Illustration by Alessandro Gottardo

All five of us are sitting awkwardly in my mother’s living room: my mom and I, my stepmother and my stepmother’s parents, Ander and Mariam. I’m eleven years old and I know no other way to call them than by their names. My stepmother insists I call them grandma and grandpa, but I refuse. Especially in front of my mom. They’ve come to ask her permission to let Ander take me on a motorcycle trip through Northern California and Nevada, and even after everything I’ve told her she seems to be actually considering it. I try to catch her eye, give her some signal, but she’s deep in conversation with Ander.

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