national anthology of the best undergraduate writing 2014

Playing House

Lauren Parker  • 
University of Houston

The screaming makes her break a dish
a white ceramic plate with black scuffmarks
from a decade of rib eyes, chicken breasts marinated in Italian dressing
asparagus in yogurt sauce and reheated meatloaf.
She leaves the pieces in the beige sudsy water
throwing open the glass sliding door and scanning the yard.
The neighbor boy’s tiny fists are dancing on her daughter’s cheekbones
they don’t see her until she picks the boy up by his hair
her daughter looks up in confusion at the boy’s rigid body
his fists clamped on top of her mother’s hands
water running from her wrists to his roots.
Mommy, you’re not supposed to fight back.