a short Short Story

Who the hell cares anyway.

Enough, enough, she damn well had enough of the lot of them.  As she slammed the front door behind her, Janey stomped down the stairs, yanked open the car door, stabbed the key in the ignition and peeled out of the driveway with tires squealing.

I knew it. I knew if I showed up at this friggin’ family dinner it was going to end up like this.

From the moment, last month that her cousin Ron had convinced her she should attend the damn thing, she knew, she knew it was going to be nothing but drama.

So where you working now Janey? from her step father who, before she had a chance to respond, snickered, they let you dress like that at a real job?

This, of course was in reference to Janey’s eyebrow piercings and, she supposed, the multiple rings on her fingers.  Always, always this assumption that she couldn’t do anything right, that she’d never be a success.  What they didn’t get, the lot of them, the biologicals and the steps, was that she didn’t give a good god damn about their version of success.

From the moment her mother had married Dickhead – yeah, yeah his name is Richard – and he and his 3 sons, or the morons as she secretly and sometimes not so secretly, referred to them, the criticisms had begun.  Some people thought it must have been great to be the only girl in this blended family.

Yeah right.  The only girl who was supposed to be a girly girl at all times and wear makeup and heels and sit properly with her legs crossed and never, ever, ever let a damn or shit flow out of her mouth.

Taking a deep breath as she turned the corner to her apartment, Janey sighed.  Her conscience nagged her, she had never helped the situation, making sure she looked her most ragged, her wildest whenever Richard had friends or family over.  She had pretty much made no effort to be friends with the morons.

I mean, seriously, who wants their world invaded by a new father and three brothers. What the hell had her mother been thinking?  And why had she never stood up for her daughter?

It was always “Janey, can’t you just try to get along?”  “What is wrong with you anyways?”  Fifteen when her mother married Richard, Janey had not been open to having her life turned upside down.  One day it was just her and mom, the way it had been as far back as Janey could remember, her Dad having been killed by a drunk driver when she was just a baby, and the next day her mom had met Richard and married him, like three months later. Well, in all fairness, it was more like eighteen months later. But still.

If she was honest with herself, Janey had to admit she hadn’t tried very hard to get along or to accommodate the new family dynamics.  She wanted things the way they had always been when it was just her and mom. She wanted that attention, that knowing that her mom was always there, always available, for her. For Janey. Not for some man. And certainly not for his kids. His sons.  Mother – which Janey had begun calling her the day of the wedding, loved having boys in the house “they’re just so much fun” she would coo.  Coo. Yeah. There was her mother cooing over three young boys and, somehow Janey was supposed to just fall in love with them and be happy to babysit them and on and on.  The boys were 8, 6 and 4 at the time of the wedding.  What the hell had her mom been thinking?  And why had no one ever stopped to think about her – about Janey – the only child turned into big sister overnight.

We’re never going to fix this.  Every time I try, Richard or one of the boys says something snide and sets me off.  I can promise myself I’ll keep my cool but it never works.

As she sat in her driveway, hesitating to get out of the car and return to her empty apartment, Janey felt a wave of sadness come over her. And if she was honest, a touch of shame as well.

Let’s face it, she sighed I’m a part of the problem.  I’m 26 years old, not a child any more. And I could have made an effort.  I could have smiled and said that yes I do go to work looking like this.  That teaching art to street kids doesn’t require me to dress up.  And who knows?  If I’d answered politely maybe Richard, or someone in the room would have picked up the conversation and things could have moved on in a civil manner.

For a moment, she pondered turning around and going back to the house.  But she was damned if she was going to apologize.

Maybe there’ll be another chance soon.  Hell, I could actually take the first step and invite Mother and Richard out for lunch or something one day.  With that, Janey shook her head at herself, and got out of the car. In the meantime, she had studying to do. Maybe she’d invite the whole lot of them to her graduation ceremony in a couple of months. One Masters in Visual Arts here I come.

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