“Dad, where do you want to eat dinner?”
“At the table. Isn’t that where I always eat? At the table?” He makes it sound like he’s talking to an idiot.
“Your plate and glass from lunch were on the patio. So that’s not strictly true, is it?”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about. I didn’t even have lunch. How was I supposed to have lunch when there’s no damn food in the house. No wonder I’m starving.”
“I left your lunch in the fridge.” She waves the sticky-note at him which reads, ‘Your lunch. Re-heat – 1 minute’.
He ignores her as though she hadn’t just spoken and walks away, his house slippers making a soft, sibilant sound.
She hears him muttering, “Tryin-a starve me to death so you can get this house when I’m dead.”
“I don’t want your house, dad. Or anything in it.” She says this under her breath while unpacking take-out food from a brown paper bag.
Tucking a lock of graying hair behind her ear, she spoons cous-cous and a rich vegetable stew into a bowl. She can already predict his reaction to the food, but she doesn’t care. He can’t expect to have meat every night.
CNN reaches her ears from the family-room. Anderson Cooper’s voice grows increasingly loud as though angry. The microwave, yellow with age, beeps, momentarily smothering Anderson Cooper’s interview so distant from her reality it might as well be in another world.
She’s reluctant to call him to dinner, but her own hunger propels her to the family-room.
“Dad – dinner’s on the table. Let’s eat before it gets cold.”
He stares at her – head cocked, eyes searching for an answer to the question floating in his foggy mind. She already knows what the question is. And her heart breaks. It doesn’t help that she has come to resemble her mother.
Suddenly his eyes turn cold. It’s the moment his frustration shatters, leaving defeat wrapped in anger in its place.
“I never eat at the table! How many times do I have to tell you? I always eat in here!”
350-word story challenge
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