two (edited)

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DINNER THAT NIGHT was a special brand of quiet. When I arrived home earlier in the evening, I'd been greeted by my mother banging around in the kitchen. Cupboards slammed and dishes clanked in the distance all while my father sat on the living room couch taking notes on the routine playing on the television. My father was not one to interfere in my mother's tantrums, nor did my mother invite any concern when it came to the business of my father. They co-existed this way; like roommates rather than invested lovers.

The mashed potatoes were lovely and fluffed to perfection. I ate them with the goal to make them last since the bowl for seconds was placed in front of my still peeved mother. My ego didn't have the strength to be the butt of her frustration.

No one knew why my mother was upset. No one bothered to ask. Isioma was prone to irritation and expressed it well. Her fits were always tolerated and her harshness averted.

Surely this amount of rage couldn't be healthy for one's soul. I'd asked my dad about it one summer night as we swayed on the porch swing.

"Your mother is an aries," my father said, patting me on my head.

Those five words were like missing puzzle pieces. They put everything into perspective for me even though I had no idea what it truly meant.

One time my mom caught Carmichael sneaking out and just about woke the entire town up with her fussing. I'd been in the hallway when my brother stormed back up to his room. Puffy-eyed, he revealed another trait of my mother's.

"She's fucking crazy."

Over the time, I'd pondered if the two were mutually exclusive. I'd never been a big astrology girl, so I couldn't tell if my mother was an aries, crazy, or a crazy aries. Whichever it was, she had a whole lot of soul searching to do.

"I made a friend today."

My statement was a ballsy move. In normal circumstances, I'd keep this information to myself until the end of my three month grace period for acquaintances, but this friend was the perfect pawn to ease the tension. I was hungry for more potatoes.

My brother grunted in acknowledgement. Mother continued to chomp on her broccoli while my father reviewed his notes on the legal pad before him.

"Her name is Natalie."

"She's blonde," I added.

"You guys hear that?! She's blonde," I kicked my brother underneath the table for his sarcasm.

What was the point of speaking when no one cared what I said? Every night we sat at the thick wooden slab and shared food, but I would've preferred we all just abandon the table for the privacy of our own rooms. It'd spare us the misery of each other's company.

I shoved a forkful of potato into my mouth.

"Imani, don't stuff your face like that," My mother scolded. I apologized under my breath despite not being sorry at all.

"I cooked this beautiful meal for all of us and no one is going to even ask me how my day was?"

Long, thin fingers wrapped around each other above my mother's plate.

Oh here we go.

Carmichael looked at me with an expression that told me he'd been expecting this. My father dropped his pen to face his wife. There she had it: all of our attention was placed on her like she was standing on a stage looking down at us with a spotlight shining brilliant rays on her face.

"How was your day, mom?" Asked Carmichael, the do-gooder.

He's such a kiss-ass.

"It was outrageous! It's only my first week at this firm and no one knows... Law firm bull, law firm sucks, law firm, hmm I'm a lawyer, lawyer, lawyer blah blah blah," I tuned out my mother's ramblings to finish my potatoes. Carmichael nudged me for the bowl of broccoli beside me.

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