“Hand over a nickel, young lady,” Mr. Catrine said, his eyebrows that of a vexed crow.
“But… But…” Emily said with a pout.
“You know the rules,” her father said, his statuesque body looming above her.
Emily went into her bedroom, pulled a nickel from her piggy bank, then returned and handed it to her father’s “business partner.” Mr. Catrine rubbed it between his thumb and forefinger, smirking at her. She scrunched her nose, but neither the overweight nickel thief or her father’s statue acknowledged her response.
Her father nodded and left the living room. Mr. Catrine chuckled, pocketed the coin, then followed him. She listened to their footsteps descending into the basement, then turned to her older brother, Benny, who was reading on the couch.
“I don’t understand…”
“Oh, Em, you need to try,” Benny said, lowering the book to glance at her.
“But, in all the fairy tales I read, the characters meet a bad fate by lying.”
Her brother nodded. “They are fairy tale characters. That’s what they do. And we’re the kids of a politician. It’s our job to make believe.”
“So I have to pretend Mr. Catrine is a good man.”
“That makes no sense at all!”
“The thing about life is… Or life as dad lives it… You get ahead on making the wrong people happy. You lose your head when you don’t make the wrong people happy. You get it?”
“I guess I’ll be dead before I’m eight then,” she said, crawling into her princess tent to hide from the truth for a while.