“It’s because your Dad is being an asshole,” Mom says. She takes a sip of her daiquiri and then drops it back down on the table across from you. A little bit spills up over the side and lands on the paper placemat that’s been set out for the lunch crowds. You watch it melt down from a pink glob of ice into a wet circle underneath the “W” in the “Broadway’s” logo. “He misses two months of the support he’s supposed to be giving me and then has the nerve to ask if we can ‘do Christmas as a family’ this year. It’s insane.”
“Sorry,” you say, partly on behalf of your Dad and partly for being the spawn of someone who would do something so terrible. You start watching a plane flying by outside and mentally thank God for the window seat you’re at and all the opportunities for avoiding eye contact it’s been providing.
“I had to borrow money from your aunt Everyn just to buy you and Jacob clothes for this school year. Do you know how embarrassing that is? calling your baby sister less than a month after her favourite mare dies so you can ask for a hundred dollars? Horrible.”
“Sorry,” you say again, this time for having to wear clothes.
“Stop saying that.” Mom pokes you in the chest. “Why are you apologizing? It’s weird. Stop it.” She narrows her eyes at you and makes a gagging gesture. “And stop chewing with your mouth open. I don’t need to see what your food looks like in there, thank you.”
You want to apologize again, but don’t. Instead you just swallow your chicken finger and start silently building a pyramid out of the mini coffee creamers in the bowl beside you. Mom sips her daiquiri again and then coughs and blows her nose into her napkin.
“But, like I was saying, I need to get away from your Dad. I’m serious, Daniel. None of this would be a problem if we moved back to Kingston. We could live with my parents, and I could start going back to school. You could hang out with your cousins all the time. Wouldn’t that be nice? Colton and Braxtyn?”
“I don’t like Braxtyn,” you say, “and Colton hit me at Thanksgiving.”
“Right,” Mom stiffens a bit. “Well you’ll make lots of friends at school there, I’m sure. There are lots of good schools now, I think, around the downtown. The people are nice.”
Just then, your server materializes from the bar area.
“Hey guys!” she says, “everything still delicious over here?” You look up for a second and notice that she has braces on, even though she looks about 20. This makes you uncomfortable for some reason.
“Incredible,” Mom says, “Really great. Can I just get another daiquiri whenever you have a second?”
“Of course!” the server writes something down on her notepad. “And anything for you?”
Even though you’re the only other person at the table, you don’t register that you’re being asked a question. The first vertical layer of your pyramid is done, and you’re adding a second behind it for stability.
“Daniel,” Mom says.
The pyramid would be a nice place to live, you think. Each of the components could be a room. You could have yours on the top floor, and then a pool downstairs, maybe, a room with a big TV and a Wii.
“Daniel!” Mom kicks you under the table, and you jump a little bit, knocking your pyramid down and scattering the mini-creamers all across the table.
“What?” You blink and look up at the server. She’s smiling at you. “Oh. No,” you say. You pick up a french fry with your thumb and index finger and then let go and watch it fall back onto your plate. “No, I’m okay, thank you. Sorry.”