Kallie slammed her bedroom door and flung herself onto the bed. Her slim body shuddered even as one errant tear defiantly streaked down her cheek followed by another, and another.
With a grunt Kallie sat up and swiped the tears from her face, then began to chew one ragged, red-tipped fingernail. The habit soothed her a little.
“Happy Birthday,” she muttered.
Kallie looked down at the pink sweater her mom had insisted she wear to school. It wasn’t an almost red sort of pink, or so light it could be white sort of pink, but the type you like to dress baby girls in.
“I hate pink,” Kallie spat. “And I’m not a baby.”
In fact, today was her thirteenth birthday. What did her parents do to celebrate it? Mom gave her a baby sweater and Dad…
How could he! She picked up a purple pillow and threw it at the door. Kallie hadn’t even gotten to eat her cake, her absolute favorite: chocolate with whipped cream center and fudge icing.
We’re not even related.
That little fact had been the only reason she’d tried all these years to get along. Their fights were as regular as eating. Still, Kallie had tried to move past all that, mostly due to the constant hurt in Mom’s eyes. Besides, arguing was just the way she and her dad dealt with each other. Didn’t everyone have a parent like that?
Not Julie. Kallie envied Julie’s relationship with her dad. He was so cool.
Jumping off the bed she pulled out her backpack shoving in pj’s, a change of clothes, and her comb. She’d have to hurry into the bathroom to grab her toothbrush.
Kallie looked at the clock: just one more hour and freedom. Julie had invited her to sleep over. It seemed like the only thing that could save this horrible day. Jumping onto the lavender bedspread she grabbed a pen and began to draw on her faded jeans. It drove Mom nuts, but Kallie didn’t care.
How could she keep this from me?
Kallie had tried to keep the peace tonight, but Dad was in one of his moods. No, not my dad, came the unbidden response. He seemed determined to argue. In the heat of the moment, as though he’d wanted nothing more than to hurt her, he blurted out:
“I’m not your real father.”
At first she didn’t believe him, thinking he’d said it to be mean. One look at her mom’s frightened face told Kallie the cruel truth. Looking at the smug smile tugging at the corners of his mouth, the urge to strike back became overwhelming.
“Good,” she yelled, her cheeks reddening with anger. “Now I don’t have to pretend to love you anymore.”
She ran, ignoring her mom’s plaintive cry echoing behind her. Kallie didn’t care. She was free to hate him with all her might. He didn’t deserve to be loved, to be a father.
With a sigh she looked at the clock again. Only fifteen minutes had passed. Groaning, she got up and stood in front of the mirror attached to the back of her door once again confronted by the horrid pink sweater. Kallie ripped it off and began rummaging in her closet.
“Why can’t she see I like purple? It’s not that hard to figure out. Everything I own is purple.”
One more agonized look at the clock and Kallie decided not to wait any longer. She grabbed her bag and made it all the way to the front door before Mom caught her.
“You’re still going?” she asked.
“You said I could,” said Kallie with a shrug, waiting for the order to march back to her room.
Instead Mom said, “Have a good time.”
Kallie saw him then standing in the doorway of the kitchen. There was something about the way he stood sort of in and out of the door that made her think he might be sorry. She could try to forgive and forget, like before. Things could go back to normal.
He’d like that. But would I?
No. It was time she stuck up for herself. Kallie pulled back and reached for the knob. After all these years it was time to let him know she didn’t deserve to be treated like a punching bag.
“Love you Mom,” she said and walked out the door.
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