This story was inspired by a writing prompt on The Weekly Knob. I’m just not confident enough in my writing yet to submit it. It was a nice exercise though.
“Hand me that coffee mug”.
It’s not that he’s a bad man as such, but a variation of those five words is all my dad had time to share with me each morning.
“Hand me that coffee mug”, he repeated.
I was standing in front of a fridge that had seen better days, staring at the glowing report card I had received from my school. It was about as good as it gets. My mum, full of praise as always put it pride of place in the kitchen. My dad was yet to acknowledge my achievement. Or any achievement of mine at all for that matter.
As I reached for his mug (and without my brain having any say in the matter) my hand took a quick detour to the salt shaker, quickly flicking a few grains over his drink. As I crossed the kitchen I swirled the liquid and set the mug down on the table in front of him.
An arm arced around the side of his newspaper, searching idly for the coffee. Finding it, my dad brought the salty cup to his lips and slurped a large mouthful. He sloshed it around his mouth as he always does before swallowing loudly…
Then he simply got up, snatched his coat from the rack, and left for work.
I hadn’t planned to do it. Honestly. It just so happens that the opportunity presented itself this morning. And I took it without hesitation. That was all I needed, though and a wicked plan formed clearly in my mind. I wondered, what would the revelation of my existence taste like to dad?
Salty? It didn’t appear so. But what about muddy? Or soapy?
Dad doesn’t have a favourite coffee mug. As long as it’s hot and strong he’ll drink out of anything (which gives me another idea, but perhaps we’ll get to that later), making preparing too far in advance difficult.
The next morning I casually placed myself near the sink. As mum prepared the morning coffee I kept her distracted with questions about what I want to do after school. I asked If I can have a friend to stay? Or if I can eat my dinner in front of the TV tonight? Or was I allowed to stay up late to finish a level I was stuck on but so close to finishing on the computer?
She put two mugs on the counter top and left the room, still trying to remember and answer all my questions as she disappeared from view. She didn’t ignore me completely, but she didn’t have time for all my questions. She never seems to stop in the mornings.
The plan was going perfectly. Only… which mug would she give to dad?
I paused for a second to consider. As always he was absorbed in his newspaper but I had no idea how long mum would be out of the room for. I needed to act quickly.
I silently picked up the washing up liquid and gave a small squirt into both mugs. They were dark coloured and without looking closely you would never notice my soapy addition.
A few minutes later the coffee had been poured and a steaming mug placed in front of my dad.
Before mum could take a sip of hers I started at her again. Rolling off a story about needing to get to school early and that we were going to be late. With me practically tugging at her hand she put her coffee down without taking even a sip to pick up her coat and bag.
Dad, on the other hand, grabbed his mug and again took a nice big mouth full. This time, after swishing it around his mouth he paused. Smacking his lips three times in quick succession. Smack-smack-smack.
Without looking up he simply asked “Love? Is this a different brand of coffee? I don’t much care for it. Don’t buy it again”. And that’s the last thing he said to us before we left the house.
I was amazed. What else could I get away with putting in this man’s coffee?! I need to be careful, though. I don’t want him to actually notice something wrong with his drink. Or at least notice something that I could have placed there. A soapy mug, well, that could just be down to poor rinsing when washing up. I can’t be blamed for that!
The next few days I left him a different surprise in his coffee every day.
One morning I went to the bathroom and peed all over my hands. I didn’t wash them right away. Instead I went to the kitchen and sat at the table near my dad. When his morning coffee was delivered to the table, without hesitation I dipped my pissy finger right in there and gave it a good swirl.
The next day I flaked the mud and whatever else might be brown hard off the bottom of my trainers and cupped it in my hand until, as always I was left with the opportunity to ambush my dads coffee before he got to it. I crumbled tiny flakes of muck in there, sat back, and revelled in the fact this self absorbed idiot was paying so little attention to his family each morning.
My latest was as simple as it was brilliant. I spat in it. Old-school, I know.
I was starting to run out of ideas though, and getting a little annoyed. I’ve had a good run but this morning was coming up short.
“Hand me that coffee mug”, he said to me.
Damn, I’m out of time!
Then as I turned to grab it from the counter, from the corner of my eye I noticed the bottle of bleach mum had out to clean the sink.
And just like earlier in the week, without my brain being allowed a say in the matter my hand began to take a detour.
“Hand me that coffee mug”, he repeated.