Dinner Conversations (Short Story)

     I’m sitting at the dining room table. It’s been a long day of school, and my parents expect me to say something more than, “It was boring.” Which, no matter how true it was, apparently saying it seems worse than telling a lie. “It was great. I learned new things.” I could tell them that, however that involves another conversation… which includes saying what I learned.

What did I learn today? In second bell Marcus decided to throw an eraser at Isabell, who then made a huge scene, which the teacher bought. In study hall, I finally finished my sketchbook, with my own version of Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night. At lunch, I again sat by myself, but that’s mainly because my group of friends no longer exist. Well, Maria still has my back. You rat a kid out once for cheating and suddenly you’re the snitch of the eighth grade.

It was at that moment that I realized that my parents were staring at me. I had a plate full of chicken, rice and broccoli and hadn’t touched it yet. It was father’s favorite meal, which meant mother was up to something. “Placement tests for the art school is a month.” My mother said, while looking at my father. This was an argument which they had been having for a month now. Mom wants the art school, and father wants the public school, which he attended. The issue with both was that I wanted to get far away and just live a bit. And as usual, they go off into their own conversation on why the other is right.

There is no time like the present.

“So, as it happens, I found a really good school for next year.” My parents look at me clueless. This had been the longest running conversation at the dinner table. The conversation about my future beat out our conversation on how we would beat the apocalypse. Which is a conversation we’ve been having for over a year now, due to all the apocalyptic shows my father watches.

“That’s good sweetie!” She’s trying to be supportive, but every word is cracking because she doesn’t want me to go to the district public school.

“Wherever you want to go, is where we will send you.” He says confident that I’ll pick the cheapest future for myself, go into the family business and still be highly successful.

There is no time like the present. I play with my fingers and scramble the words out. “There’s a boarding school, about four hours away, located in Nevada.” My parent’s jaws are dropped. For once they can agree on one thing, I was going crazy. I have an opportunity to live my life outside Roseburg, Idaho and be proud of it. I don’t have friends here and it will be hard enough going to high school.

Many moments pass.

I start to eat. I’m scarfing down my plate, so I can leave the table and go to my room. Nobody is talking. They both can’t be thinking that much, they barely think that much in general. As they continue to sit in silence, I get up. I push in my chair and clean my dish.

“Sweetheart, wait.” My father, holds out his hand. He’s going to give me that, father side hug and tell me what a huge mistake I’m making. That boarding school is for teens with issues. I don’t have issues, obviously, because I’m their little girl. But I please him and walk over. Leaving my dish in the sink.

“May I ask why you’d want to go to this boarding school?” If I knew he was going to ask questions, I would have prepared for them.

“Well… um…” How do I put something so cruel, into the nicest words for such fragile people? I’m fourteen years old, that’s not how the world is supposed to work.

“I want to move away, be on my own. I want to experience new people, and can say I enjoyed it. Staying here, where the sun hardly shines makes me depressed. I don’t have friends at school, my teachers keep sending home notes saying they need you to sign off on things, which I then sign. It’s not that you two did anything wrong, or that you messed up… But secretly I’m wanting more.”

My father hugs me, and for once he’s on my side. “Okay, I understand. I’m not hurt, and if it’s what you want then I’m sure your mother and I can get –” He’s cut off right in the middle of his heart warming speech. A speech I desperately needed from him. Why would my mother do such a thing? This may be the only time I get this from him.

“No.” The most understanding person in this room says. She gets up and walks out of the room. I sit down at the table once more.

Father looks at me and says, “Maybe next dinner she’ll be alright.”