Even when it’s past midnight, even when it’s a school night, even when Seany is fast asleep and wetting the bed, Mom and Dad fight, and I break them up—their fights, that is—because technically, they’re already broken up; Dad has his own place at The Oakwood down the street—a crummy Sherman Oaks apartment complex I won’t step foot in, full of other divorced dads of the valley (though my parents are just separated)—but still, night after night, Dad barges in to argue with Mom about money or staying together or other grown-up stuff I don’t understand until I storm downstairs demanding, Leave right now! to help out Mom and make the noise STOP because, at a precocious 10, I’m the only adult in this house; You’re poisoning your mother against me! he shouts back, and that makes me hate him even more, but last night was different—it wasn’t a screaming kind of fight but an uglier one where Dad threw one liter of plastic (an empty bottle of Canada Dry bubbly water) at Mom’s head, and he is from Canada, so that part is sorta funny, but violence isn’t funny, even if, thanks to Mom being so hydrated and Dad being a bad shot, she didn’t get hurt; so yes, he missed her head like he misses her—or so he says—but that didn’t make Mom any less mad; she pulled us down the stairs and out the door and into her baby blue Chrysler minivan so fast, we didn’t even have time to fully wake up, and we were still pajama-clad and confused and curled up on her cracking vinyl seats, rubbing the sleep from our eyes, when we heard her whisper: Help, so sad and soft, into her Nokia—the same blue as the old van—and it was worse than all the yelling in the world, so I looked out the dirty window and up to the sky and asked the blurry dots of stars the same. Pretty please.
Melissa Greenwood who writes CNF (essays and flash), book reviews, and poetry, has an MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Antioch University Los Angeles. She has been published—both under her real and pen names—in Brevity, The Los Angeles Review, the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Manifest-Station, Sledgehammer Lit, and the Jewish Literary Journal, among others, and she has been nominated for awards by Meow Meow Pow Pow (best small fiction award) and Kelp (best of the net), where her work has also appeared. Melissa lives with her Canadian husband in LA, where she teaches Pilates (and also sometimes blogs about it), and he teaches elementary school. In her free time, she can be found reading, writing, singing, or watching a show on one of the streaming platforms—but always in her uniform of stretchy pants. Importantly, she is Team Dark Chocolate.