The Lucky Winner

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Chapter 6

It was a spaghetti and meatballs night.

Mom often made pasta dishes because they were easy and cheap. A dollar for the spaghetti, two dollars for the sauce. The meatballs were on sale that day, so she bought those too. Most nights, she didn’t even add meat because it was too expensive. I hated eating like a vegetarian when I wasn’t a vegetarian.

Dad was home and had a few days until he went back on the road. All four of us sat down and ate together.

“What happened to your eye?” asked Dad.

Kyle got a black eye from Jerry’s punch. His gaze shifted down to the floor as he slumped his narrow shoulders forward.

I didn’t say anything. Looking at his black eye, I actually pitied my brother for once. I just wished he’d start working out. Which, I knew, was not going to happen no matter how much I longed for it.

It was pretty obvious to anyone that Kyle was punched in the face. How else could you get a black eye? Falling off the bed, hitting your eye on the floor?

Not very likely.

“I fell off the bed and hit my eye.”

Seriously?

It was now official. My brother was dumb. No wonder he wore the Dumb and Dumber hairstyle.

“You need to be more careful, honey.”

And Mom…

Dad looked at his teenaged son and seemed to study him. He chose not to say anything about it. Perhaps he’d gone through the same misery when he was a teenager. High schools sure were nothing less than war zones to introverts.

“I’m going to Home Depot tomorrow. The Nick’s didn’t have the right tool. Let me know if you guys need anything from there.”

The Nick’s was a hardware store in the neighborhood and Home Depot was thirty miles away. Dad’s latest project was fixing the roof. It leaked whenever it rained.

“There is something I need,” I lifted my head and said with hope.

“What is it?” Dad turned to me.

“Doors.”

Mom was well aware of my fervent desire to install a set of doors to my den, but I’d never mentioned it to Dad. Mom had refused to agree to it and since the two of them always discussed just about everything, if Mom said no, there was no point in me bringing it up to Dad.

However, I wanted to bring it up at that moment. If I really wanted to have anything, I had to be persistent. That was my late grandpa’s wisdom.

“Doors?” Dad furrowed his eyebrows.

Apparently, Mom hadn’t told him about it yet. She didn’t approve, so she probably saw no point in discussing it with Dad.

“Yes, a set of doors to my room.” I felt like a brave soldier. I was all in to win.

“Why?” asked Dad, simply wondering.

“Because I would like some privacy.”

“Ella. What did I tell you?” Mom inquired.

“You have those curtains.” Dad stated in a matter-of-fact way.

“Yes, those curtains! Exactly!”

The look on his face told me he didn’t get the point of my sarcasm. So I explained. “You can’t knock on the curtains, can you?”

“But we always call your name before we open them.”

“They are curtains! You touch them, and you can see inside. Without me ever noticing.”

“Are you hiding something from us?” Mom asked with a look of worry on her face.

“No, and that’s not the point. I’m only requesting something very normal. Everybody my age has their own bedroom. It’s not rocket science! Except I don’t!”

“You do have a bedroom.”

“It’s called a den. With curtains!”

“Ethan was doing drugs in his room right after installing a lock on his door,” Mom said as she cut her precious meatball into tiny pieces.

“Huh? Who’s Ethan?”

“Ethan Sheen. From fifth grade.”

What? I raised my eyebrows and scrunched my nose at the same time. “I’m not planning to do drugs. If that’s what you’re worried about.”

“Ethan said the same exact thing. I heard it from his mom.”

“Forget Ethan Sheen! I’m not him! Besides, I’m not requesting a lock. I just want a set of doors!”

“The lock will come next. Besides, the entry is too wide to install any doors.”

“What about sliding doors? Or French doors? That’s why I referred to it in the plural,” then I rushed to add, “not clear glass ones though, of course.”

“It’s too expensive, honey. But it’s good that we talked about it. Now we move on.” Mom smiled as if she were on a peacekeeping mission that she successfully completed.

I sighed. I hated hearing her use the word, expensive. I couldn’t wish harder for us to be wealthy. If we only had money, things could be so different.

So very different…

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