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What John Dreads

by Johanna Miklós

The instant coffee smells like dirty laundry. I dump it on the burnt pepperoni pizza in the sink. The whole house stinks.

I stare out the window as I did when waiting for Sue to come home. The wind blasts the school bus with snow from the weeping birch. Sue’s father planted that tree when she was a little girl.

Bobby’s going to nag about the burnt meal and the three weeks pocket money I owe. Not like when... He kicks the gate and chips the Bahia-blue paint Sue picked out last summer. “It’s one step closer to our dream trip to Brazil,” she said.

I grab a beer. I keep them in the fridge, all the way in the back, behind the milk cartons and the peanut butter he’s not eating ’cause I didn’t get the right kind.

I pop the lid. The kid stomps through the snow in boots that don’t fit right. He’s dragging the knapsack. Says he can’t put it on his back ’cause the straps are broken.

I take a cool gulp. He’ll walk in and pull off the fuzzy wool cap Sue gave him for Christmas. He’s got black curls just like his Mom’s. He’ll leave the knapsack on the floor that hasn’t been washed since the funeral and whine that he’s the only kid who’s not going on the fifth-grade ski trip, he doesn’t have a gameboy, his parka’s too tight and we’re out of toothpaste.

The kid and the wind open the door. Blue specks swirl in the snow under Sue’s tree.

“Mom didn’t want you drinking,” Bobby says.

Copyright © 2012 by Johanna Miklós

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