Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: MAIL (02/18/16)
TITLE: The Breakfast Debate
By Sara Harricharan
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The use of Momma over Mom, rattled around in my brain, prompting visual verification from the speaker herself.
I squinted over the top of my iPad at my thirteen-year-old daughter, who stared anywhere else but at me, as she stirred her soggy cheerios. I silently noted her neat academy uniform, finished homework sticking out from the top flap of her messenger bag and her cellphone face down on the table.
Something serious then. Alright.
“Depends on why I’m fighting, sweetie,” I set the iPad down in favor of retrieving my coffee.
“What if it’s for a friend?”
“You have ten minutes to make your case before we’re both going to be late.” I sipped the coffee, frowning inside at the furrow on her brow.
Her father always had that same stubborn look when he was about to gift me another legal headache, rest his soul. Then again, leaving his practice to me had called for hidden talents I’d almost forgotten I’d had.
“Cyberbullying?” I prompted, when her silence stretched and my patience wavered. She wasn’t as digitized as some of her friends, but she was connected enough and I tried to stay current on the same networks. Even if they progressively made less sense.
“No,” she shook her head, decisively. “Plagiarism. Maddy’s mom wrote an entire series. Four books. Then a prequel series, three books. They’re amazing. She worked really hard on it. She has notes and charts—everything.”
I perked a brow.
“Someone filed a lawsuit against her. They say she plagiarized the whole thing, but she didn’t! Her books were published long before this guy even-“
My heart sank. I’d read about that dreadful case. Maddy’s mother was local so the news made our town paper. A single mother who had written several children’s books and become semi-famous in the process. Accused by a fellow author, who had skyrocketed to popularity overnight and remained a patented media darling. It was the kind of case I wanted to stay away from—mostly because it promised to be several headaches rolled into one.
“-And he’s caused so much trouble! He’s a terrible person and his books aren’t even—he didn’t even try to hide the fact that he copied it. I mean, I could write a comparison essay on the prologue!”
I nodded to her bowl of cheerios in lieu of an answer. She shoveled a spoonful in her mouth, chomping furiously. “How does this affect me?”
“She needs a lawyer.”
“There are special lawyers for that,” I drained the coffee cup. “She should try Brixton and Banner.”
“But you could take her case, right?”
“Brixton Senior has won dozens of cases along those lines.”
I wavered. “If I were to consider it, I’d need it in writing and-“
“The trial’s coming up soon.”
“Have her send it overnight then.”
“Not my problem,” I stacked up the dishes. “Drink it or leave it, we’re going to be late.”
She mumbled her answer around the hastily crammed mouthfuls. “So you’ll take it?”
“If I have time and space for it. If I see her request in writing—and if, she’s already appealed to-“
“Brixton and Banner turned her down,” my darling daughter said, gratefully. “I told her that you—“ she faltered, snatching up her bag.
I’d warned her about making promises neither of us could keep.
“Let’s not be late.”
I gave her a swat on the way out. She tried to dodge it, half-heartedly. Scooping up my Ipad and purse, I set the alarm on the way out. She waited in the passenger seat, counting out a handful of cash.
“Tutoring fees,” she said, lightly. “We’ll overnight it today. It’s just the date stamp you want to see on it, right?”
I stared at her.
She half-smiled at her flowered wallet. “Mr. Ozark made her quit her job, because of all the stupid calls, threats and people. The kids at school won’t leave Maddy alone. A lot of the money went to medical stuff when her dad died. They doesn’t have anyone to help them—they’ve only got each other. Just like us. I can’t—I have to, Mom. People shouldn’t be allowed hurt other people just because they can.”
I turned the key and checked the mirror. She was right, of course. My baby was growing up just like her father.
“Overnight it,” I repeated, quietly. “We’ll see.”
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