Two Shorts

I Walk

Every three days I walk to Dad’s; I walk to Mom’s. It’s what goes down when divorced parents live five minutes apart—light years apart in other ways. Mom doesn’t own a TV and Dad’s is stuck on sports. She got the books and he got the outdoor grill, though summer ends without anything grilled. I walk to Dad’s; I walk to Mom’s. Mom shows up late at my tenth grade teacher conference to learn how behind I am; Dad shows up for soccer, pissed that I’m often on the bench. I bike to Dad’s; I bike to Mom’s. He’s a neatnik—everything in its place—his rules for my room a pain in the ass. Mom’s a slob—her dump could use a garage sale. Dad calls her a hoarder. I bike to Dad’s; First I walk to Zoe’s, then I walk to Mom’s. Dad drinks a half bottle of vodka a day—and it shows. Mom drinks twenty cups of coffee a day—and it shows. I bike to Dad’s; its raining so my buddy Zack picks me up. Mom lets the laundry pile up; Dad says you’ve worn that shirt four days in a row. Mom’s wi-fi is wonky; Dad’s computer is missing the X. Zack drops me off at Dad’s; I walk to Zoe’s to break up, then to Mom’s. Mom says count the vodka bottles in the trash. Dad says count mom’s purses; I think he sold my bike. I walk I walk I walk I walk. Couch-surfing to San Francisco takes two weeks. Those hills are a different kind of walking, but it feels like home.

So High School

I ask my son what grade we got on his history paper. He doesn’t want to say. When I threaten not to help with his next essay, due in a week, he is still cagey about our grade. I have to weasel it out of him. A measly 66. He’s alarmed when I suggest he take this up with his teacher. Anyway, he says, it’s dad’s turn to help with the next paper. This makes me suspicious. So, I ask, just what grade did you and your father get on the social studies essay? His father is in the next room watching Jeopardy. I’ve been half-listening as he shouts wrong answers. My son says, we had an easy topic. So? I say. We got an 84, he says. I don’t know how to deal with this information. Is the next paper easy? I ask. You don’t know until you write it, he says. My husband shouts Machu Picchu. Nope. The right answer is Cuzco, Peru. I consider this: I’m way ahead in the Jeopardy competition. So, I tell my son, well, since it’s your father’s turn. I leave it at that.  

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