The kitchen is hot. Summer sun pours through the windows in slices made by the wooden blinds. It’s warm on my back and sweat trickles between my shoulder blades. The thin fabric of my uniform sticks to my skin. My eyes are heavy and I yawn, letting my hand run across the scars and gouges in the soft pine tabletop. My fingers find the place my brother learned to write his name. I trace the shaky letters, T - O - N - Y scored forever in the wood. I know I could find my own name on the other side of the table, the letters just as awkward and misshapen. I don’t bother looking though, just yawn again and let my head drop to rest on my folded arms.
The screen door swings open and crashes into the wall behind.
“Goddamn it!” My mother struggles through the door, her arms over-full of grocery bags.
“Oh good.” She eases her load onto the counter and wipes graying hair from her forehead. “You’re still here. There’s more out in the car. Be careful of the flowers.”
I force myself to my feet, dazed from the heat, and yawn my way through the door. The sunlight is blinding on the cement driveway and I squint as I head toward the blue station wagon. The trunk is open, revealing stacks of grocery bags.
“Did you buy the whole store?” I mutter as I scoop up as many bags as I can handle.
“Why so much?” I ask, staring at the counters that have vanished beneath the acres of shopping. “There’s only three of us.”
“I know.” Mom turns from where she’s trying to find a place for three jars of peanut butter. “But we’re going to the beach next week, remember? So I bought extras of everything for the house there.”
I pull a sack toward me and start excavating its contents. “Do I have to come? I thought maybe I’d skip it this year.”
“Skip it?” Mom skewers me with her gaze. “You think I’m going to leave you alone here for over a week?”
“Well, I thought Kim could come and stay…”
“You and Kim… Lucy, you make me laugh sometimes.”
I slam the fridge door. “I guess that’s a no, then?”
“You guess right. I’m not leaving two irresponsible sixteen-year-olds alone in my house.” Mom grins at me, turning back to the groaning pantry. “It’ll be fun, Lucy. You love the beach. And Tony’s coming.”
“You say that like it’s a good thing..”
“It is a good thing. How long has it been since you saw your brother?”
I shrug. “I dunno. A few months, I guess.” It’s not like I care that much. Tony and I have nothing in common but genes. The four years between us might as well be forty; we live in different worlds.
So, what do you think? Can you see why I chopped it out?