When Dad got home from the conservatory that night, he was in a bad mood. He didn’t even complain about not being able to play piano after eight. He just went in the kitchen and wearily stared into the fridge.
“Want me to order a pizza?” I asked.
After a pause, he said, “Sure.” Then he went out onto the balcony and lit a joint, sliding the door mostly shut. I placed an online order with Pizza Hut and then pretended to read a book as my mind and stomach flopped around.
I got up and pressed my face to the crack in the sliding door. “Dad?”
“Tyler, hang on a minute,” he said. I backed away, and he stubbed his roach out and came inside. “What?”
“Do you still have that old laptop?”
“It’s somewhere around here. Top of the closet maybe. Why?” He turned toward the record player and grabbed a Beatles album seemingly at random. I sat down as “Strawberry Fields Forever” filled the room. Dad only played the Beatles when he was feeling particularly awful.
“Is something wrong?” I asked.
He joined me on the futon that doubled as our couch and his bed, picking at his cuticles.
“Well, I lost my job,” he said. An instant void of anxiety overwhelmed me from stomach to throat. My heart began pounding as if trying to expand to fill the space.
Dad was still talking. “... want you to worry. I already called Amelia, and she said I could play piano three nights a week at the bar. So that will help.”
I nodded, trying to calm myself down.
“We’ve already paid rent this month, so we’ll be ok. I’ll find something else. We can sell some stuff, like the old laptop—unless you need it for school or something?” A knock came at the door. I had totally forgotten about the pizza. Dad got up to answer it, taking a few ones from his pocket to tip the driver.
Adrien Kade Sdao earned their MFA in Creative Writing (Writing for Young People) from Antioch University Los Angeles, where they now teach through the Continuing Education program inspiration2publication. They are a reader and guest editor for Voyage, a young adult literary journal. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Drunk Monkeys, K’in, Lunch Ticket, Fterota Logia, and more. They live in North Hollywood with their cat, Shelly. Find out more at aksdao.com. Adrien recommends the NoHo Home Alliance.