Every Day
Mary Miller

Every day after school Cary sits on the trunk of his blue-green Honda and you want to ask for a ride but you donít, even though you know he is waiting for you. Instead, you ride home with your brother in your fatherís Mercury Sable, a car you call the Insurance Manís Car, which is what your father sells. One time on the way to school it started smoking and your brother had to pull over into River Hills Country Club, where you do not belong, to wait for it to cool down.

You and your brother are always late for school but your aunt works in the office and she lets it slide, which exacerbates the problem. You try not to call her Aunt Pammy at school, even though she isnít technically your aunt anymore because your uncle divorced her and moved to San Juan. Your mother says you should still call her Aunt Pammy. At school, you call her nothing. You call her ďHey.Ē Sometimes she winks at you and tucks your hair behind your ear and you think about her three children, your cousins, none of whom you ever liked.

You know exactly how many minutes it takes to get to school. You know you have to leave by 8:12 in order to make first period so every day you sit at the kitchen table, waiting, as 8:12 passes and then 8:15 and there is no way you can make it after 8:15, even if your brother makes every single light. And once you are already late, he doesnít see the point in hurrying. He wants to stop for chicken biscuits or gum or the car is on empty.

Every day when you get home, you sit in front of the television and eat Lucky Charms or Count Chocula, anything with marshmallows. You pick all the marshmallows out, first in twos and threes and then one at a time, which pisses off your little sister. You watch Saved by the Bell and The Golden Girls—shows with back-to-back episodes so you donít have to change the channel. Your sister laughs at the television set. You never laugh at it but sometimes you smile.

Every day your father comes home early and sits in his chair and kicks the family poodle and you ignore the poodle until your father kicks it and then you remember you love it. You remember you love it so much you could crack its ribs with your love. The dog is copper-colored. Her name is Penny. You pick the fleas off her pink belly, cut them in two with your thumb nail.

When your father stops smoking, he still goes outside and stands there. He doesnít stop drinking but your mother says he only drinks when thereís a reason. Then she tells you that some people can always think of a reason, which is more than you think your mother should say but you donít see him drink that much so you donít know what sheís talking about. You look for bottles in his closet and under their bed but you donít find any. You find a gun. You pick it up. You do not get the urge to shoot yourself in the head but the idea is there, that you could, which makes you feel better.

You know Cary is waiting for you because he told you so. He tells you things on Friday nights when heís high. You sit in the bushes with him and hide behind walls because your friends are always wondering where you are. Your friends are always saying, Come on. Your friends are always saying, Letís go, because there is always the idea of something better.

You think, there is plenty of time. You think, soon. Itís only September. Itís only October. Itís only January. There is still time. And every day heís still there, waiting, until one day he isnít and you ask where he went but nobody knows. You ask what happened but nobody cares because he hadnít been around that long and nobody thought much of him anyway. It seems like no one even noticed him sitting on his car every day after school, waiting for you.

—First appeared in Black Clock

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