Our household is down to a single car, a sign of the times, so I agree to drive Amethyst to community college on the condition that she not cast a spell on me. My father promises nothing but expresses a desire to see me get off easy, maybe just the recipient of generic bad luck wishes or Athlete’s Foot.
“Maybe you’ll end up married,” he continues. “Maybe you’ll have your own Carol.”
Carol is our mom but she doesn’t live with us anymore. She’s in Albuquerque, servicing pottery wheels and chasing her dream of one day becoming an honorary Pueblo. She’s already drawn blood, filed the paperwork.
“Maybe you’ll be a Mortgage Man like your dad.”
I grab the keys to the Murano off the kitchen counter and pray to a god I haven’t communicated with since the third grade, hoping to counteract what’s coming.
“Didn’t think Goths ate that shit.”
Amethyst is gripping a breakfast burrito like it’s a flute, its molten innards oozing from both ends. She at least has the foresight to tuck a napkin into the drawstrings of her cloak. Otherwise, she’d have pico de gallo and cheddar cheese down the front of her purple, crushed-velvet bodysuit.
“I’m a High Priestess,” she replies. “I do whatever the fuck I want.”
“Your Christian name is Claire Fogel and you once shit yourself on Batman: The Ride.”
Amethyst has no retort. She’s more interested in the various goings-on of the White Glove Car Wash on the corner, the application of terry cloth to glass and the chain-smoking of Kools.
“INS could have a field day at this joint.” This she manages between bites of egg and tortilla, sending gummy fragments of both into the dash.
I move the swinging shade so that it’s against the driver-side window, blocking the white light refracted off of all the snowdrifts along Route 83.
“That’s pretty Republican for someone who spills hot candle wax on her boyfriend’s balls.”
I pull into the circular drive at the main entrance but Amethyst doesn’t get out. I expect her to crack, to tell me in the strictest confidence that she’s carrying a baby she made with a dude with a sword collection and a True Blood fan blog, but she does nothing of the sort. Instead, she takes her sweet time getting her shit together, beatboxes a syncopated meter that could’ve only crafted by human traffickers sequestered in an Austrian sex dungeon. When she finally slings the last of three canvas knapsacks over her shoulder, presumably heavy with an assortment of amulets and potions, she turns to me with leaden eyes.
“She was right to leave, you know,” Amethyst deadpans. “You two don’t deserve her.”
“We deserve a mom who wants to be a mom.”
My sister shrugs, exits the car without another word. She doesn’t bother to shut the door, just lets the winter squalls slam it shut behind her. The thunderclap of impact with the door frame gives a few classmates pause as they pass her on the sidewalk. Her cloak billows in the wind and, after recklessly eyeballing her get-up, the kids look me dead in the eyes through the windshield.
Say something, I want to scream. Say something about my sister and I’ll kill you all.
Thomas Mundt lives in Chicago. His new(ish) stories have found homes in places like The Cleveland Review, Burnt Bridge, Bartleby Snopes, and Kugelmass, all less-than-meticulously collected for your convenience at www.dontdissthewizard.
blogspot.com. He is currently completing his first story collection, You Have Until Noon to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe.