” Her eyes bore into mine and this time I look away. Outside, beyond the pool, Hershey sprawls in the shade. His pink tongue stands out against the dark chocolate color of his body. Mom’s words float back to the edge of my consciousness. I don’t really have to listen. I’ve heard them before.
“Maybe you haven’t noticed, but home sales are down.” Sarcasm. “And that arrogant jerk of a boss is not giving me any of the good listings anymore.” Her mouth forms a hard line. “I’m stuck sitting at a low-end listing all day hoping for crumbs.”
“But a parent has to be there. I need someone to sign the release, or they won’t let me ride.”
“Ask your father.”
Your father. He doesn’t have a name anymore. Not even Dad.
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