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Her eyes widened, and a hush swept through the kitchen, startled and abrupt. Mom hid her face, Vannah, beside her, shook her head. Dad watched me stoically, and waited. Everyone else stared, expecting an apology, or an explanation. I felt my face go hot, my hands clench and tense, and I squeezed past them, sliding into my room and huddling against the door, covering my ears and everyone spoke again. I heard the venom being thrown, the harsh words replacing any hope of a happy familial meeting. I blocked it out, refused to hear. I searched my room wildly, my eyes settling on the card that was stuffed in my mirror.
Signed Vannah. She was so stupid.
The card on the front had a huge frickin’ yellow smiley face, and underneath him it said ‘Get Well Soon’, like I’d been sick. Idiot.
I pulled my knees to my chest and felt the first knock as someone hit my door, bouncing against my back. “Go away,” I mumbled, and then they tried opening it. I pushed against, bracing my foot against the wall and pressed my back to the door.
“Izzy.” My eyes flew open. Dad. “Open the door, Izzy. For me.”
I stood and sat on the edge of my bed, and waited. He entered and closed the door behind him and settled beside me, nodding to himself and sighing deeply. I watched him–this man that contributed to my creation, damn him–and pursed my lips. Within a year, he had erased himself from my life, from Vannah’s and Mom’s, and yet he was the one to come up and sit with me, like I was still his responsibility. I thought so, but I was sure he didn’t.
I leaned against him tentatively, and he put a careful hand on my shoulder. It more or less hovered above my shoulder, but it was there nonetheless. A simple offering of, “You’re not a total screw-up, so I still sort of kind of maybe love you.” He didn’t say anything, and we just sat there in silence, listening to the music that was our family in the kitchen.
“Pour me another.”
“Who put on this song? Turn it off.”
“That boy ain’t right.”
“Oh, don’t wag your finger at me.”
“...ruined the whole thing.”
I covered my ears and squeezed my eyes shut tight. Get me out of here, get me out of here, get me out of here, getmeoutofheregetmeoutofheregetmeoutofhere. SHUT UP.





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