Chapter 3

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Dad went out early the next morning to buy some essentials from the twenty-four-hour grocery store up the hill. By the time I came downstairs, he and Mom were dunking gluten-free chocolate donuts into their coffee as they discussed going to see the restaurant.

"So, your father and I have been thinking about the name of the pizzeria," Mom said. "Dornzeria sounds like a pharmaceutical for allergies with a host of side effects."

Dad stuffed the last bits of donut into his mouth. "So, we were thinking... we might rename it Mazzeria, after our brilliant daughter."

I nearly spit out my coffee. "Are you serious? No way! If you do that, I'll emancipate myself."

Mom frowned. "But it's catchy. Your name goes so well with it. You have that Z in there!

"What if the restaurant folds?" I asked. "Then I'm stuck with my name on a failed business."

"You think we're going to fail?" Dad added a third donut to his plate. "We haven't even started and already you have us failing. You know what? I think you want us to. We really need to work through that vindictive streak of yours, honey. There are better ways to channel your anger. Becca, do you think we should get her a punching bag?"

"I don't... what?" Maybe not talking to them had been the right course of action. "Look, I just need you to think about this. You're good people. I've known you since I was a little baby."

"Thank you for noticing." Mom narrowed her eyes.

"You're a little snarky but I've learned to live with that. And no, I'm not saying the pizzeria is going to fail for sure. I'm just saying it's likely to. That's what businesses do. Besides, the people in town are used to its current name, and one of the reasons you chose to buy it is because you knew it already had customer loyalty. You don't want to lose any of that through a name change. Think about your branding! You'd have to spend more money redoing signs and menus."

"You have a point." Dad tapped his fingers against his coffee cup. "We'll take it under advisement."

"That's all I'm asking you to do." I wasn't overly hopeful they'd see my logic, but at least I'd spoken my truth. "By the way...did one of you turn my light off during the night? I fell asleep with it on and when I woke up this morning, it was off."

My mother looked to my father, who shrugged. Mom continued to squint at me. "Don't tell me you think a demon turned it off."

"Absolutely not! How irrational would I have to be to think that?" There was no point in telling them about last night. I wasn't going to be one of those people who tried to explain how much danger someone was in when that someone was a complete moron. They'd have to deal with the consequences of not taking me seriously when the priest was mopping up the exoplasmic goo. "I'm thinking maybe there's a short in its electrics or something. Is that possible?"

"Maybe," Dad cleared my plate. "Let us know if it happens again and I'll take a look."

"Will do." I would not be doing that. When I was nine, he'd electrocuted himself trying to wedge a broken piece of bagel out of the toaster with a metal knife. Keeping my dad away from anything involving circuitry was one of my biggest priorities.

I poured myself the dregs of coffee from the bottom of our French press and gulped it down while my parents scurried around me, trying to find their things amidst the half-unpacked mess that was our home.

"Honey," my father called from the study adjacent to the kitchen. "Is this yours?"

A white phone charger dangled from his hand.

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