Nightmare at 4
“Zoe, come here!”
I wander into our TV-room that could very well be a closet with no doors. Wire bins of art supplies, board games I only place with myself, and the worn red binder with “math” written on it in Sharpie even though it holds play-dough recipes, swamp the walls and surround our 13.5-inch TV, which is on.
That’s weird—mommy says that the TV can’t go on until after dinner, and only then if I ate my food and put my dish in the dishwasher.
Mommy is watching a movie—two buildings are burning, and blue banners stream across the screen with words on them that I can’t read and don’t want to. I don’t like this movie—I’d rather watch Madeline and the Bad Hat.
Mommy gets up and snags the phone, startling me. She stares at the buttons and asks me what Daddy’s cell phone number is. I don’t know and don’t care. Daddy will be home tonight from work, and he’ll bring Lea and I Nutter-Butters, like he always does. He’ll be home in a few hours—why does she want to call him?
Mommy dials a number and I hear it ringing—faintly, I hear Daddy’s voice on the speaker, saying hello mean-like, like when he's busy and you shouldn't pester him, Zoe; he's working. Mommy starts talking loudly—too loudly—and Daddy says something before she can finish. Mommy doesn’t take her eyes off of the TV, leaning on the big brown armchair with her free hand while she tells me to stay put for a sec, sweetie.
In the movie, the buildings burn.