by Jim Harrington
First published at MicroHorror
I zipped my backpack and set it on the floor when Mom entered the kitchen. She wore a short, terrycloth robe and her hair was wet. I was pretty sure she’d shaved her legs, too. After she poured her coffee, I told her I was sick and unable to go to school.
“Do you have a test? Do you have to read something in front of the class? Is someone bullying you?” I answered no to all of her questions. “You don’t have a fever. Your skin color is good. You’re not throwing up. Are you having your period?” The rapid fire questions were typical of Mom when she was agitated. I shook my head. “Then there’s no reason why you can’t go to school.” She threw her hands in the air, splashing coffee on her robe, and strode out of the kitchen. “Be ready in five, young lady. You don’t want to be late again,” she said from half way up the stairs.
You would think Mom would have different questions by now. I tried--unsuccessfully--staying home the first Monday of the last three months. The first Monday was when Daddy flew to Des Moines to his company’s headquarters for some stupid sales meetings. It was also one of Uncle Jack’s days off from work. He wasn’t my uncle, really. He was our neighbor, and he was having an affair with Mom. I knew this because I ran home from school one day instead of eating lunch and peeked into a window. They were naked. Mom was bent over the kitchen table. Uncle Jack was standing behind her, swaying back and forth, his wanker (that’s what my friend Sara calls it) sliding in and out of Mom. My parents didn’t think I knew about sex because I was only in eighth grade, but I’d seen pictures on the Internet. Besides, Sara and I tried it with a cucumber once. We didn’t like it at first.
I told Mom I knew about her and Uncle Jack, that I’d seen them. She slapped my face and sent me to my room. That was two months ago. I thought if she knew I knew she’d stop. She didn’t. So today it was my turn to be the adult and end the affair. Sara said I should tell Daddy. I couldn’t do that. It would break his heart.
I opened my backpack, made sure Daddy's gun was still there, and zipped the bag shut.
“It’s okay, Mom. I’ll walk to school.”
“Are you sure, sweetie? I don’t want you to be late.”
“And I know why,” I mumbled.
“What? I couldn’t hear you.”
“I have plenty of time. See you this afternoon.”
I heard her voice, but not what she said. I was already out the door.
At the end of the driveway, I turned right and headed for school. Uncle Jack was sweeping off his porch, probably waiting for me to leave. I smiled and waved, certain Mom hadn’t told him I knew about them. “Have a nice day. See you later,” I said. He smiled and waved back.
I walked two blocks and sat on the bus stop bench. I figured twenty minutes would be enough time for me to wait. I rubbed the backpack, felt the gun.
Daddy will be so proud of me.