“Jesus Christ, Sarah. Look at what she’s wearing,” Dad grumbled.
Everyone turned their heads to see Evelyn walking down the stairs, wearing what she almost always does - ripped jeans and an expensive blouse. I didn’t really see what his issue was. Maybe it was the fact that Evelyn had curled the ends of her hair? I have no clue.
Evelyn seemed just as confused as everyone else. “What is it?” she asked.
“You look horrid,” Dad said, his voice loud and clear. Evelyn looked down at herself, and she met Dad’s eyes with a look of confusion. Dad slammed his hand on the table, causing Emmanuel and Mom to snap up. “Sarah, look at her.”
Mom pushed her sausage to the side. “I think she looks fine, honey,” she whispered, looking down at her food.
“Of course you can’t see it,” Dad said, sounding annoyed. He must have woken up on the wrong side of the bed or something. Typically, he just ate breakfast, ignored a kiss from Mom, hugged me, and then went to work. Today...it was different. “Her...her thighs. Evelyn Taylore, what have you been eating?”
I shoved a large bite of eggs into my mouth.
Evelyn sat down next to Emmanuel, covering her legs with a napkin. “What I always eat, Daddy. Nothing has changed.”
“Stop eating things after your games,” Dad instructed.
I looked up to see my sister nod her head slowly. She was watching as her hair almost touched her silverware. “Yes, sir.”
Dad turned his head to Mom, a line of orange juice going down his shirt. Emmanuel looked over to Evelyn, who was playing with her food. “I can’t believe she looks so big,” Dad said, loud enough for everyone outside of our home to probably hear. Why is he saying these things about her? “Maybe she should start skipping breakfast.”
Mom looked at him, surprised. “Honey-”
“She’s getting too fat,” Dad expressed. Eric cleared his throat like he was trying to remind Dad we could all hear him, but it didn’t make any difference. I looked at Evelyn, who was messing with the necklace around her neck. She didn’t even look up from her plate. “No man is going to want that if she can’t pull it together. She’s losing the gap between her legs, and I swear in a few months, that child is going to have a double chin.”
I looked over to Mom, thinking she would stick up to him, but she shook her head. “I-there is nothing wrong with the way Evelyn looks-”
“Yes, there is,” Dad argued. He scrunched up his nose, looking at Evelyn. “You need to start taking trips to the gym after school, do you understand me, Evelyn?”
With her head still down, Evelyn nodded. “Yes, sir.”
I turned my head away, looking at my phone. Both Haven and Evvie had texted me, asking where I was, but I didn’t have the time to respond to them. I could do it while Eric drove. Just before I believed we were done body-shaming Evelyn, Dad started up the conversation again.
“I don’t know if playing on the sports team next year is good for you, sweetheart,” he said.
Evelyn slammed down her silverware. “What?”
Emmanuel looked at me, his eyes wide. I shook my head, letting him know that saying something would only make everything worse.
“It’s changing your body to become undesirable,” Dad continued. Evelyn huffed, giving Dad her death glare. “And we can’t have that, Evelyn. You’re the only girl in this house, and you know how protective mothers can be about their children.”
Evelyn, who was clearly pissed off, laughed. “Okay, Dad, when exactly am I having a child? And why do you get to dictate what I look like? Just so you know, Ad-I am fine, and I’m not gonna change it for you. Also, I’m not getting married until I’m twenty-six, so stop making such a big freaking deal about me looking ‘undesirable.’”
Dad stabbed his fork into the plate, causing Eric to hold back laughter. I looked at my phone as another message popped up from Evvie. “Put your phone on the table, Taylore,” he said. Evelyn did just what he asked, slamming her phone down next to Emmanuel, whose eyes were popping out of his head. “You need to stop giving me attitude, young lady. Unless you want to experience nothing on whenever you decide to go to college.”
“Aw,” Evelyn said, her voice thick with anger. “You’re going to allow me to go to college? Thank you so much, Dad.”
I turned my head away from Evelyn, watching as Dad shook his head, his hands in tight fists and his neck red. Evelyn typically never snapped back at him (the last time it had been in front of me, Evelyn was twelve, and it was when we had to have a conversation about “respecting her privacy,” which Dad didn’t agree on). Emmanuel, on the other hand, wouldn’t remember that, and I’m sure he was expecting all of us to be grounded in a matter of seconds.
“Honey, just sit back down,” Mom said. She sounded absolutely helpless, her eyes going from Evelyn to her husband. Is the decision really that hard for her? I thought. Dad crossed his arms over his chest, the veins in his neck sticking out. “We can work this out, okay? This doesn’t need to be done now-”
“Shut your ⟴ mouth, Sarah,” Dad snapped at her.
Mom did exactly what was asked of her, sitting down slowly. I wanted to be angry with her. I wanted her to realize how much Evelyn needed a mother sometimes, and how many times in life she was going to let down her children. But, I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was more to things than what I could see.
“Evelyn,” Dad began again. He wasn’t raising his voice, and I’m sure the only reason for that was because of Emmanuel sitting at the table. “We need to make some changes to you, alright? Just-do what you’re told and we won’t have an issue, alright?”
My little sister nodded. I looked over to Dad, knowing my face was showing complete disgust. “Does this seriously have to be the entire conversation for breakfast? Evelyn doesn’t need to change anything about herself if she doesn’t want to, and I-you can’t treat her like that.”
Dad shrugged, his eyes piercing into my heart. “I can set whatever rules I wish, Ezra,” he told me. “And, just so you know, son, I can make your life a ⟴ nightmare, if that’s what you wish for.”
He never talks to me like that. “I-”
“All of you get ready to leave the house,” Dad interrupted. “Evelyn Taylore, find something to cover that body no one needs to see. And put on more makeup. Sarah, something needs to happen to her face soon.”
Eric slammed his hand onto the table. “She doesn’t need plastic surgery!” he roared. “She’s fifteen! Leave. Her. Alone.”
I pushed my chair back, quickly making my way to Evelyn, who was trying to hide the fact that she was crying. It didn’t matter how tough my sister places herself as I can never stop feeling this need to protect her. She pulled her sleeves up to her face, leaning into me as I wrapped my arms around her from behind.
How could one person be the anchor dragging us all under the sea? I could feel Evelyn's heart drowning with thoughts I never wanted her to believe.
And the worst part is, the anchor is never going to get lighter.
My mother, who was staring at me, started to speak in a firm tone. “Eric, listen to your father. You know who runs things around here.”ns22.214.171.124da2