March 10, 2008
By Emily Hager, Statesboro, GA

I grab my keys and stomp towards the garage.
“Where the hell do you think you’re going?” my mother screams, her stilettos clicking down the hallway after me.
“I don’t know,” I say, flinging open the door. “Away from you and this God-awful party.”
“This party,” she says, jabbing her be-ringed finger in my face, “is for you, young lady, and I am sick and tired of your attitude!”
“You didn’t ask if I even wanted a party!” I snap as I hoist my duffel bag onto my shoulder.
“Zady, everybody has a sixteenth birthday party,” she says.
“I do have one,” I say. “I’m just not there.”
“That’s where you’re wrong,” she says. “You will go to the party and be gracious to the guests because this party cost me thousands and thousands of dollars.”
“Out of the millions and millions of your divorce settlement,” I say, gritting my teeth and clenching my fist so hard I can feel the chiseled edge of my car key bite into my palm.
I turn on my heel and walk into the garage, slamming the door behind me. I get in my silver Lexus. I crank up the engine, and the GPS screen flickers on, asking me where I am going.
I turn off the GPS and pull onto the highway. I roll down the windows and turn off my lights and ride in the total darkness, the wind washing my face and whipping my hair free.
No one else is on the highway, so I drive until I have no idea where I am. Here they can’t make me talk to the lawyers or the reporters and they’ll never know if I would have chosen to live with my mother or my father.
That was the only question the lawyers asked me. It was the one I couldn’t answer.
They never wanted to know how it felt when my father moved out, not even taking a picture of my mother or me. They didn’t ask what it felt like to see my mother’s ring finger naked after all these years. She has a tan line from where her wedding ring used to be.
I could have answered those questions.
The sun comes up over the hills. The asphalt in front of me is burnished pink, then gold. There are trees all along the side of the highway, and I can smell the pine.
I think I’ll pull off at the next exit, pick up an application at a McDonald’s or a Burger King, full of questions I can answer.

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