Eric and his mother were fighting again. “You don’t understand!” he wailed.

She stared at him, breathing loudly through her nose, her nostrils white and pinched with anger. “No, you’re right, Eric. I don’t understand you. No one understands you, no one can understand you. But listen –“

“You’re not even–“

“Nobody understands anybody! You don’t understand me, I don’t understand your father, your teachers don’t understand.”

He yelled over her. “I don’t want to understand anybody else, I don’t want anybody to understand me, I just want to be left alone! Why can’t you just leave me alone?”

“Listen to me! You always do this, Eric, you won’t listen –“

“When? When do I do this? I always try to listen to you but you never listen to me unless we’re fighting!”

“Someday,” she began, then stopped herself, and turned on her heel. She slammed the door behind her and left him in the room. He stared sullenly at the door, knowing he had won but not victorious. Upstairs he could hear her opening and closing drawers, walking soft-footed through the kitchen. The floors between them seemed endless.