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Updated: Jan 28, 2023

By, Wendiann Alfieri

I’m minding my own business, being ignored until one of them needs me. And when they do it’s always annoying. I don’t have much to do at night, I'm up and doing chores. I could certainly do without those responsibilities happening at such an hour, on the other hand. Mom and dad always fight at night. During the day, they don’t speak to each other. They speak to their frustrations: me and my siblings, the neighbors, and the neighborhood. When it's nighttime, they can’t ignore the problems between them by berating us. So they take them out on each other. We still hear them. I still hear it. Mostly, this week has been about my dad being irresponsible with us all around the house, and then, in turn, directed toward being about Me and my siblings, "we never do what we are supposed to, everything is being torn apart, why can't we be a normal household" Leaving us with broken hearts. I could do without the guilt. It’s crushing. It’s 1 am when my door opens, the light shining from the Alarm Clock, 1:09 am. Dad is standing there, peering in with sallow eyes and a bottle in one hand that he has yet to open lukewarm water. He doesn’t notice I notice. I notice that I notice, and maybe he notices that, on some subconscious level. He just lets out a big sigh, like all of his nighttime problems need to be exhaled at me when they should be directed at what he saw in the mirror.

Cause right now, he looks like a goddamn mess.

As I think that, he turns around down the hall. I’m not reacting to him, I rarely can say anything around him or mom without them freaking out. I never respond to their complaints. They can’t hear mine. But now, it’s different. It doesn’t start that way. Will it end differently? Would I finally have the courage to mouth off to them since the move?

My door is left open when he is off, probably faking a bathroom break to get away from Mom. It's silly at this point to think they get a decent night's sleep anymore. Mom comes out, creaking down the stairs, looking for my father, eyes darting in the dark, until she reaches the light coming from my direction, caught in a gaze. Now, I do know that The move has been really hard on both of them. But I don’t care. I’m tired of them draining my energy and getting mad when I don’t have enough to give.

Mom looks in, staring blankly, and I can tell she is not happy, she figures she would wait for Dad to come back this way. He has to, to get back to his room he has to go past me. Us.

It’s a minute by and I hear the sink faucet, and Mom is getting tense, putting her foot in position to tap in front of him to make him feel like using the bathroom was a crime. Who knows, maybe he was listening to me and tried looking in the mirror at his own poor decisions. Which is exactly what this move is, to them. It's always about them.

Or the baby growing inside mom's belly for the past few months that they are in no way ready for.

Neither of them wants to point that out. Reality is a tangible thing.

He stops in front of my door, and looks pointedly at mom, waiting for the disagreement to reach him before assuming what it was.

Mom starts

“You have to fix this. You can’t keep leaving doors open, we can't be doing this arguing in the middle of the night, and when we do, you shouldn't always run away! We have a life to raise in this house, this broken, decrepit house we bought!” she fumes, hand on her pregnant belly.

“I didn’t think these things would be an issue,” He says, clearly the empty water bottle in his hand catches a suspicious glance from mom.

I peer out.

“We have a family to think of! This house is not in a good area, everything breaks, the fridge is useless…”

“Babe. We were told its a fixer-upper”

“Yeah, and when we were shown this house, everything seemed to be fine!”

“The house has to welcome us, and it has. We have heat and water and-”

“And nowhere to store or cook the food? And no safety for our little daughter to be welcomed with? The only welcome we got was a fucking fruitcake on our doorstep!”

“This is a nice area” Dad insists.

“Sure, but the neighbors aren’t. I hear them, in town. Saying we won’t last, trying to warn us that we don’t want to stay here, a broken home for a broken couple...'” She goes on in a nasal tone, clearly mimicking Mrs. Dallway. Mrs. Dallway used to live here, but she is just but a neighbor to all of us now. I feel that my siblings know how to adapt better than we are given credit for. No one else ever seems to.

“We DO want to stay here..”

“We don’t have a choice anymore Bob!”

They stare at each other.

“You are wasting our e-!” She points towards me, her face scarlet, and her words (whatever the rest was) are cut off in mid-sentence as I crack

I can’t stay silent. Not anymore.

“I’m right here, you know,” I say, sternly, like a parent in a way.

They look to me, flabbergasted that I dare speak to them on their terms.

Mom is speechless, for once, and dad keeps trying to say something, but he’s drawing a blank. Mom covers her mouth in astonishment, hand on her belly like she wants to defend her child, but doesn't know from what.

For people who are always so quick to talk over each other and fight for the last word, they both are not sure what to say.

Dad scratches his cheek.

Then, in a carefully measured tone, he breaks the silence

“Di-did our…did our microwave just talk?”

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