Bagel With a Side of Promise

You would've thought it was Christmas morning the way I was bouncing around. I couldn't sit still.

She took a seat in the dining room chair across from me and slid a glass of something dark and fizzy over to me.

After taking a sip, I could hardly swallow without fighting my gag reflex. "I don't like this stuff." It was root beer or Dr. Pepper. Who can tell the difference. They both taste like cough syrup.

"That's all you're gettin'." She snapped.

Man, I hated her. She'd come to live with us some months after we'd moved to Nevada.

"You asked for somethin' to drank, and you're gonna drank it." She reminded me of Ursula from The Little Mermaid.

I regretted ever saying I was thirsty. Looking her in the eye, I pretended to take a sip.

I was feeling a little too cocky. Because my dad was in Nevada, on his way from the airport with his new wife, to get me and my sister.

I'd love for them to leave a mark on me now. My dad would probably kill somebody.

We were leaving this place and I never had to come back. I'd never have to see my mom and step-father's fake friends again. No one would pinch my cheeks and tell me my accent was cute.

I was going back to the place where talking slow didn't mean I was stupid.

It wasn't until my step-father's mother had moved out here to live with us and started her whining about moving back to Georgia that my mom started telling my step-father to put in applications for a job back home.

Even if they'd never listened to my whining, at least they were listening to someone's.

We'd been in Nevada a year when mom called dad. "Come get the girls." Packing up and moving across the country was not something she was about to attempt with my sister and me running around.

I would get to finish Kindergarten in Georgia. I would get to live in my dad's house for longer than just a few weeks. I never had to get on another flying death trap after tonight.

There would be no more goodbyes in the Reno airport as my dad would hand over our suitcases to my mom and step-father, who didn't have the patience for the tears. My mom would physically pull Kim from my dad, as she clung to his neck, crying for her daddy. As I was dragged away, dad would give me that look that meant I was suppose to be strong. He'd try to smile at me, through his tears, all the while his face trembling with effort to hold back from sobbing.

I didn't have to play mom and watch out for Kim anymore. My job was over. I could exhale.

And I left that poor excuse for a Coke sitting on the dining room table, my first act of rebellion.

Sitting next to my step-mom Marcia on that airplane headed home, I had never been happier. My dad and sister sitting a few rows down.

Marcia handed me a bagel and started opening the cream cheese for me. I decided to test out how this relationship was going to go, this woman who I was going to be living with.

"I can do it myself," I said.

She looked at me, surprised, "Okay," and she handed me the plastic knife.

I proceeded to make a mess slathering cream cheese on my bagel.

Watching with amusement, she never raised her voice or told me I was doing it wrong or took the knife from my hand. "Good job, Amanda." She smiled at me when I had set down my knife with pride.

I took a bite of my bagel and smiled back at her.

This relationship had promise.

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