Habit, or Tick (short story)

I had developed a bad habit. Or maybe it was more of a tick, I’m not entirely sure. I tried to ask my dad the difference but he told me to go back to sleep. In his defense it was late. It was also a school night but that distinction means very little to me anymore. At one point it meant that I needed, at the very least, eight hours of sleep to function the next day. Now I know that was not the truth. Coffee has awoken that truth to me. It has a weird tendency to do so. My father devours the stuff, even with dinner. Gross. I, now, love java but mostly need carbonation with dinner, or any meal actually. It was one of my things, you know? Like only using eight ice cubes in my drink. What a pain that was at restaurants with crushed ice. There was no way to anticipate the temperature of your beverage in those situations. It is a shame. I’m not horribly fond of the unpredictable nature of anything. I want to know. I used to say that I have to know but my father was quick to distinguish the difference to me. It took some time for me to understand but I got there. I have to have oxygen to survive. I want to watch Jeopardy promptly each evening. Even if Trebek is a substandard host to me. My mom finds him to be handsome. Our television does a great job because we do this split screen thing so I can watch baseball AND Jeopardy at the same time. Volume stays on Jeopardy though or else we would not hear the answers. On average I answer somewhere between 67% to 71% of questions correctly. Mom says I should take their yearly audition quiz but I worry I’d get pummeled. Maybe one day. That is the nice thing, it should be around for awhile! My dad gets mad sometimes when I yell answers at the TV or get frustrated by the baseball game. I’ve knocked my dinner off the TV tray before, that really upset him. We always record Jeopardy, just in case, though I have only missed three in two years, I swear. To watch the recorded copies would probably be nice because you can fast forward through the many commercials. Sometimes we watch old episodes that I have on tapes. Like one time mom got me a tape from a garage sale and I was thrilled because Peter Sagal was a contestant. Now he hosts NPR’s quiz show “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” which coincidentally I never miss also. This is not irony, as some people may mistake, just simply coincidence. It is a common misconception sadly. I enjoy the commercials on the older tapes, it is like being in a time machine. The bad part is when you see a commercial for a product that is really entrancing but the product is no longer made. This has happened to me a few times. But skipping the commercials has its upside. I also like to use the restroom in this time. It is a race! I have to finish up before they return from the break. I wash my hands, thoroughly, with the warmest water possible. My hands always turn red like a beet. They shake. My skin started to crack after I began this. The skin is like a poorly built structure, like some of the old homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. He was a very interesting guy, very meticulous but also kind of careless. I think I may be this way as well. I read a biography about him recently. His second wife died at their home after some disgruntled workers axed them and set the home ablaze. He was not home however. He was salvaged. So I wash my hands to recover from the negativities (and germs.) As he recovered and many others like Bobby Kennedy after President Kennedy was assassinated. “Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which we live.” I recite as I wash. William Appleman Williams said this, Bobby liked this quote. I like this quote. If only his life had not turned even more so tragic. So I wash. But my skin is dry and mom tried to get me to use lotion but I hate lotion. It is gooey and lingers. My dad made me go to the doctor after a while. The best part about the doctor is the magazines in the waiting room. I try to find the oldest ones because you read old news but it is worded to be so current. It wasn’t horrible. They gave me these gloves. I think that they (parents, doctors) think that I do not know that there is lotion within them. I know. I know there is and I still hate it. But it does not really feel like it. There is no stinky lingering. So I wear them. Most of the time I cut the finger tips off and play the counter tops as if I’m Glen Gould on a steinway. I play for my fish Freckles, he is my biggest fan, even though he is only a beta. We got him at the store. There were some others placed in front of him but we made eye contact. We connected. He is the Molly Ringwald to my John Hughes! I feed him four pellets twice a day. Mom says that is “practically what survive on.” She gets upset, or used to at least, because all I want to eat are frozen dinners and peanut butter and butter sandwiches. I have expanded a little though as of late, now I will eat rice. I love rice. It is hard to hold the fork though because my hands almost always hurt. But I can’t stop. My dad says it’ll pass like the other ones have. He must not pay close attention because I still have all of them. Then some times they get worse.



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