by Susannah Carlson
“Le chien est retourné à son propre vomissement, et la truie lavée au bourbier.” (Henry V, Act V, Sc. 3)
“I want pizza,” my stepson says from the backseat.
It is eight-thirty in the morning.
“Maybe after your test,” I say, knowing the test will last at least until dinnertime.
“I want pizza now,” he says, his tone an emotionless command.
“Well, Michael, we can’t do that. We have to be at Seaside in ten minutes.”
“I’m hungry.” He kicks the back of my seat.
“I gave you breakfast, Honey.”
“I hate pancakes.”
“You like them when your father makes them,” I say, sweetly as I can.
“I hate your pancakes.”
And I hate you, I think. “I don’t know what to do about that, Michael.”
“I’m going to tell my dad you didn’t give me a good breakfast before my test.”
In the rearview mirror, I see he’s holding his cell phone. My throat clenches. I swallow. “I gave you breakfast, Michael.”
“Nothing good,” he says, giving my seat another kick.
I tighten my hands on the steering wheel as if it were His Majesty’s spoiled little neck.
In my past life, I delivered lunches to Silicon Valley tech companies, lugging stacks of insulated carriers full of scrumptious numnums for engineers and executives and their peons. I made so little back then I often couldn’t afford lunch myself. Now, on a full stomach, in new clothes, my nails ground down to the quick and replaced with long, blunt, white-tipped acrylic, I steer my husband’s silver Volvo into a space in front of Seaside Taekwondo. I glance in the rearview at The Dauphin, who glowers in the backseat in his starchy white gi and danbo belt. He hates taekwondo almost as much as he hates me. It’s mutual. *** Read on! ***