Poor, Poor Ramona

Illustration by Anna Kövecses

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. Spilled on the door and doorknob where it’s easily wiped away with a tissue, but not the carpet. The carpet stained. 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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