''It's good to see you, too, Dad.'' How strange it felt to use that moniker. At home in Phoenix, I called him Jim and my mom called him Dad.
''You've grown so big I didn't recognize you without the umbilical cord, I suppose.''
Had it really been that long? Had I really not seen my dad since I was thirteen and going through my pet umbilical cord phase? I realized we had a lot of catching up to do.
I hadn't brought all of my clothes from Phoenix, so I only had twelve bags. My dad and I took them in shifts to his Viper.
''Before you start making jabs about me being divorced, middle-aged, and going through a midlife crisis,'' he said as we put on our seat belts, ankle straps, and helmets, ''allow me to explain that I need a very aerodynamic car as a window-wiper. My customers are judgmental people if I don't drag race to those windows, they're going to question whether I'm the right kind of guy to hang off of their roofs. Push that button, hon it raises the giant snake head.''
I hoped he wasn't thinking of driving me to school in that car. Every other kid probably rode a donkey.
''I got you your own car,'' my dad said, after I counted down and said ''blast off!'' He started the car after turning the key in the ignition several times.
''What kind of car?'' My Dad really loved me, so I was pretty sure it was an airplane-car.
''A truck car. A U-HAUL, to be exact. I got it pretty cheap. Free, to be exact.''
''Where did you get it from?'' I asked, hoping he wouldn't say the dump.
Phew. ''Who sold it to you?''
''Don't worry about it. It's a gift.''
I couldn't believe it. A huge truck to store all of the bottle caps I've always wanted to start collecting.
I turned my attention to the window, which was reflecting a flushed, pleased expression. Beyond that the rain poured hard on the green town of Switchblade. The too green town. In Phoenix, the only green things are traffic lights and alien flesh. Here, nature was green.
The house was a two-story Tudor, cream with chocolate timbering, like a miniature éclair that makes you fat for days. It was almost completely blocked from view by my truck, which had a large graphic on the side of a lumberjack sawing a tree, with '' U-HAUL'' written above.
''The truck is beautiful.'' I breathed. I exhaled. Then I breathed again. ''Beautiful.''
''I'm glad you like it, because it's all yours.''
I looked at my huge, unwieldy truck and pictured it in the school parking lot surrounded by flashy sports cars. Then I pictured it eating those other cars. I could not stop smiling.
I knew my dad would insist on carrying my twelve bags into the house all by himself, so I ran ahead to my room. It looked familiar. Four walls and a ceiling, just like my old room in Phoenix! Leave it to my dad to find little ways to make me feel at home.
One nice thing about my dad is, as an old person, his hearing isn't too great. So when I closed the door to my room, unpacked, cried uncontrollably, slammed the door, and threw my clothes around my room in a fit of dejected rage, he didn't notice. It was a relief to let some of my steam out, but I wasn't ready to let all of it out yet. That would come later, when my dad was asleep and I was lying awake thinking about how ordinary kids my age are. If only one of them were extraordinary, then I'd be rid of this insomnia.
I picked at my breakfast the next morning. The only cereal dad had in his cupboard was fish flakes. After getting dressed, I looked in the mirror. Staring back was a sallowcheeked girl with long, dark hair, pale skin and dark eyes. Just kidding! That would be so scary. Staring back was me. I quickly combed my hair and picked up my backpack, sighing as I shimmied up the rope into my U-HAUL. I hoped there wouldn't be any vampires at this school.
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