The driver of the red Corvette screeched to a stop in front of the restaurant and waited for the valet to open her car door. Justice admired how the street lights bounced off of her new sliver and white Hogan’s as she exited the car.

“I can’t believe you spent $400 on those sneakers,” CC complained.

“Why not? My feet deserve to be pampered. Some women like their heels, I like my sneakers.” She stuck her tongue out at her older brother as they entered the restaurant and were ushered immediately into a corner booth.

After the waitress took their drink orders, Justice took CC’s hand. “How have you been?”

“I’m just taking it day by day. I worry about the kids a lot. They are so quiet these days. I don’t know if I can do this alone. I never wanted to do this alone.” He tapped his fingers against the solid oak table. He looked like our father. Brown skin, strong chin, full lips.

Here he was now, a single father, just like our father, WC.

“I don’t mean to bring you down. What’s going on with you? How’s school?” His dark eyes looked into hers intently. He always looked out for her. It was him that always gave her the love she needed. All she ever received from WC was the cold shoulder.

“Now that is a subject that really will bring me down. School is…depressing. I don’t know what I want to do anymore,” she tucked her hair behind her ear as she spoke. She picked up her wine glass and swirled the deep red liquid around before pressing the glass to her lips.

“What do you mean you don’t know what you want to do? I thought you were pre-law?”

“Why would I want to do that? Law is your thing. Law is WC’s thing. Law is not my thing. It’s boring!” She giggled.

“WC is going to get you.” CC finished his drink in one long swallow. There were dark shadows under his eyes. Justice had to wonder how much time he spent drinking when she should have been sleeping. If he wasn’t careful, he really would turn into their father.

“I know. I’m starting to feel bad about being so mixed up about everything. I want to take a break and figure things out before going back to school…” CC was the only person she could talk to about her career confusion.

“WC is not having that.”

“I know, but he may not have a choice. My grades are so bad… I just got kicked out of school,” she admitted, her light skin flushed with embarrassment.

“Jay… Really? You’re going to give the old man a heart attack!” CC grimaced.

“He’s going to give himself a heart attack. Don’t blame that shit on me.” She stood up and called the waiter’s name loudly. Her voice resonated across the crowded restaurant. “We need another round over here!”

“I always forget how loud you are. You are your mother’s child,” he chuckled. CC was a decade older than Justice. He often shared stores of their mother’s exuberant and carefree ways.

“That’s what they tell me,” she grinned, displaying a dimple in both cheeks. While CC was the epitome of their father, Justice was more like their mother. They looked and behaved so differently, someone unfamiliar with their family would question their relationship. Justice’s freckles and light skin came from their mother, Audrey. Justice often believed her father treated her with such disdain because she reminded him of her mother. She forced her father to relive times he couldn’t handle. When the drinks arrived, she passed her glass of wine to CC and started sipping her ice water.

“WC and Audrey were so different. I don’t know how they ever got together. I remember hearing them argue from my bedroom. WC used to always call Audrey flighty. I used to catch her crying a lot, but I think things started to get better when she found out she was pregnant with you. She started smiling more. Oddly enough, WC started smiling less. He wasn’t home very much back then.”

“See, he didn’t even like me when I was in the womb. That man has always had it out for me.”

“I don’t think he ever got over Audrey’s death.” He signaled to the waitress for another round of drinks.

“CC, don’t take his side. It’s been 27 years.”

“Until you’ve lost your wife, I don’t think you’ll be able to relate.”

“Lost my wife? That would give WC a heart attack!” They both collapsed into a fit of laughter.

When Song arrived at school the following morning, Principal Greene was waiting in her classroom behind her desk. That was never a good thing. Song reached deep within for a smile, reached for a loc, and started twirling it around her finger.

“What can I help you with, Principal Greene?” She stopped in front of her desk, nervously.

“There was a complaint from one of the parents about you.”

Her wrinkled hands were laced tightly together in her lap. Song sighed deeply. “Really?”

“Did you give any consideration to the suggestions I made to you last time we had one of our little meetings?” She brushed some invisible lint from her pinstriped suit.

“Did you give any thought to accepting my resignation?”

“Now, now, now… Let’s not go there again.” In their last meeting, Principal Green suggested she be more feminine as not to confuse the children with her androgynous look. In the seven years she’d been teaching there, they’d had that conversation at least a dozen times. It always ended with Song tendering her resignation, and Principal Greene refusing to accept it.

“Principal Greene, I adhere to the dress code defined by this school. Everything I am wearing is from the women’s department. These pants, these shoes. I am even wearing earrings. What more would you suggest I do?” Her voice was barely louder than a whisper. There was no anger in her tone or disrespect, but there was more than a little bit of exasperation. “And I must say, Principal Greene, this conversation is getting very old… And I must admit, it’s starting to feel a bit like harassment.”

Principal Green’s face was bright red, and her thin lips were pursed together tightly. “Let’s just pretend this conversation never happened then.” She stood up and left the room briskly, closing the door behind her.

Song had barely settled in her seat before there was a knock at her door, and Jennifer Oliver, the teacher that occupied the room next door, entered.

“Did you happen to see the news last night?” Jennifer settled one plump booty cheek on the corner of Song’s desk.

“I can’t say that I did.” Song got up to put her helmet in a cabinet in the back of the room.

“Court Crawford was killed in a terrible car crash last night.”

“Paris and London’s father? Oh, no! That’s frickin’ awful!” Song ran her hands through her hair. “Those poor kids! I want to do something for them…”

“Song, you are too much! We’re talking about the Crawfords, anything those kids need they will get. Their rich granddaddy will make sure of it.”

“I suppose. I want to be there for them.”

Jennifer rubbed my back before crossing the room to the door. “You’re sweet for that.”

Justice opened her eyes, slowly letting them adjust to the bright lights surrounding her. She rolled her tongue around in her mouth in an attempt to cure the dryness. Her entire body was sore. As soon as she tried sitting up, her head started pounding.

“Nurse!” WC left the room, quickly returning with a white-uniformed nurse in tow.

“Hey there, sleepyhead. You gave us all a scare there,” the nurse said.

“How long have I been out?” I asked as she started to check my vital signs.

“Almost a week…You had quite the bump on your head.”

“A week? WC, what happened?” Justice turned towards her father to clear up the fuzziness in her mind. She remembered getting in the car with CC and then nothing after that. He didn’t answer until after the nurse left the room.

“You were driving drunk and had an accident.”

“I don’t think so. I was not driving drunk. I had one glass of wine.” After the first glass of wine, I drank water for the rest of the night. CC was wholly wasted, and for once, I wanted to be responsible. I wanted to be able to drive us both safely home. I had the nagging feeling something had gone wrong.

“That’s not what the breathalyzer test said.”

Even taking a deep breath hurt. “Fuck that. I had one glass of wine…And some cough medicine before I left the house. That was it.”

“You’d use that language in front of your own father? You are so lucky to have me in your life. They have charged you with second degree homicide by vehicle. You killed someone and got a misdemeanor. On top of that, all you have to do is 150 hours of community service.”

“WC. I’m so confused. What are you talking about? I killed someone?”

“You are so irresponsible. To drive in that condition and not even admit to it now. You haven’t even asked about your brother. How did I raise such a selfish child?”

“CC…What happened to CC?”

“He’s dead. You killed him just like you killed your mother.”