They got to the apartment complex and Brekkyn burst into the living room for no discernible reason other than to scare her mother. The woman was sitting on the couch, the television off, reading a book that she slipped by her leg when the girls walked by. Tanissa thought it was a Bible.
“Girls,” she said, looking like a kid in Time Out.
“Hey,” Tanissa said, but her daughter said nothing.
Brekkyn immediately suggested (was it a suggestion?) they finish their Monopoly game. It was too cool in that room, the air conditioner blowing as though trying to keep meat from spoiling. Iggy Azalea played from the girl’s iPod speakers, and Tanissa longed to be out of the room and back with her dad, who could be home by now, if he managed to sneak out early.
Brekkyn landed on one of the properties Tanissa owned, and her breath caught in her throat for a moment as she anticipated . . . what? A tantrum? Retribution? Monopoly was a very hard game to cheat in, and that made it a challenge to intentionally lose. The best she could manage was to pretend the Chance cards she drew were all bad and hope the dice were against her.
Nearly an hour into the game, there came a soft knock on the door.
“Yes?” Brekkyn called out.
Her mother opened the door halfway, not coming inside. “Tanissa honey, your daddy’s here for you.”
Ahh, saved by the bell.
She stood up so fast she thought she might stumble, and moved toward the door. Mrs. Conlee met her eyes for the briefest second, then she took a step back to let her guest go through.
“Thanks for the game,” she called back to Brekkyn.
“No, she’s very sweet,” the woman said, patting Tanissa on the back with her bony hand. Then she stopped and watched them head out the door.
“Thanks,” Tanissa said to the poor woman, and their eyes met one last time before she went down the hall.