A Dinner Spoiled
Heath gripped his sweaty palm around the fork. Lauren sat across from him, with her hair in a messy bun and purple rimmed glasses going on and on about her first day of high school like it was some fantastic trip to Disneyland. His Dad buzzed out the kitchen draped in his Head Chef in Charge apron.
“Get some salad.” Patrick Caldwell with his salt and pepper fade and rimless glasses. He placed the wooden bowl brimming with lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, and feta in the middle of the table.
“You know lettuce is like zero calories.” Lauren sliced her fork into her half eaten chuck of lasagna. “So, why eat it anyways?”
“Green vegetables are good for regulating blood pressure, high in fiber and iron.” Mr. Caldwell sat down at the head of the table taking a quick sip of red wine.
“Are you ever not a doctor?” Lauren asked.
“Do you ever stop talking?” Heath snarked placing down his fork. He’d been staring at the rectangular slice of noddle, tomato sauce, cheese, and ground beef every since his father called him down for dinner. He didn’t have an appetite, keeping a secret stole it.
“Do you ever stop being a douche?” Lauren fired back.
“Lauren! Watch your mouth.” Andrea ordered escaping the rambling thoughts of her troubled mind as she sat at the other end of the table.
“What’s up with ya’ll?” Mr. Caldwell asked scooping salad onto his plate as he looked at them. “Ya’ll have been quiet since ya’ll got home.”
“Nothing’s wrong.” Mrs. Caldwell said as Heath rolled his eyes drinking lukewarm water. “I just had a long day at work.” She stuffed a piece of lasagna in her mouth.
Heath gingerly sat down the cup, “Me too. School was long and tiring.” He slowly turned the glass around on the green tablecloth. “ I just don’t feel like talking.” He shrugged listlessly.
“What’s got you so tried?” Lauren asked with a crooked smile. “Is it A.) Classes. B.) Football practice or C.) Stalking Taylor.”
“I don’t stalk Taylor.” Heath stopped turning the glass. “We have the same AP classes and we’re friends, have been since elementary.
“Right.” Lauren nodded mockingly. “Whatever.”
“I think Lauren’s right. You’ve been hung up on Taylor lately.” Mr. Caldwell drizzled his helping of salad with homemade dressing. “What happened to Jade?”
“Nothing.” Heath mumbled really not wanting to talk about a girl he dated last year. “ We just drifted.”
“Did she cheat on you like Donovan did Taylor?” Lauren took off her glasses and rubbed her eyes still tired from wearing contacts all day. “They had this huge fight.” She glanced from her mom to her father. “In the student parking lot on the last day of school.” Lauren ignored Heath’s scowl and kept talking, “Cheaters are the worst.”
“Shut up!” Heath ordered then shifted his eyes to his mom slowly chewing looking down at her plate. “What do you even know about it? You were in Middle School.”
“Everyone knew.” Lauren spoke. “It was on Twitter and there’s a video. What did I say that was so wrong? You should be happy.”
Mr. Caldwell clenched his eyes close. “You didn’t say anything wrong, Lauren.” He sat up straight. “You’re right cheaters are the worst, right Andrea.” He sternly peered at his wife.
Andrea dabbed the corners of her mouth with the light forest green napkin. “I wouldn’t know.”
“Is that what you’re sticking too.” Mr. Caldwell pushed away his never touched plate. “Maybe we should ask Luca?”
Andrea glared at Heath, “You told him!”
“I didn’t say anything.” Heath shook his head. “I promise!”
“Who’s Luca?” Lauren asked with a confused look plastered on her face.
“Your mom’s boyfriend.” Mr. Caldwell seethed. “You pulled my son in your trash!”
“No!” Mrs. Caldwell eagerly denied. Her hands trembled and her face burned scarlet. “How did you find out?”
“Does it matter?” Mr. Caldwell bit the inside of his cheek holding in his pain.
Mrs. Caldwell said nothing as tears trickled down her face.
“I answered your phone when you were in the shower last night. He thought I was you.”
Heath stood up picking up his plate, “We should go to our room.”
“Sit down!” Mr. Caldwell demanded. Heath quickly lowered himself back in his chair. “The only person going anywhere is your mom.”
“I’m not going anywhere!” Mrs. Caldwell glared back at her husband. “This is my house.”
Mr. Caldwell’s nostrils flared, “Was this your house when your were screwing another man?”
“Dad!” Lauren yelled with swollen eyes.
“I WANT YOU OUT!” Mr. Caldwell professed.
“Dad! She can’t go!” Heath interjected himself. “She’s pregnant.” He whispered digging his nails in the palm of his hand.
“Is it mine?” Mr. Caldwell pointed to himself. “IS IT MINE?” He pound his fist on the table causing Lauren to jump.
“I don’t know.” Mrs. Caldwell whispered as her throat burned.
“WHAT! ANDREA!” Mr. Caldwell yelled.
“I don’t know!” Mrs. Caldwell swiped tears from her lowered head.
“Stay.” Mr. Caldwell ordered with a shaky voice. “I’m leaving.” He stormed out.
Heath looked over at his sister falling apart, sobbing in her hands. He heard his father stomp up the stairs and slam the door leaving silence in his wake. “It’ll be okay Lauren.” Heath held her in his arms. Lauren grabbed his waist and buried her face in his chest. He looked at his mom.
“I’m sorry.” Mrs. Caldwell whispered.
“I know.” He replied letting a tear slip from his eye.