My father tells me I’m different. He doesn’t say how, or if different is bad. Just leaves the word twirling and swirling around like the time he flushed my not-dead goldfish down the toilet. He said he was teaching me a lesson. Wouldn’t say what the lesson was or where the goldfish was going.
My father says get used to it. Again, doesn’t say what it is. He likes being mysterious. Will disappear for days sometimes, or else he pretends he’s James Bond. Tells my mother he wants his coffee shaken not stirred. Stuff like that.
My father tells me not to listen to boys. Not one of them can be trusted.
He says that because I’m different, boys will get me to do their homework. He says boys won’t treat me well. That girls like me, who are different, will buy boys presents to get their attention. That boys will pretend they like me. Call me a good egg.
I look in the mirror for the egg part. I’m not yolky or runny or anything. When I tell this to my father, he says, well just be careful.
I am careful. And the night my father doesn’t come home and it turns into forever, my mother is the one who turns egg. Cracked and shattered, sprawled like a pain-omelet on the couch.
That’s when I know I’m different. Won’t miss this man who tells me what I am but won’t tell me. Leaves my mother and me swirling around and twirling around without giving us even a clue about where we are going.