Into The Fire(5)

By: E. L. Todd



***

I walked into my parents' house in Connecticut. “Yo. Your baby is home.”

“Is that Ash?” Mom said quietly.

Dad whispered back. “Who else would barge in like that?”

I entered the kitchen and saw them having tea while reading the newspaper. “Your day just got brighter. What’s up, Mom and Pop?”

Mom gave me a curt smile but it looked forced. “Hey, honey. How are you?”

“I’ve been better.” I gave her a quick hug then raised my hand to high-five Dad.

He eyed it awkwardly before he completed the embrace. “What’s up, Son?”

I sat in the seat then snatched a cookie. “Dude, these are the best.” I ate five of them in three seconds. Crumbs got on the table and on my fingertips.

Mom eyed me with disapproval.

Dad was more laid back than Mom. “How was your day?”

“Pretty shitty.”

“Don’t cuss,” Mom barked.

“Pretty lame,” I said. “The bank denied my loan application again.” I watched their reaction to my news.

Mom eyed Dad then quickly looked down.

Dad felt his teacup but didn’t say anything.

It got awkward fast. “I’m not trying to be one of those annoying suits, but I could really use the money I loaned you. It’s been four years and I’ve put off opening my shop for too long.”

Mom sighed like she was irritated. She sipped her tea without looking at me.

Dad continued to eye his glass.

Why was it always so awkward when I brought up this subject? “Look, I know the business has been doing well. Surely, you have the money by now.” I didn’t want to stick my nose in their business but I didn’t know what else to do.

“Sorry, we don’t,” Dad said quietly.

“Seriously?” I blurted without thinking. “You just bought a new Audi. How can you not have the money?” I didn’t want to accuse my parents of lying but nothing was adding up.

“We got a loan,” Mom explained.

“Why are you buying things you can’t afford?” I snapped. “Period.”

Dad glared at me. “Don’t talk to your mother like that.”

“I’m not,” I barked. “I’m talking to you like that.”

The tension escalated.

“Look, you don’t have to give me all of it. Just give me what you have. If I lessen the amount I need to borrow, the bank might help me out.”

Mom and Dad stared at each other.

Seriously, what was I missing? “You must have some money to loan me. You’re making your mortgage somehow and you just hired more employees.”

Mom fixed her hair like she was flustered.

Dad adjusted his glasses like he didn’t know what else to do.

“Okay, cut the shit,” I said. “What’s up?”

Mom cleared her throat. “Ash, your father and I love you very much…”

Oh no. Here we go.

“But we want you to turn your life around. Opening a shop is just going to put you further down this path.”

“What path?” I asked. “I’m happy. Don’t you want me to be happy?”

Dad took over. “We think you could be happier if you changed some things.”

“Like what?” I asked.

“How about you come to the company and work there?” Mom asked. “You could move up and eventually take it over.”

“But I don’t care about software,” I answered. “I never have.”

Mom fidgeted with the fancy bracelet on her wrist. “And owning a tattoo shop is something you care about?”

“Yeah.” What was the big deal? “I like inking. I enjoy it. I always have.”

Mom eyed the ink on my arms with disdain. “You need to make better choices in your life. Owning a tattoo shop isn’t a good way to start.”

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