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Daddy Next Door

Roxy hated California. The fact that her grandmother’s suburban neighborhood was beautiful, with lemon trees in the yards and bougainvillea lazily flowing over everthing, and the days were sunny and clear, only seemed to make her exile worse. Had her mom and her asshole stepfather packed her off to Siberia, which Roxy imagined as a rocky wasteland in a permanent state of blizzard, at least her surroundings would have mirrored back her own feelings to her.

In the beginning, she tried to get a part-time job doing what she’d done back in Louisiana: working as a checkout girl at the Winn-Dixie, so she could earn a little pocket money to go out and meet people her age, or maybe trek into San Francisco on the high-speed rail that screeched through the far-off downtowns of Oakland and Alameda. But after a few frustrating rounds of trudging to every grocery store and gas station within walking distance, where people gawked at her brightly colored clothes and rolled their eyes at her accent, she’d had to give up on the idea. “The economy here isn’t good,” Grandma said over dinner when Roxy complained about it. “All the tech workers who get laid off take over all the cashier and retail jobs first, and folks like us get whatever pickings are left.”

Roxy’s parents had sent her to live with her grandma, even in the sinful wilds of California, because Roxy’s grandmother was very religious and her folks had assumed that Grandma would whip some proper behavior into their wayward slut of a daughter. But Roxy’s grandmother wasn’t the sort; she was often out with a church group serving meals at homeless shelters or reading the Bible alone at night, and she didn’t press Roxy to come with her, or shame Roxy for what she had done back in Louisiana.

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