Chapter no 41 – ‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌Breakfast‌


“Can you pick me up from school today?” I said the next morning, smearing some cream cheese on my bagel.

Mom was making August’s lunch (American cheese on whole-wheat bread, soft enough for Auggie to eat) while August sat eating oatmeal at the table. Dad was getting ready to go to work. Now that I was in high school, the new school routine was going to be that Dad and I would take the subway together in the morning, which meant his having to leave fifteen minutes earlier than usual, then I’d get off at my stop and he’d keep going. And Mom was going to pick me up after school in the car.

“I was going to call Miranda’s mother to see if she could drive you home again,” Mom answered.

“No, Mom!” I said quickly. “You pick me up. Or I’ll just take the subway.”

“You know I don’t want you to take the subway by yourself yet,” she answered.

“Mom, I’m fifteen! Everybody my age takes the subway by themselves!”

“She can take the subway home,” said Dad from the other room, adjusting his tie as he stepped into the kitchen.

“Why can’t Miranda’s mother just pick her up again?” Mom argued with him.

“She’s old enough to take the subway by herself,” Dad insisted.

Mom looked at both of us. “Is something going on?” She didn’t address her question to either one of us in particular.

“You would know if you had come back to check on me,” I said spitefully, “like you said you would.”

“Oh God, Via,” said Mom, remembering now how she had completely ditched me last night. She put down the knife she was using to cut Auggie’s grapes in half (still a choking hazard for him because of the size of his palate). “I am so sorry. I fell asleep in Auggie’s room. By the time I woke up …”

“I know, I know.” I nodded indifferently.

Mom came over, put her hands on my cheeks, and lifted my face to look at her.

“I’m really, really sorry,” she whispered. I could tell she was. “It’s okay!” I said.

“Via …”

“Mom, it’s fine.” This time I meant it. She looked so genuinely sorry I just wanted to let her off the hook.

She kissed and hugged me, then returned to the grapes. “So, is something going on with Miranda?” she asked. “Just that she’s acting like a complete jerk,” I said. “Miranda’s not a jerk!” Auggie quickly chimed in.

“She can be!” I yelled. “Believe me.”

“Okay then, I’ll pick you up, no problem,” Mom said decisively, sweeping the half-grapes into a snack bag with the side of her knife. “That was the plan all along anyway. I’ll pick Auggie up from school in the car and then we’ll pick you up. We’ll probably get there about a quarter to four.”

“No!” I said firmly, before she’d even finished.

“Isabel, she can take the subway!” said Dad impatiently. “She’s a big girl now. She’s reading War and Peace, for crying out loud.”

“What does War and Peace have to with anything?” answered Mom, clearly annoyed.

“It means you don’t have to pick her up in the car like she’s a little girl,” he said sternly. “Via, are you ready? Get your bag and let’s go.”

“I’m ready,” I said, pulling on my backpack. “Bye, Mom! Bye, Auggie!”

I kissed them both quickly and headed toward the door. “Do you even have a MetroCard?” Mom said after me.

“Of course she has a MetroCard!” answered Dad, fully exasperated. “Yeesh, Momma! Stop worrying so much! Bye,” he said, kissing her on the cheek. “Bye, big boy,” he said to August, kissing him on the top of his head. “I’m proud of you. Have a good day.”

“Bye, Daddy! You too.”

Dad and I jogged down the stoop stairs and headed down the block. “Call me after school before you get on the subway!” Mom yelled at me from the window. I didn’t even turn around but waved my hand at her so she’d know I heard her. Dad did turn around, walking

backward for a few steps.

War and Peace, Isabel!” he called out, smiling as he pointed at me.

“War and Peace!”

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