We are driving home from some place local. It is night. My father is driving, my mother in the passenger seat. I am in the back seat with both younger sisters. The parents are arguing. Us in the back seat aren’t saying anything, looking out the windows on either side, thinking hard of other things. I’m in high school. I am used to my parents fighting, though it still scares me and I always wish for it to stop. I am used to this tension, this rising rising tension that my mother never seems to feel because she always keeps going, sawing away at my father who turns rigid. He answers with two or three words at a time, trying to get her to stop. It’s as if he is telling her to stop and she doesn’t hear or doesn’t care. Doesn’t she hear? I know that if I were talking to him right now I would know to stop, but my mother keeps going.
“That’s enough,” my father says in his Hungarian accent that I have heard all my life. He has stopped the car. In the dark. On a hill that slopes downward. It’s one of the many roads near our house, familiar. “I will walk home from here,” my father says. And he gets out of the car and slams the door.
My mother doesn’t say anything. She has stopped talking. She gets into the driver’s seat and we drive the four minutes home in silence.
It’s embarrassing. I want to pretend nothing has happened. This is the place that is comfortable to me. Pretending nothing has happened.
“Good night, Mum,” I say as we get out of the car, doors slamming. “Thanks for taking us to the movie.”
I thank my mother a lot. After every meal, whenever she takes me somewhere.
I walk up the two flights of stairs to my room at the top of the house. My sisters and my mother sleep one floor below me. My father sleeps on the ground floor. They are far far away.