Lingering Influences

“You’re mom, is such a trooper,” my dad sighed. “She practically was a single parent,” he laughed as he looked around the dinner table, trying to catch the eye of one of his kids.

Max, the oldest, nodded slightly and gave him a half smile. “You were there too, dad.”

“Not like your mom.” Dad bobbed his head and lightly puffed his cheeks with his mouth in a firm line, much like a frog.

His eyes moved next to Chris, sitting across from him at the foot of the table. Chris glanced to his left at me, his usual smirk absent. Then he continued to shovel pasta into his mouth.

Now it was my turn. Dad tried to meet my gaze, but I resolutely attempted to stare through the milk glass. Like always, the liquid remained opaque.

“Don’t you agree, Tasha?”

My head swiveled around to look at him before I fully registered the use of my name. “What?”

“Ah, she’s answers!”

Max laughed and smirked at me.

Chris’s phone rattled on the table. “Hey, man,” he said as he answered it and stood up. “Now? Be there in 15.” My brother looked back at the rest of us. “Going to basketball.” He walked out of the kitchen.

Dad sighed again. “My kids don’t want to spend any time with me. They don’t respect me anymore.”

“That’s not true,” Max said, with a glance in my direction. There was a pause hanging over the table.

I looked up when I felt the air around me getting stuffy. They both were staring at me. “I don’t see why you’re making a joke of not being there for your children.” Before dad could say anything, I stacked up my dishes and crossed to the sink.

“Tasha,” my oldest brother snapped, but the sound was muffled by water running over my plate and silverware.

I headed to my room as my dad called, “Yeah, go hide away up stairs wasting time playing videogames.”

“I’m working on college essays,” I yelled back as I hiked up the steps two at a time.

In the safety of my room with the door firmly shut, I opened my laptop to the last saved document.

“My dad was the one who taught me to read from the Hobbit. I would have never loved books, never wanted to write, never learned foreign languages, never become the person I am now. Even though he wants me to go to a bigger school, he is the reason I am applying to the Professional Writing program at Champlain College.”

I stared at the paragraph for a few moments, watching the cursor blink on the white canvas next to the last period. Then I tapped Ctrl A. I looked at the completed essay, highlighted in blue. I waited a few more seconds. I tapped delete.

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