The Final Angel

“Mango Meltdown or Berry Blast?”

Ty Hauck scanned the shelves of the Exxon station’s refrigerated cooler.

“Whatever,” his thirteen-year-old daughter, Jessie, responded with a shrug, her eyes alighting on something more appealing. “What about this?”

Powie Zowie.

Hauck reached inside and read the brightly colored label. Megajolt of caffeine. Highest bang for the buck.

“Your mother let you drink this stuff?” he asked skeptically.

Jessie looked back at him. “Mom’s not exactly here, is she?”

“No.” Hauck nodded, meeting her gaze. “I guess she’s not.”

In just the past year, forbidding new curves had sprung up on his daughter’s once childlike body. Bra straps peeking out from under her tank top. Jeans clinging to the hips in an unnatural way. Gangly suddenly morphing into something a bit more in the range of troubling. Not to mention the newly mastered repertoire of eye rolls, shrugs, and exaggerated sighs. Hauck wondered if the request for an ankle tattoo or a belly piercing could be far behind. “You don’t get to win,” a friend who had teenage daughters once warned him. “You only delay.”

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