Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays by Ros Baxter Read Free Book Online

Book: Home for the Holidays by Ros Baxter Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ros Baxter
tryin’ to go over that fence? Razor wire’s real dangerous. And you in that nice skirt n’all.’ 
    His accent carried me back somewhere half-remembered. He sounded like he came from an even smaller town than me. 
    ‘It’s a dress. Not a skirt.’
    Why don’t men know the names for garments? You don’t need to be Sarah Jessica Parker to know if it starts at the waist it’s a skirt, and if it goes all the way it’s a dress. I’m hardly any fashionista myself, but surely we all learn that in our first readers. Look, Dick, look. House! Dog! Dress!
    The driver spoke again. ‘Well then, I guess the point my buddy here’s trying to make is what the fuck were you doing on a razor wire fence in your itty bitty party dress?’
    ‘Look it’s probably hard to understand —’
    I wanted to say for a mean old leprechaun but didn’t.
    ‘— but it’s like this. One: it’s a fact: the death penalty kills innocent people. Two: it’s incredibly barbaric, and those people, they’re just like us —’
    Well, actually, hopefully not like you. Didn’t say this either.
    ‘Three: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights actually says —’
    He cut me off with a belch. ‘Yeah, well, some Americans actually say that being arrested for trespass is pretty stupid’. He started laughing — a horrible sound through which I swore I could hear the twanging of his hardened arteries.
    ‘Don’t worry,’ Baby Cop said. ‘They probably won’t even charge ya. First time?’
    ‘Yes,’ I sniffed, poking my glasses up my nose. ‘First time’.
    But Leprechaun wasn’t finished. ‘You people should just get a job.’
    Little did he know.
    I contemplated telling him, just blurting it out.
    But he wouldn’t believe me. I’m not like other mathematicians. What are other mathematicians like, you’re wondering? Well, take my thesis supervisor, who thought U2 (you know, Irish pop band?) meant U squared. He stayed up ‘til two in the morning to watch Live Aid, thinking it was a mathumentary. I love him, but like how you love an elderly uncle who buries guns in the backyard and chews tobacco even though he lives in the city. Then there’s the Dean of the Math School. He only wears clothes donated by a friend of his who runs a morgue. I once saw him wearing jeans with a bullet hole in them.
    I ran a finger down the window glass, playing with the condensation. The car shuddered as it stopped and started in the mid-town traffic. Baby Cop fiddled with the radio and that song came on, the one where the guy declares ‘they could never, ever, ever tear us apart’. I snorted, and tried hard to think about the eleven place orders of pi.  So perfect, so soothing.
    But that song, that raspy seduction, kept insinuating itself into my brain.
    Never tear us apart.
    I argued with it. 
    I tried telling the voice that it was wrong, that the chances of evisceration were actually quite high when it came to love. In fact, directly proportionate to the depth of feeling. I mentally reminded the singer that love takes perfectly nice, sane people and turns them into cartoon versions of themselves. Metaphorically running off a cliff, not realizing there’s nothing below but air until it’s too late.
    Until they hurtle like Wily Coyote to their doom. 
    Had it really been only a year ago?
    ‘Welcome home, Princess,’ the driver said as we pulled up at the sixth.
    I gave myself a mental Chinese burn. I had more important things to worry about.
    Like what happens when you wear a red lace thong to a strip search.
    Some things in life just don’t count. 
    Like cookies’n’cream ice-cream eaten straight from the container at 2am. 
    High school proms where you wear Doc Martens instead of a frock.
    Adolescence where your only boyfriend is your Math Quiz partner.
    In a similar vein, my first arrest didn’t really count because, in the end, I didn’t actually get charged after all, just as Baby Cop had

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