The room was exactly like every other room in this place. Run down and mismatched looking like a tornado had swept through. It served as both our dining room and our living room. Mom loved watching The Bachelor on Monday, chili night, and always told me there was no point in a table when you had knees. Mom didn’t care about decorum. She kicked shoes over every inch of the room. A stiletto sat on the coffee table while its match was inside the fireplace we couldn’t afford to use. Her laundry hung from the mantle and off the back of the 80’s style red couch. Mom gathered up the loose articles from the couch and threw them on the coffee table before offering a seat to the man who walked out on us. She took a seat on the opposite end of the couch from him then patted the middle. I ignored her and fell into the oversized plaid chair at the opposite end of the room.
“So? Who’s going to start talking first? Me or you?” I stared at mom, but she kicked her feet at the coffee table leg and fidgeted with her bony fingers. She didn’t look up once.
“Your mother and I decided that you. . .”
“Shut up.” I kept my gaze focused on mom. She glanced up only to avert her eyes to the wine stain below the fireplace mantle. “I’m not talking to you.” My father’s eyes narrowed and his eyebrows formed a “v” on his forehead. He scowled across the room at me.
“How did you let your daughter get this way?” He stood and turned his back on mom and me.
“Our daughter, Jared,” mom whispered.
“She disrespects her authority and talks back as if she runs this place.” He bent down with his face inches from moms and accused her of losing control of me. My blood boiled as I watched mom cower from him. He came into our house and acted as if he were king demanding things be done his way. My fingers turned white and I exploded from my chair.
“It’s not her fault,” I shrieked. It took all of my strength to keep from lunging across the room at him. “You want to know why I am the way I am? Because of you. You caused all of this when you walked away from us, so don’t try to come in here after all of these years and expect everything to be okay.” I paced in front of the chair. “You don’t know anything about me and I don’t want you to. I don’t need or want you in my life.”
Mom shrank farther back into the couch picking at her nails. My lips formed a line and the hair on my arms was standing on end. Jared stood stone still. His dark features blazed. There was also a hint of something else in his eyes, maybe awe.
“I will not be spoken to like that from you, young lady. I am your father, and I deserve your respect.” His scowl deepened and his arms formed an iron grip in front of him. “Sit down and keep your trap shut.” I didn’t budge. I cocked my head to the side and snickered at him. “Now!”
Mom looked up then and met my eyes. She gave me a small nod. “Please, Jacks.” Her voice was so feeble. I kept my grimace but sat back into the chair. Jared grinned and took his place on the couch again. Mom averted her eyes and I was left with only Jared present in this conversation. He turned towards me placing his hands into his lap.
“You are coming with me to New York. You will be there indefinitely, and you will finish the remainder of high school there.”
I tuned Jared out. He was going on about this person or that. His wife, Ruth was it, would be excited to meet me and I’d have plenty to do in New York. His voice droned on in a monotone explanation of things and my mind drifted towards my Christmas plans. It would be my first real vacation. A cruise to the Bahamas with a friend. Her parents even offered to pay my way.
“We will be leaving this Friday, but I’ll have someone flown out to pack up and ship the rest of your things to you,” he finished.