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  • "I'm not even surprised. I'm really not. It's just—he won't even ask!"

    I'm whining, voice on the hinges of breaking.

    "I know, sweetie. I know. But he's—"

    Your. Dad.

    I don't need to hear her say it. It's always the same. We've had this conversation more times than the years I've been alive.

    I'm twenty-one. In college. Honor student. Living in an honor's house. Working four jobs. Writing my sixth novel. Dying slowly.

    Her voice is sugar-sweet, pitched high, with the kind of cadence that lulls babies to sleep and breaks wild horses. "Rosi?"

    I hate when she says my name like that. Like it's a festering wound—I'm a festering wound.



    "I'm fine." I'm not.

    "I'm not surprised." Oh yes, I am.

    "Mom, my phone’s about to—" I'm staring at a blank screen. Three percent my ass.

    I blow out a warm breath, watching it freeze the air. "Like I give a fuck. He's always like this. I can do it on my own. Fuck him."

    Babyshoe. Babyshoe. Babyshoe.

    When I was three or four or five I saw a baby shoe. It was blue, hanging by its shoestrings on a naked tree branch. No, it was pink, slung over and dangling from an electric pole. Or was it muddied and yellow, smushed up against a drain on the side of a road?

    I’m not sure.

    But for days I obsessed about this babyshoe, asking my mother and grandmother and grandfather about its infant owner and their cold foot. My family likes to tell me what I really saw, but I always forget.

    My only memory is a single chanted word.

    It’s the same with my father. I’ll mutter under my breath for days. Block his number. Bitch to my friends. Cry to my mom. But the memory will fade, leaving one imprint in its place.

    “Asshole. Asshole. Asshole.”
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