“You have to pass everything clockwise, dammit!” yells my father to my mother, who flinches and takes the potatoes out of my hands to pass them to Brett. My father proceeds to almost cut his thumb off while drunkenly carving the roast and yells at me. “These goddamn knives are dull! What, do you want me to get hurt? Next time make sure it's sharp!”
“I thought it was, sorry,” I mutter.
“Well you didn't think,” he snarls, forking roast onto everyone's plates.
“Peter! You stop that,” scolds my Grandma, patting my leg under the table.
“Oh you be quiet Mother, she's so stupid. How worthless do you have to be to bring home grades like that? And these knives are so dull, only an imbecile would miss that,” he growls, shoving a huge bite into his mouth.
“Don't tell your Mother to be quiet, Peter,” says my Grandpa, glaring at his son. “Kiera isn't stupid. You're her father, it's terrible the way you talk about like that. She's a good girl.”
I hold my breath, trying not to cry. My mother takes a big glug of wine and Brett mouths “Don't” to me. Two big teardrops fall into my lap, and I excuse myself to go to the bathroom. I sob silently, curled in a ball with my back against the wall, my hands covering my head like during a tornado drill. I try not to make any noise, and I turn on faucet to mask the sound of blowing my nose. The discussion rages on in my absence, and I am terrified to leave the haven of the bathroom. But, I splash cold water on face, and return to the table. I see everyone is mostly done eating and I sit quietly, inhaling my dinner before it's time to clear the plates. Brett shovels the rest of his food down like it's the end of world, and says, “I need to go study for a history test.”
“Go ahead lovey,” says our sloshed mother, excusing him with a pat on the shoulder. He hesitates, looking at our father who dismisses him with a hand flap. I chew, and stay silent, listening to the banter of my family. They talk about Brett, his friends, how popular they are. My father slams me some more for my poor math grades, and starts in on my friends. I feel like the worst friend in the world for not defend ing them, but I have to stay quiet. My mother watches me in amusement as I struggle to keep my cool, and keep my mouth shut.
“How about sherry in the living room, Mom?' my father asks, hauling my grandma out of her chair.
“Straighten up in here, Kiera,” says my mother, grabbing glasses for their “dessert”. I clear dishes, put away food, fill the dishwasher, wipe the counters, scrub the sink, clean the kitchen table, and wipe off the refrigerator door for good measure.
“Kiera, get the coats,” my father directs from the doorway, making me jump as I put the final touches on the cleaned, straightened, and wiped down kitchen. I hustle to the closet, and help Grandma get her coat on. As my parents are distracted, talking to Grandpa, she pats my face, “Well sugar, I tried. You'll get there someday. Ooooo, I love you!” she squeezes me in a tight hug. I nod, feeling like my heart is a piece of paper curling up and burning to bits.
Fasten your seatbelts for a white-knuckled ride on the looney wagon and trip down memory lane with a band of misfit teenagers. Kiera Graves and her small posse of true blue friends plot ways to escape their cowtown; and play a game of keep away with her Machiavellian family to help her survive high school and make it to college.
Courage under fire, the closest bonds of friendship and blossoming romance keep this tale of coming of age and survival buzzing with excitement, heart, and warmth.
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Genre - General Fiction
Rating – PG-13
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