“Martha, stop that dear. You’re being silly.”
“Yes, mother.” I cease fiddling with my dinner utensils and look outside. I can see the gorgeous garden spread out before me; a large window-pane separates me from the cold. “May I be excused?” I glance up expectantly. My mother smirks knowingly. While nodding her head she declares: “You may.”
I rush upstairs at top speed, determined to complete my project. As I simultaneously snatch up my laptop, I flop down onto my four-poster bed. Thirty minutes pass. A soft knock comes from my bedroom door. “Martha?” From the meek nature of the tone, I can discern that it is my younger sister, peeking in for her routine monetary inquiry. “Can I borrow $2? I want to get a Twix.” I nod gayly, produce the currency, and situate myself once more.
The next morning, as I stumble downstairs for breakfast, I happen upon my two brothers who are both caught in a spirited debate. One brags about how easy it is to hack a computer. The other insists that with enough technological development, such a task would fail. I leave the two be as I take my seat. A plate rests on the table. The heavenly aroma of gluten wafts into my nasal passages.
A voice booms “Good morning!” from the top of the stairwell. Us congregated ones come to attention as my father descends the stairs, impeccably dressed. He approaches the table with haste, intent on devouring a sliver of food before departing for work. After leaving a kiss on my mother’s cheek, he sits down. The six of us initiate our morning discussion. When the banter shifts towards me, I smile from ear to ear. “I am glad to announce that I have finished my dissertation.”
I hesitate. Silence fills the dining room. They wait to hear the rest. “I think....I think it’s good.” My mother’s lips turn upwards. Grasping for my hand, she insists. “Darling, we KNOW it’s good.” I blush towards the floor, grateful to have such a wonderful support system. I reestablish my composure, keen on receiving more praise.
“You’re....a spoiled brat.”
My face twists into confusion as comprehension fails me. My mother's eyes mercilessly shoot daggers into mines. Her grip on my hand tightens. Despite my crestfallen expression, she mimics the sentiment. “All of you! Spoiled brats! You never do anything I tell you to!” My face sags with distress. “I’ve never met such a spoiled bunch of kids in my life!” She drones on and on, her words becoming increasingly violent. My eyelids begin to flutter. I try to block the sound out, but the more my lids spasm, the louder the shrill becomes.
*Crash!* My eyes snap open in synch with this definitive sound. My mother continues to scream. It is the middle of the night. Three a.m. to be exact. I have school in the morning. “This kitchen is a hot mess! And all that I do for you! You guys wouldn’t dare try this if your stepfather was here!" Metalware hits the floor. It’s bone-chillingly cold. We couldn't pay the electricity bill this month. I look upon my sister, who rests on her side of the tiny room. The air reeks of cannabis. She's been smoking again. I focus my gaze on the ceiling. My jaw sets. My countenance turns grim. I want to go home. Yet, no matter how long I keep my eyes closed, I don’t return. In the house, I remain. Frigid and lonely.