“No way she can go to camp this year,” her dad said. “Not until I find work.”
“What about canceling the fishing trip with your brother?” asked her mom. “Or at least postponing it for now.”
“Christ, Shel. One weekend a year. One fucking weekend where I own my life. That’s all I ask anymore.”
Melanie watched the vein in her dad's forearm bulge as his fist squeezed atop the kitchen table. Grass tickled her calves.
“She’s been looking forward to it all spring. It will crush her not to go.”
“Great. I’m the ogre again,” her dad said. “Can’t do anything right.”
“I would do it in a heartbeat,” her mom mumbled a moment before throwing the garbage disposal switch. “And I’m the one who actually—”
The racket chewed up the rest.
“What’d you say?”
“Nothing,” her mom said, flicking the switch back off.
The long silence grounded Melanie’s insides like the banana under the blade. She picked a paint chip off the windowsill, and touched it with her tongue.
“All right, Shelly. All right.”
She saw her mom’s mouth pick up a smile before she moved to hug Melanie's dad. His fist slackened back into a hand, before falling to his side.
Melanie dragged her knuckles along the house’s wood siding, and ran for the field. She stumbled, snatching some wildflowers on the way back up. Her nose dipped into their velvety fragrance as a bee buzzed her ear.
Melanie smoothed her shorts. And then the hair.
Her shoulders pulled back an inch.
“Yes, Prince Phillip, I will do you the honor of becoming your wife,” she said, and curtseyed to the air. Her eyes spotted the floral archway and widened. “It’s perfect!”
She ducked under the blossoms and sighed.
“No, no. Mummy and Daddy will just have to understand, that’s all.” She put on her best approximation of an English accent. “It’s simply out of the question now.”
Melanie sank to her knees and started to twist the stems of a flower crown. She twisted, and twisted again. When she placed the crown upon her head, she forced her mouth to pick up a smile. A princess bride's smile.
“Camp is for babies,” she said, folding her hands demurely in her lap.
Her jaw tightened.