Below is a first draft of the prologue for a book I'm working on called Talk Like a Man, a story about a teenage girl who decides to take her father's advice about how to simplify life by changing the way she talks and interacts with others:
“I hate school.”
I adjusted my phone one more time, just to be sure only my face showed in the frame.
“Let me clarify that. I don’t necessarily hate school itself. I mean, my grades are decent: mostly A’s, nothing below a C. Stupid algebra. What was I saying? Oh, yeah, what I hate about school is the people. Students, faculty, I just can’t stand them. Everyone is two-faced. No one says a thing to your face, but the second you’re not around, they’re running their mouths about you. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of everyone! If you’re watching this, let me give you some advice: just keep to yourself and never trust anyone or you’ll end up with a knife in your back. That’s all I wanted to say today. I’m Trina Lee and you can take it from me. Later!”
I stopped recording just as the door opened. My father poked his head cautiously through the gap.
“Exactly what are you doing in my utility closet, o firstborn?” he asked, raising a brow in mock confusion. “If it’s drugs, all I’m gonna say is sharing is caring.” He grinned, and I forced a sarcastic chuckle. “Oh my God, Dad,” I said, “I’m just posting a video.” Dad smiled his trademark lopsided smile. “In the closet? And you didn’t lock the door? Dear Lord, child, have you no shame, no humility? I’d better not see you on a porn site. I’d never get that image out of my head.” He laughed even as he shuddered in horror. Dad always joked like that. No matter who you were, he would talk to you like you were just another guy. He never sugar-coated anything and firmly believed political correctness to be a waste of time. I punched his shoulder. “Dad,” I yelled, “that’s DISGUSTING! It was for my TikTok! Why are you so weird?” I punctuated each word of the question with another shoulder punch, which only made him laugh aloud. “Anyway,” he said, “your mother told me to let you know dinner’s done. Seriously, though, you have a bedroom for this kind of thing.” I glared at him in what I really hoped was a terrifying way and said, “You mean the one I still share with my sister? I’m 15, Dad. When am I gonna get my own room?” “When we can afford a bigger place. Really, girl, were you not listening the last hundred times I answered that question? Now, I’m off to go eat.”
Dinner at my house could be more accurately referred to as feeding time. We never actually sit down at one table and eat together as a family. Honestly, I don’t think anyone does that anymore. Dad eats at the computer, right where he can always be found playing some stupid game or working on his next make-money-without-getting-a-job plan. Okay, it sounds bad when I say it that way, but he’s not that kind of lazy. My Dad’s a disabled veteran. He messed up his back in the Army so now we live on his VA disability and SSDI, but it’s barely enough to get us from one month to the next, so he’s always trying to find some way to make more money. My mother is always OCD-level cleaning up after us, so she never gets to sit down until everyone is settling in for bedtime. My sister and I usually eat in our room and watch videos. Sometimes, I wish we all did more together, but whatever.
I grabbed my plate and headed to my room. “Food’s done,” I said, giving my sister, Lexi, a kick on the butt to get her attention. She didn’t even look up from the screen of the phone she was using, just sort of grunted and slid off her bed, making for the kitchen. I sat down on my bed, laughing out loud when I heard Dad in the kitchen asking Lexi, “Would you even notice if I super-glued your forehead to that phone? You do still realize it’s mine, right?”