This is a work of fiction.
“Your order has been placed,” the salesman says.
“Thanks. When will it be delivered?”
“You should get it in about a month.”
“A month? I need it for college now.”
The line clicks. He’s hung up on me! I call back to speak to somebody in customer service.
After waiting on hold forever, a woman answers. I ask her if there’s any chance they can expedite my order or something.
“What’s the order number?”
“Uh, he didn’t give me one.”
“I need it in order to find the order.”
“Can’t you find it with my name?”
“I’m afraid not. Every customer is given an order number.”
“Can I speak to your supervisor, please?”
“I’m sorry, I can’t hear you,” she says, and I hear another click. I’ll have to ask Mom if I can use hers.
I go into the living room, but Dad isn’t there. I look at the clock. It’s 1:30. He must be on a Zoom call. Should I risk knocking on Mom’s door? I go into the hall and approach the bedroom door. It’s closed. What if Mona’s sleeping? Mom’d kill me if I woke her up.
I hear the toilet flush, and water running. A few seconds later, Mom comes out of the bathroom.
“Hi, Mom. How’s Mona?”
Mom looks tird but smiles at me and says, “Sleeping.”
“That’s good. Can I borrow your laptop, please? Mine’s broken and I have to wait a month for a new one.”
“I’m sorry. I need it to do research about Mona.”
“Yes. I know nothing about babies.”
Mona starts to cry, and Mom moves faster than I’ve ever seen her move. Victoria must have really put the fear of God into poor Mom.
I go back to my room, feeling like I might cry too. I have no computer and don’t even know what my assignments are. I consider my bank balance, subtract the amount spent on the computer, pick up the phone, and call Apple.
A woman named Regina answers.
“Hi, I’m Billy. I need a laptop for college, please.”
“Certinaly, what will you be using the computer for?”
“What are you studying?”
“Lots of stuff. This is my first year.”
“Our MacBook Air is light and portable, and can handle basic computing tasks. Since you’re a student, you get a discount. Does that sound good?”
“Yeah. When will it be delivered?”
“In two weeks.”
“I need it now, please, is there anything you can do?”
I hear her clicking keys, and then she says, “The only laptop available for shipping right now is the 16-inch MacBook Pro. It’s a great machine, but even with the discount, it’s quite expensive. It’s a high-end model.” She tells me the price, I count to ten, and order one. I make sure that I ask for an order number.
When I get off the phone, it’s after two and I’m starving. My cell phone doesn’t have a good data plan, so I can’t use Google to research dinner out of the freezer, but maybe there’ll be instructions on the packages, and I think Mom has some old cookbooks somewhere.
I go into the kitchen and open the freezer. I want meat, vegetables, and starch. I see a package of frozen peas. The instructions aren’t as comlicated as I thought they’d be. Same for a package of frozen fries and some seasoned chicken. If this is so easy, why don’t I know how to cook like Mom does? I’ve eaten this kind of stuff since I can remember.
I’m loading up my plate when Dad staggers into the kitchen. He looks like he’s just woken up after a night of drunken partying. (He doesn’t do that, but I’ve seen how it looks in movies.) He sits down at the table and puts his head in his hands.
“Are you hungry?”
He looks at my plate and shakes his head. In the awkward silence with him sitting there, it’s hard to eat, but I have to, and I don’t want to waste this food. Why can’t he go sit in the living room? He obviously doesn’t want to talk, and he’s not getting a coffee or even a glass of water, so why does he have to sit here and make me feel like I’m doing something wrong?
Then it gets worse.