We cross the Golden Gate Bridge that is red not golden, because that’s the color they painted it, because Golden Gate refers to the mouth of the bay where the grass on the cliffs is golden most of the year, because the grass is dead, because there’s only rain in the winter, because that’s how the weather works here, because god. We’re going to my grandparents’ house because that’s where I can stay now, because my dad has to go away, because that’s a thing adults have to do sometimes. First, we have a quick stop at Marjorie’s house—it doesn’t matter who Marjorie is because that’s nobody’s business—Marjorie’s house is pink because she painted it that way and has a metal fence that’s bent in places because who cares, and a dog in the yard that barks at our car and at my dad when he gets out. I stay in the car because this is a quick stop because my dad will be right back. He takes a green backpack out of the trunk and goes up to the front door. A bald guy answers and starts yelling. My dad tries to push past him and yells, Marjorie, but the man starts pushing my dad back and back and back, and the dog is barking and a woman comes to the door and she’s yelling and everyone’s yelling and my dad throws the backpack toward the woman and runs to our car. The bald man runs after us as we pull away because he’s mental, because not everyone has sense, because they don’t. They just fucking don’t. We pull up to my grandparents’ house and I run up to my grandma when she opens the front door. My grandpa comes out from the garage and asks what’s the deal with the luggage. My grandma takes me inside for cookies because they’re fresh baked and because grandpa and dad need to talk alone, except they’re yelling, because sometimes people forget they need to talk in a normal voice. I hear grandpa say you can’t just dump the boy and my dad say I need a fresh start. Then my grandma turns on some music real loud because she likes it that way, because it’s better for dancing, so we dance in the kitchen a moment and then we sit and talk, and I tell her about the Golden Gate. Then my dad comes in and pulls me up, saying, time to go. I don’t speak but he keeps saying, because because because. When we get in the car he hits the steering wheel real hard. I don’t say anything until we go back over the Golden Gate and I tell him the bridge isn’t red it’s really orange, that Grandma and I looked it up. The Golden Gate is called the Golden Gate not because of dead grass but because of a place in Turkey (which isn’t a food but a country) called the Golden Horn because sometimes people like to name stuff after other stuff they know, because people like familiar things, because home. My dad starts hitting the steering wheel again, saying, stop stop stop. Then he starts crying and then he says he’s sorry because he’s losing his shit, because he doesn’t know what else to do, because he needs a break and he can’t seem to get one, because that’s how it goes, because life isn’t fair.
I look out at the sky zooming past. There aren’t even clouds.
D.E. Hardy’s work has appeared in X-R-A-Y Magazine, Lost Balloon, Flashback Fiction, New World Writing, among others. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and will be anthologized in Best Small Fictions 2022 and Best Microfictions 2023. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and can be followed on twitter @dehardywriter and at www.dehardywriter.com.