The cabinet creaked. It scared me for a second as I snapped my eyes towards the master bedroom. Stupid, why’d you even look? I scolded myself. It’s not like Mom ever came out of her fairy tale fortress once she grabbed a handle of Grey Goose for the night.
My clammy fingers gripped the cabinet door as it opened. The vodka glistened. The moonlight filtered through the shimmery eggshell curtains, enough to see the inside of the cabinet but not enough to see my face in the mirror opposite the liquor. If there had been enough light, I could have seen the blushed, puffy, tear-streaked face staring back. There wasn’t enough light.
Student of the year. An award never given to a freshman at James Madison High. Somehow, it fell into my lap. Me, Leah Renee, for being a “model student who impressed the faculty and never failed to help a struggling student.” A prestigious award. A sparkly, shiny plaque. A ceremony. A spotlight. A speech.
“Michael, don’t forget about the ceremony!” I reminded my father two nights ago, one of the few evenings he could fall asleep on his own Tempur-pedic mattress and not out on an international business trip in a Trump hotel. He glanced over me with a dull “You know you have to talk to the assistant.” I don’t know why I expected anything different.
But when, earlier today at the ceremony, hundreds of pairs of eyes locked on me, and my eyes couldn’t find him, it sent a shock right through my body.
My body that was the only one conscious in the house, late on this Midsummer night, and I’ve finally turned to the only proven method of dealing with my father.
The cabinet creaked. The vodka glistened. The moonlight faded.