"Why in the hell aren't you using the money for groceries?"
I wish I could remember exactly when this happened, it was after Germany and before New England, during a time period where I was legally forced to see you on the weekends, and for half of every holiday break. I believe by then we had already spent a summer going from one side of Puerto Rico to the other, unpacking and re-packing the week's worth of clothes into and out of the luggage that would get thrown in the back of a different car every Sunday. At this point, I hadn't told you that I couldn't do it anymore, seeing you on the weekends. I wasn't hiding in the bathtub upstairs with a hand-mirror angled towards the window when you would come to pick up the others, watching the truck pull out of the driveway as I sat in a cold porcelain 'human cereal bowl' full of fear...not yet.
When I would go with you, there were riots of violence beyond the accurate measure of a human's eye or intellect. Your barbarianisms would arise for an audience of civilian's with no experience witnessing an underage child square up to their "father" in self-defense, until that very moment. You thought taking me out to a restaurant to abuse me there would make it so that I would keep silent, so as to not draw attention and allow you to win the fight. As if you actually thought there would be a way I would let you win. One of the last times I went with you, was one of the worst days of my life (speaking of which, many of those you are responsible for, thank you so much for that). This was not new: you popping 'round at the end of the week, rarely fulfilling your paternal responsibilities by barely even making the weakest-possible dent into them, yet thinking giving the others and I a spending allowance at the cinema lobby or for a new outfit from an AFAB-centric store could somehow make things 'fine' between us.
You asked me where I wanted to spend my 'budget' (funny, because I almost never took you up on it, unlike them), and I said Walmart. You looked at me perplexed. "But, you always get your clothes there, let's go somewhere else!" "I don't need to look ugly, I need to be well-fed," I responded. Taken aback, his face soured. I knew where this was going, but if I remember correctly I had had a cup of tea before I was forced into the truck earlier that day...it wasn't going to bother me to have to speak up. It wouldn't take long before I would have to, anyways. "Why in the hell aren't you using the money for groceries when you see us? Why the fuck don't you ask us what our actual needs are? Why have you always been fine with an empty pantry?"
I can't remember much else from that day: silently doing the math (rounding numbers up to include taxes) in my head on the way to the store based on the Great Value prices that I remembered would usually stay put, the others awkwardly holding/wearing their new vanity spends as I scan the aisles for the cheapest toilet paper and soap, the discomfort and confusion I was met with when I returned to where I was being forced to stay with the wildest version of a $60 grocery haul you have ever seen in your life (I stretched the dollars and got the groceries to last a couple of weeks too, thank you very much).
I can't remember much else about you, besides these sorts of moments. I don't mind. I'm actually grateful that none of this is actively my problem anymore. As if you actually thought there would be a way I would let you win.