I Returned the Damn Book

Rows of books in a library.

I’ve been accused of not returning a library book. This allegation is false and has caused irreparable psychological harm. I’d rather be caught running a red light doing 105 mph. I set them on the counter last weekend with my wife’s books. I even checked the car to make sure. I’ve been waiting to dispute the claim until I finish the book I’m currently reading, so every day I see the email the library sent and I feel ashamed. I went to sort it out today, but the library was closed due to inclement weather. It will probably be closed tomorrow, and it’s always closed on Sundays. A weekend of shame awaits.


Laura and I are getting a trial run at having a child. Our four-year-old niece Emily has been living with us for at least six months, with two more to go. (She’s another reason I’m glad everything fell apart for me when it did. Without leaving my job, she’d be in a much worse situation.)

Everything runs smoothly during the week. Coincidentally, when Laura is at work. After I run and shower, she goes to work. I hang out with Emily in the morning while reading and drinking iced coffee. Then I cut on Netflix for her and go to the office to write. She takes a nap after lunch, gets a snack, and watches more TV or plays in her room. Not much variety, but whenever she gets ungrateful I remind her she’d be on the streets without me.

Everything falls apart when Laura works from home on Fridays. I’m successful with Emily because I’m as much of a child as she is. If she talks back to me, I’ll mock her. If she bothers me, I’ll bother her. If she gets up to play while taking a nap, I’ll listen at her door, waiting to ambush her next time she gets up. I’ve been acting childish for 27 years. She can’t keep up. I can be louder than her, more annoying than her. If she throws a fit, I’ll roll around and throw a fit. Kids aren’t ready for that shit. They don’t like it. It puts them in a role they’re not ready to play.

Laura is all about reasoning and consequences. She’ll take a knee and talk to her face to face. I don’t have time for that (although I’m unemployed). I really don’t have the patience. The other day I threatened to hold Emily in the corner of the ceiling with the spiders. I can’t do that when Laura’s home.

During her nap today, she got up three times to play with a dog toy she picked out yesterday. If Laura wasn’t home I would’ve taken it out of her room or put it in the closet. Instead, I put it back on the shelf and calmly reminded her nap time is for sleeping. After the third time I said fuck it and told her she could get up. I walked through the house a few minutes ago and she looked at me like “Do something. Try me.” The little shit knows I’m powerless. She’ll do something wrong, something she knows she isn’t supposed to do, and when I catch her she’ll wave and say “Hi.”

We have three nephews. The oldest is a budding serial killer. The youngest looks like he suffers from Benjamin Button disease. Not progeria or accelerated aging. This kid is aging in reverse. Our other nephew likes cursing under his breath.

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