“Hana” by Frederick Foote
Are you a parent going through the Terrible Twos? Did you live through them and survive? Terrible Twosdays is a place to commiserate over the unending shenanigans of your Darling Children (as the online parenting communities say). Nonfiction stories will be considered, so long as names have been changed to protect the guilty. Inspired by our best-selling gift book for parents, Go the Fuck to Sleep, Terrible Twosdays joins the roster of our other online short fiction series. Unlike Mondays Are Murder and Thursdaze, we’re looking for stories with a light and mischievous feel, all about the day-to-day challenges of parenting. As with our other flash fiction series, stories must not exceed 750 words.
This week, Frederick Foote deals with a terrible teenager.
Hana Irene Carter is showing her fourteen-year-old Asian-black ass this afternoon. She walks through my house and into my kitchen, ignoring me, her grandmother Irene, and four of her other relatives, only smiling at and kissing Emma, my black sheep cousin, on the cheek. She then opens the refrigerator and takes out a beer. She pops the top, takes a long swig, and burps, looking directly at me with an in-your-face, self-satisfied grin.
Before I can act, Irene is up. She pulls the can out of her granddaughter’s hand and dumps the beer out in the sink.
Hana’s face turns dark with anger, her thin frame shaking with rage. She steps up to her grandmother. Hana is about to spout off.
I step between them and shake my head no. “Not a word. Not one.”
I march her out the front door and down the steps to our driveway. I look in the garbage can on the side of the house that we use just to store the basketball.
We play horse. Hana is a fine athlete. She plays basketball, volleyball, and tennis. She can be first string in any sport. I honestly believe that.
I needle her on each shot. She loses her concentration a little, just enough for me to beat her for the first time in five games.
We sit with our backs against the garage door. I wait for her to speak.
“Why are you all so mean to Aunt Emma? What did she do?”
“Daughter, why are you so mean to me? What did I do?”
“You won’t let me hang with Emma. You treat me like a baby.”
“My cousin and I have some serious issues, personal problems. Things we have to work out before I can trust her with you. This is between me and Emma. You have my trust. You are not the problem here. I apologize if I gave you that impression.”
Hana looks down at her feet. She tilts her chin up and to the right like her mother does.
She turns to me, all curious and serious. “Drugs, huh?”
“Hana, what makes you say that?”
“She . . . I promised not to tell. Shit, I got a big mouth.”
“And a weak jump shot. You promised Emma?”
She nods her head yes.
“How are you and your mom getting along?”
“Why ask me that? You know. You two talk every frigging day. I’ve got no frigging privacy. And my jump shot is so much stronger than your raggedy-ass jump shot.”
We sit there for a moment. She is growing into a beauty. My daughter is never going to be movie star beautiful, but she is on her way to being something special. I see it. So do the men and boys around her. God help us all.
“Hey, you need to put on a few more pounds and inches before you jump in the ring with your namesake. I won’t always be there to save you from my mother.”
“I’m a contender, Dad. I can take her.” We both burst out laughing.
We go back up. She apologizes to everyone for acting like a brat and offers Irene her hand. Instead of shaking hands, Irene gets up, takes two beers out of the fridge, and shepherds her granddaughter out to the back porch.
I’m going to have a serious talk with my mother. I ain’t got the patience to raise a teenager and a mother at the same time.
FREDERICK FOOTE was born in Sacramento, California, and educated in a racially segregated elementary school in Vienna, Virginia until he was twelve, when he returned to Sacramento and its own segregated schools. He served for three years and nine months in the USAF and retired from the State of California in 2001. He has been married for 46 years and has two daughters. He started writing short stories in the spring 2013 semester in Dr. Silcox’s creative writing class at Sacramento City College. His family, friends, instructors, and MeetUp group—Sacramento Prose and Poetry writers—have tolerated him, encouraged him, and inspired him to write and to improve his writing. You can find his work online at Specter Magazine and everydayfiction.com and in the print copy of the 2014 Sacramento City College Susurrus Literary Magazine.
Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Terrible Twosdays flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:
—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should focus on the challenges of parenting. Ideally, stories should be about children aged 0 to 5, but any age (up to early teens) is acceptable. Stories may be fiction or nonfiction.
—Include the child’s age at the time of the story next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission [email protected] paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: Sep 9, 2014
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