TITLE: It's Better at Dad's
By Judy Doyle
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“I hate you. I hate your rules. I hate your curfew.” Katie yelled and she slammed the door. The redheaded fourteen year old was angry. She stomped off the porch. Muttering to herself, “I’ll show her. I don’t need her or her money.”
Katie and her mother always seemed at odds. Katie was a rebellious teenager. The psychiatrist said Katie blamed her mother for the divorce. The two had been going to the psychiatrist for months, but Katie’s anger had not improved.
Katie’s red hair flowed freely over her shoulders. She walked determinedly down the street. “I’ll show her. I don’t need her.” In her fourteen year old mind Katie had it planned. “Yes, tonight is the night.” She returned home.
Mrs. Carlisle knew Katie would return. She’d prepared roasted tomato enchiladas. The aroma caused her to smile. The smile faded quickly when she remembered her resolve to make her mother pay for the divorce. Katie forced herself to be civil during supper.
After supper, Katie filled the dishwasher and started the machine. “Mom, I’m going upstairs to study. Good night.”
“Good night, dear. Love you.” Her mother replied. She listened for a response she knew wasn’t coming. “Dear God, what am I going to do. She hates me, blames me for the divorce.” After the brief prayer, Mrs. Carlisle reached for the novel she’d been reading. If Katie wasn’t going to talk with her, she’d lose herself in the novel.
While Mrs. Carlisle was downstairs reading, her angry daughter was busy counting her babysitting money. She counted money her father had given her when he moved to Washington DC. A slight smile crossed her face. She had enough money.
Katie quietly slipped downstairs. Her book bag was slung over her shoulder. Katie had packed clothes and was ready to join her father. She was relieved to see her mother sleeping. Quietly Katie crept across the hallway. Not a sound was made as Katie opened, then closed the door. She breathed a sigh of relief.
“No more rules, no more curfew. Free at last!” She thought.
Katie hurried to the train station and purchased a ticket for Washington, DC. She boarded the train. She never looked back. Katie found a seat near the rear of the car. Reaching into her book bag she pulled out a small, fleece coverlet. Then she curled up and went to sleep.
Katie’s sleep was interrupted by the conductor.
“Young lady. Ticket, please?” He asked. “How old are you?”
“Fourteen years old. I’m going to Washington DC to see my father.” She shyly answered.
“Your mother know that? Our policy requires a note from the parent.” His eyebrows raised quizzically.
“Oh, Mom said you’d probably ask for this.” She confidently handed him a forged note. He read it carefully, looked intently at the signature. He then replied,
“Seems to be in order. Get some sleep.”
Katie pulled the coverlet over herself and muttered, “Thank you, sir.” The clickety-clack of the tracks and the train rocking side to side lulled Katie to sleep.
“Miss, we’re in Washington. Your dad will be here?” He seemed genuinely concerned for Katie.
“Yes sir, Dad will be here.” It was easy for her to lie. Of course, her dad wasn’t. Katie was a smart girl, but nothing had prepared her for life in the big city.
“Hey, little girl. Taxi?” A man smoking a cigarette asked.
“Yes, please. 709 Fairview Court, Washington DC.”
“You got money?” He asked.
“Yeah, you know where you’re going?” She asked curtly. She wasn’t going to take any guff from him.
“Yeah, I do. There’s no need to get smart.” He sharply, shot back. He drove to the location. Hesitantly he asked, “This the right place?”
There was some doubt, but Katie answered, “Yep, this is it. Here’s your money.”
She rapped loudly on the door. The door flung open. Greeted by a man who sounded like her dad, but didn’t look at like her dad, Katie asked.
“Yeah, what do you want, you little brat?”
Katie was startled. Her dad never talked to her like that. He never dressed like that. He didn’t smell like that. Tears stung her eyes.
“I’m staying with you.” She managed to say.
“Oh, no you aren’t. Get back in that taxi and go home. I don’t need some brat stealing my drugs. Now git!” He yelled.
Katie turned, and ran to the taxi. Home was beginning to sound really good.
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