Poor, Poor Ramona

Illustration by Alessandro Gottardo

It’s a long way up the stairs to my dad’s office and my backpack weighs heavy on my shoulder. I let it slip into the crook of my arm. At the front door I pause to catch my breath, look down at the carpet. The winter green pattern is stained from coffee my dad’s spilled trying to open the door with his arms full. I open the door. My stepmother isn’t at her desk. “Hello?” I call, throwing my backpack on one of the waiting chairs. The office smells like toner, cigarette smoke, ammonia, mostly cigarette smoke. I take a handful of hard candies she keeps in the bottom drawer of her desk and stash them in the pocket of my corduroys for later.

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