Cherry: Chapter One

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"I hate you both!"

"We know, Cherry," Mom snickered from the front seat. "We're comfortable with that."

"It's not funny!"

Cherry tried texting Brad, but her stupid phone wouldn't respond.

"What the fuck, guys? I don't get any bars out here."

"Watch your language," Daddy said, without looking up from the road.

"Oh, don't be so hard on the girl." Mom turned around to pet Cherry's knee. "That's how eighteen-year-olds talk these days. Just go with the flow."

Cherry swung her legs up on the back seat, away from her mother's touch. Mom looked so hurt she almost apologized. Almost.

In truth, she wasn't mad at her mother. It was Daddy who said Brad couldn't come on their camping trip. She totally would have understood, if Daddy hadn't invited stupid Phil to come along, just because the guy was "going through a rough divorce."

So what? That was Phil's problem, not theirs. Couldn't the guy just buy a Camaro and hire a hooker like every other middle-aged man on the planet?

Her phone buzzed. One bar. Just one! But that was enough to let a text through, and it was a message from Brad:

If ur not back to see my band on Friday wer done.

"Mom!" Cherry passed her phone to the front seat. "We can't stay until Sunday. Brad's gonna divorce me if I'm not at that concert."

"He can't divorce you if you're not married," Daddy said. "Wait... you're not married, are you? Sometimes your mother neglects to tell me these things."

"Sometimes you neglect to listen," Mom shot back. "Cherry, if Brad's breaking up with you just for missing one gig, then... kiddo, I hate to tell you, but..."

"That boy's not good enough for my girl." Daddy loved to tell her that. He told her all the time.

"But it's important," Cherry said, snatching her phone back from Mom. "They're playing the Grand Re-Opening of The Moose. It's gonna be on the radio and everything! I have to be there."

"Honey, it's a three-hour drive back to town." Mom reached for her knee, and this time Cherry allowed it. She needed consoling. "We booked this trip six months in advance, and it's not like your father and I have an easy time coordinating our vacation days. We're staying until Sunday. Brad's just going to have to be understanding."

Understanding? Not Brad's strong suit.

"But he's gonna break up with me. He really will this time."

"Well," Daddy said. "Maybe it's for the best. When you start school in September, do you really think that good-for-nothing's going to dote on you?"

"Yes."

"What about when you need to study for a chemistry exam and he wants you to chill with the band?"

"I'm not taking chemistry," Cherry said, trying not to laugh. "And don't try to be cool, Daddy. It's just not you."

"What? I'm a cool guy." He plucked a cassette tape from the dash. "See? Got rid of all my old eight-tracks."

"You're so lame," she said, but chuckled. "What's an eight-track?"

* * * *

Rightfully, the woodland cabins belonged to the Parks Authority, but every time the family pulled up to them Cherry felt like she was coming home. On one hand she wanted her phone to work and she wanted to fuck her boyfriend, but on the other hand... well, she wanted it to be the past again. In the woods, she felt like a little kid. Nobody to impress, just her, her parents and the nosy raccoons.

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