The Accident

I sat at the bottom of the stairs, just behind the cracked kitchen door. Mom was slamming pots and pans down as she made dinner. She only did that when she was furious with Dad. That was becoming a regular event in our house. Mom’s accident was a chasm between them.

“You treat me like an infant, like I’m incapable of making one decision on my own,” Mom said.

I could tell she was trying to keep her voice down so I wouldn’t hear. But I’d become an expert at staying out of sight during these kinds of arguments. It probably wasn’t healthy to eavesdrop the way I did, but it was better than any of the trash TV my friends watched.

“Based on the way our insurance just shot up, maybe I don’t think you can,” Dad said in the same low tone.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake, it was an—”

“Call it an accident. I dare you.”

“It was an accident! Why won’t you believe me?” Mom snapped. Her voice sounded shaky.

This time, there was a loud crash, a shattering of porcelain against the tile floor. Oh, things were getting good now. I covered my mouth to muffle the snort I couldn’t keep in.

“Maybe because your blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit, Mary.”

Dad’s tone dropped an octave, and I could just imagine how red his face was at this moment.

“You could’ve killed her,” he said.

“Maybe she should be dead! She’s evil, Joey, and I don’t get why you can’t see that!”

This time, I felt my face flush with anger. I twitched my fingers toward the crack in the door. Maroon-colored smoke, just a thin stream, jumped from my palm in that same direction.

The echo that came from flesh hitting flesh sent a tingle down my spine. I crept back up to my room, slipped the boot back on that was supposed to protect my “shattered ankle,” and climbed under the covers. My work here was nearly done.

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