Five Words, given to me by my lovely coworker, Cheyenne:
It was the dragon tattoo that fascinated her. It took up the nearly the entire length of his arm, the lower half of the dragon ending at his wrist, and the top half crawling up his bicep. When he moved, the dragon seemed to come alive, like it was going to eat her.
She'd stopped believing that the dragon was alive, of course, but couldn't help but stare at the tattoo each time it glared up at her. Mike's arms flexed as shoved the new oven in place. He turned to her. Sweat glistened off of his forehead. He yanked on the tailend of his shirt, using it to mop up the sweat, revealing more ink on his abdomen. Mike had more tattoos than blank skin. "What do you think, darling?"
"Mom will love it," Lennie said. Especially today. She glanced at the clock. Mom's court appointment was at four, and it was just now quarter til five.
Mike followed her line of sight. He bent - quite a motion for his 6'4" length to reach her measly one of 5'5" - and planted a kiss on her forehead. "It'll be all right."
Yeah, cause it was every day you sent your mom to court to tell your dad you didn't want to see him anymore. Lennie could have done it a year ago, when she turned fourteen. But she'd waited, too scared to do it then.
Lennie's dad was straight laced, suit and tie. No alcohol. No tattoos. Clean cut. Responsible.
He'd had left them when Lennie was ten. For years, they were fine. Then her mom met Mike. Tattted up, huge, works-in-a-garage, drinks-a-beer-nearly-every-night Mike.
Mike who never left. Mike who taught Lennie how to climb a tree and drove her to her first dance and who stood outside the bathroom door when she'd locked herself in, sobbing, because she got her first period while mom was away on a trip.
This big, burly, beast of a man had plowed right into their lives. No more quiet nights with mom. No more calm dinners and girl time.
No more strife and loneliness.
Lennie's dad never called, except to yell at her mom. Mandatory weekends with him were a nightmare. It was Mike who had bought her cell phone when she was twelve, just so she could text him and her mom while she was there.
Lennie loved Mike to pieces. She smiled up at him now, excited about the new stove he had bought Mom as a present, and so nervous about what the judge would say she nearly vomited in her mouth.
Her half brother Dexter tore through the kitchen, their labradoodle, Pippin, behind him. Dexter clung to Mike's leg. His Thomas the Train t-shirt was stained with grape juice. And from the waist down, he was naked.
Dexter shoved a chubby toddler arm out at the dog. "Pippy, no!" Peanut butter clung to Dexter's face, leftover from his sandwiches at lunch. Lennie giggled when Pippin bent her head to lick it off.
She grabbed a towel and put it under the sink, then used it to wipe Dexter's face. He smooshed his face to hers, leftover clods of peanut butter sticking to her face as he kissed her.
A clatter sounded beside her, and Lennie spun. Mom barreled through the door, her blouse untucked. Mascara trails ran down her face. Mom had been crying, which could mean one of two things...
"We're good," Mom said, a smile swallowing up her face. Mike howled and lifted mom, all four-foot-two-inches of her, off the ground. The noise excited Pippin, who lunged at Dexter's peanut buttered face, tackling Lennie to the ground. Dear heavens. Her house was like a carnival.
Lennie smiled. It was the calmest, most stable place she'd ever know.