The Monster Down the Hall
My father gave me a talk about how I shouldn’t write bad things about people in my diary.
Illustration by Audrey Weber
Chicken à la King. That is what we had for dinner the weekend I moved in with my father and his new wife, Jeanette, for good. It was August of 1998 and I had just been informed that I would not be living with my mother anymore. My father took me on a drive around the perimeter of Roxboro Middle School that Saturday afternoon. “This is going to be your new school,” he told me as I peered out the window.
My father had just gotten a new position as a correctional officer with the city of Cleveland and things would be different. Things had been difficult since the divorce. My mother and I moved around a lot. We got evicted a few times, shared a mattress on the floor of a spare room in a distant aunt’s house, and finally landed somewhat on our feet in the form of a one-bedroom apartment in Euclid, a suburb of Cleveland. My mother got the bedroom; I slept on the pull-out couch in the living room. My father and Jeanette were buying a house.
“How does having your ver…