A glass of crazy, p.18
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       A Glass of Crazy, p.18

           Tina Laningham
 
I sat at the kitchen table with my head propped in my hands, waiting for the pounding to stop. The coffee made it worse. Berta used hand signals to ask if I wanted scrambled eggs, but the thought of food made me nauseous. She was filling my cup with more coffee when Dad and the Kat pulled in the driveway.

  "Hey sugar dumpling!" Dad said in the doorway.

  "Where've you been?" I asked in my most disapproving voice.

  Dad came over and squeezed me while the Kat walked straight through the kitchen and disappeared. "I had some business to take care of," he said.

  "All night?" I cringed at my own words. I'd always hated when Mom interrogated Dad that way.

  "We were outta town, baby."

  "Don't lie to me!" A waterfall of tears drenched my cheeks. If I had been physically able to run, I would have, but I was still sick from the wine, and so all I could do was hobble to the stairs, sobbing uncontrollably. God it was pathetic.

  On the way up, Dad tried to comfort me, but I elbowed him away and just before shutting the door said, "Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving!"

  It was official: I had become Mom.

  Someone might as well have been pounding my head with a rock while I cried. After I was all cried out, the hot shower helped clear my sinuses a little and I was glad it was over because I had survived my first real cry.

  Out the window, the green rolling hills seemed farther away and then a soft knocking on the door interrupted my empty thoughts.

  "Baby, can I come in?" Dad entered timidly and sat on the corner of the bed. "I know everyone's a little over-emotional today, so I have an idea I think will please both of you."

  I went back to staring out the window. Like I cared about Kat's feelings. What did she have to be upset about? That I was visiting my own dad?

  "There's a little spa just down the road a piece-Aguas de Dios-it means God's natural springs or somethin' like that. We'll relax in some nice warm mineral baths, have lunch in the jardin, you know, chill."

  "But-"

  "What's that word you used to say all the time?" Dad rubbed his chin. "Chillaxin!

  "Dad, please. Nobody says that anymore." My forehead wrinkled. "What about Thanksgiving?"

  Dad chuckled like he was laughing at me. "This is Mexico. We don't have Thanksgiving."

  I felt stupid. Seemed like we could've still had turkey with dressing, like we'd done for the past fourteen years of my life.

  "I told your Mom to be sure and pack your swimsuit," he said. "You have it?"

  I nodded that I did.

  He gave me a quick hug and on the way out said, "We're leavin' in half an hour."

  Mom always told me to think of something I was grateful for on Thanksgiving Day. I closed my eyes. I was sort of grateful Dad had come home, even though he probably would have rather been someplace else.

  Dad was alone in the car listening to a message on the phone when I climbed in back. I wished he would drive off and leave the Kat behind so we could spend a day by ourselves. It was okay if the Kat wanted to be alone with him for a whole day, but apparently it wasn't okay for me to spend a day with my own dad. She had him every day, but I was only staying for five days. It pissed me off that she took away one of my days, and just when I was really getting stirred up about it, the back door opened. With a cigarette in her mouth, the Kat shoved a big beach bag on the seat next to me without even acknowledging my presence.

  I held up my phone like I was trying to read something and snagged a photo. She wasn't dressed any differently today, but that cigarette hanging out of her mouth pushed hooker chic down to a whole new level and I knew Rafa would scream over that shot. When the Kat climbed in front, I studied the photo. Dad traded this for Mom? I totally didn't get it.

  Good thing it only took ten minutes to get to God's Natural Springs because in that short time, the Kat had insulted enough Mexican people to trigger a new revolution. Even Dad agreed the Kat was out of line when she got mad at an old man pulling a donkey with two big milk cans strapped on its back. The Kat had leaned over to Dad's side and honked the horn because she thought the milkman was taking too long to cross the street.

  "Baby," Dad said pushing the Kat back to her side of the car. "Remember we're guests in his country. Have some respect." It was the first time Dad showed any sign of irritation toward the Kat and it gave me hope this whole thing could blow over and Dad might still come home.

  After Dad parked and we carried all our stuff through the gate with a sign that read, Auga de Dios, Dad had to go into a locker room for men, which meant I had to be alone with the Kat. Inside the women's room, people changed into bathing suits and stuffed their clothes in lockers. The Kat basically ignored me while she took off what few clothes she had on and wiggled into a hot pink bikini. All I had to do was pull off my T-shirt and shorts because I was already wearing my favorite blue and white striped one-piece swimsuit underneath.

  The Kat eyed me up and down. "You wore your bathing suit under your clothes?" It was more of a putdown than a question. "You're not riding home on our leather seats in a wet bathing suit."

  The hangover was making me overly sensitive and I wanted to explode. I put my sneakers in the locker and placed my clothes on top.

  "First of all," I said to Kat, "when did our family car become your car?"

  The Kat looked stunned.

  "Second, if you wanted me to do something a certain way, all you had to do was say it." My voice shook. "My mom would've told me before we even left the house to wear my underwear and change into my bathing suit later."

  I wasn't normally claustrophobic, but I sure felt that way all of a sudden, or maybe the Kat and I were like two magnets repelling each other. I rushed outside to look for Dad.

  He stood under a shady tree talking to someone on the phone. By the time I got there, the Kat was running up behind me, holding out a towel. Dad got off the phone just as the Kat was saying to me, "Here's your towel, honey." Clearly this was an act. I snatched the towel and headed toward the rock pools.

  While I swished my foot around to check out the water, about a dozen people relaxed in the warm pool with their eyes closed like they were praying or meditating. I was in no mood for either.

  Dad must not have noticed their eyes were closed because he shouted across the pool for me to come over. When I got there, he was beaming. "Kat found this nice shady spot for us."

  "Great," I said with less enthusiasm than a broken guitar string and spread my towel on the grass.

  "I'm here with two good lookin' women," Dad said with a huge grin. "How lucky can a guy get?"

  Ewww. Putting me in the same category as a hooker totally creeped me out. The Kat thrust her chest and arched her back until she looked like one of those women on the mud flap of a semi truck. I nearly heaved until the Kat slid her eyes to my flat chest and gave me a look of pity. My shoulders hunched and I wanted to crawl under a rock.

  "What are we waitin' for, ladies?" Dad pulled the Kat up with one hand and when he reached out his other, I turned away. Again, the creepy factor.

  The second we got in the water, the Kat wrapped her arms and legs around Dad and he carried her, bobbing up and down. I moved as far away as I could.

  At the other end of the pool, a plump Mexican woman waded through a maze of rocks toward a huge stone dome that must have been hundreds of years old. I followed her through the maze until we reached a tunnel.

  The woman waded in the tunnel, also made of stones, and even though it was dark, I followed her through waist-high warm water for at least a hundred feet. At the end of the tunnel, I entered the ancient dome.

  Tiny streams of sunlight let in just enough light to see the peaceful faces of the people inside. Water dripped from the rocks above and the dome was so tranquil, I heard each drop with perfect clarity. This place was sacred. I closed my eyes and savored the moment. I didn't want to be out in the rock pools with Dad and the Kat crawling all over each other like wild animals on some nature show. I didn't want to be in the stinky ghet
to apartment with Mom acting like I'm not even there. I didn't want to be at school with kids spreading rumors that I had mono. I just wanted to listen to the drips of water echo inside the dome.

  In the warm water, I heard my breathing-in, out, in, out, a soft drip, in, out. But the stillness shattered when a familiar voice giggled.

  "You're so bad."

  I didn't have to open my eyes to know it was the Kat. Of course I did open my eyes and when I saw what they were doing, I wanted to get out of the dome fast. Apparently, I wasn't the only person who felt that way because all the other people had lined up at the only escape route: the tunnel.

  Porno stuff was weird enough, but when it's one of your parents, it's beyond gross. When the last person waded out through the tunnel, I turned to Dad and screamed three words I never in a zillion years thought I would say to my favorite person on the planet.

  "I hate you!"

  Those three words hung in the hollow dome longer than I'd wanted. The Kat climbed off Dad and gazed at me like I was crazy. All the words I wanted to say filled my head-so many words I couldn't say any of them. Until right there in God's natural springs, all the words flew out of my mouth before I could stop them.

  First I glared at the Kat. "What gives you the freakin' right to wiggle your butt around in the middle of my family like we're nothing more than a pumpkin pie you can slice up and take the biggest piece!" I had no idea if that even made sense. "And you Dad-you just stand around and let her. What's wrong with you?"

  Dad started to say something, but I cut him off when my laser eyes zeroed back in on the Kat. "My mom never drank around my dad and if you cared anything about him, you wouldn't either!"

  By the look in her eyes, the Kat was ready to kill, but that didn't stop me. "And my mom never makes me feel bad about being flat chested. That's so freaking weird. I'm not your competition-I'm his kid!"

  That's when the Kat went into victim mode, looking all hurt and everything, and Dad obviously bought her act because he started comforting her. I trudged through the water toward the escape tunnel. If Dad was gonna take her side, I was so outta there.

  Needless to say, we packed up and left.

  - 19 -

 
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