“But why not?”
“Because I said so”
I slammed my spade so hard against the ground that the wave of dust that flew up from it landed in my hair.
“Oh come on!! I’m old enough now, and it’s not like I’m needed here. You never let me run the plow any way!”
“I said no! Now stop pouting and get back to work”
“I am not pouting!”
“Then just get back to work”
“No!” with that Timothy gave up on having this discussion standing up, so he put down his shovel and sat down, his back leaning against the well. “Look, I’ve got to fix this water stream before Jean gets back”
“Jean, Jean, Jean …God! I don’t work FOR Jean, this is OUR family business”.
“I - KNOW – that” he said between gritted teeth.
“So, can I come with you?”
“But why not? Give me one good reason”. Timothy stared, exasperated, up at the sky, not answering my question. “You are'nt my father, you can’t just order me about with out saying why!” I yelled at him, frustrated he was treating me like a child.
“I’m the closest thing you have to a father so you better listen up!” his anger made him rise back to his feet, so that he towered over me as he said: ” you will do as I say – now get back to work!” I couldn’t breath I was so mad. I’m not some kind of slave, not his and definitely not Jean’s. I wasn’t about to do Jean’s assigned tasks, so I picked up my spade with a “humph! – for dramatic effect, turned on my heel and headed for home. As I turned away from him I thought I saw Timothy stretch out his hand to call me back but a few seconds after I had left I could hear his spade hitting the ground ,with a steady ‘thunk thunk’ rhythm, that fallowed me all the way home.
That evening it was Adrianna’s turn to cook dinner and I dreaded that meal. It meant I had to say a super sweet ‘thank you’ to her, when no one ever thanks me when I make the meals three times each week, plus I’d have to make plenty of ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ sounds to satisfy both her and Jean. Sitting down took every ounce of my reserve. I dreaded the ‘talking’ during the meal as well since in our family it turns into shouting more often then not. Sure enough two minuets into the ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhing’ all talk suddenly ceased as Jean stood up, so he’d be in a better position to yell at Timothy: “what do you mean you didn’t get it done?”. “Well…” timothy began to stutter, I couldn’t bare to watch him struggle with an explanation so I jumped in with a full account, though not fully detailed, of what had happened. Jean’s reaction was far from satisfactory. “Of course she can’t go to the city, how did you let get that idea get in her head?” Unbelievable! He was actually blaming Timothy for my own thoughts. How dare he! I mean I was used to him never speaking to me directly, and as much as I hate being talked about and not to, this was a new low even for him.
“He isn’t my keeper” I had to shout it at Jean so he’d listen and this is the moment my dad chose to get re-involved in my life. With out saying a word he reached across the table and slapped me across the face, so hard, that I became disoriented. For a few moments we were all motionless with shock, that is everyone except for the tears that had gallantly stepped forward to take their place at the front line of defense against a pending attack. “Without Jean here you’d have no one so I’d keep a civil tongue in my head if I were you”. And just like that he left the table, picking up another beer bottle on his way out the door. I stumbled, trying to get to my room as quickly as possible; I even forgot to slam the door as I entered the sanctuary of my room. Once inside I let go of the little control I held over my wayward tears and let them stream freely down my cheeks. I threw myself on my bed, Wooly jumping out of my way with a yowl of disapproval. I just lay there waiting, waiting for someone to come and tell me how wrong dad was and that they loved me, Jean or no Jean. I waited and waited but no one came. Finally I got up, took Wooly in my arms and started to pace, thinking furiously – anger taking over to dull my insecurities. If dad was right and I would have no one if it weren’t for Jean, then I’d choose ‘no one’ in a heart beat - and so I did.
This was the first time dad had laid a hand on me, comforting or otherwise, in five long years. In a way it was good to see him take any interest in the lives surrounding his, but not good enough for me to forgive away the pain and humiliation he’d just made me feel. I felt the need to act, rebel. Show them I’d be better off with no one, especially with out Jean, in my life. I started to plan it all out in my head. I decided to go finish the days work first, so Timothy wouldn’t suffer for it, after all it was kind of my fault. I labored till near the crack of dawn, then I was finally free to go my own way, without feeling guilty about any of it. Muscles aching, I packed up a few treasured belongings of my mom’s, my cat, some food, water, my brothers old hand-me-downs and the little money I had won off kids in my school day’s playing ‘frowned upon’ card games. Then I walked out the back door, heading to the ‘big city’, my back to the only place I knew to call home.