The prompt was to write a scene based on a music video, open to interpretation.
|Marley should have stayed in bed. As she turned the corner to walk into the kitchen, she saw Jim standing at the counter, next to her mom. She started to turn around, but her mom said, “There’s the birthday girl! Sorry I couldn’t be here for you today to help celebrate Dear, but we’ll make up for it tonight. I promise!”
Marley wanted to say, “Well you can start by sending Jim home,” but she knew that wouldn’t go over too well, especially considering technically this was Jim’s house. So, she forced a smile and said, “Thanks.”
Jim asked, “How old are you now Missy - thirteen? Fourteen?”
“I am eleven and my name is Marley.”
Marley’s mom quickly spoke up, “Dinner will be ready in about ten minutes. Missy should be home from Rajah’s by then. After, I thought we’d all go out for ice cream. Jim says there’s a parlor that sells your salted caramel in the next town over.”
Her mother had to know that going out with Jim for ice cream would be the last thing she wanted to do on her birthday. All these changes in Marley's life made her feel like she aged about five years in the last few months, even having to take on the role of the reasonable parent at times. It took a ton of willpower to keep her mouth shut as well as to keep her face from expressing how she really felt.
She watched as her mom took a sip of a beer - her own beer. She looked away so her mother wouldn’t see her reaction. Up until now, as far as Marley knew, neither of her parents drank - her mom said she didn’t like how it made her feel out of control and her dad mentioned something about his alcoholic parents whom the girls never met because they died in a car accident before they were born. So, what was her mom doing drinking now? Marley’s only exposure to alcohol was through television and from what she saw, it made people stupid, and sometimes violent. Although her mom and Jim only recently started spending time together in the presence of the girls, Marley already noticed Jim often had a can of something other than soda in his hand. Maybe it was nothing to worry about. Maybe.
Missy burst into the house singing “Happy Birthday,” using her best Elvis Presley impression. Marley, although grateful for the comic relief, pretended like it offended her by putting her hands over her ears. Missy came directly over to Marley, pulled both hands down to Marley’s side and finished the song. Their mom and Jim both lifted their beer cans and said, “Cheers to Marley!”
“You’re drinking a beer Mom?” Missy asked.
“Just a light one. Jim asked me to join him, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Take the edge off a bit, you know.”
Neither Missy nor Marley responded.
“It is really none of your business whether I drink or not - either of you. Now, dinner’s ready. Let’s eat.”
Although everyone sat down and ate the dinner, little conversation took place. Much to Marley’s relief, the trip to the ice cream parlor never happened either. But the issues relating to alcohol were only just beginning.