Katherine placed the casserole on the table and sat down. "Dig in guys!" She smiled.

Jane looked warily at the dish, and exchanged wan glances with Doogie.

"Come on!" David admonished, "Eat up! It's good for you!"

Grudgingly Doogie passed his sister's plate over, then his to be filled with food. Their father piled food on Katherine's plate, then his own.

"Looks great, Mom." Doogie offered.

Jane rolled her eyes. Suck up. She picked at her food in silence.

"So," mom smiled at them both, but looked at Jane, "how was school today?"

Jane shrugged, and swallowed her mouthful of casserole. "Fine."

"Just fine?" David questioned.

Jane resisted the urge to sigh in frustration. Of course fine isn't good enough for you.

"What, you want a better vocabulary word?" She asked, not realizing the words had left her mouth until it was too late. She gasped at her own lack of reticence and put a hand over her mouth, looking down at the floor in shame.

"What was that young lady?"

Jane was nearly squirming in her seat she was so uncomfortable.

"Dad," Doogie broke in, " she didn't mean it that way. You know how school is."

She wasn't sure if she was grateful for his defense of her, or if she just hated him more for it, the chasm between the two so often now seemed inescapable-but the chasm realized, only, to her.

He ignored him.

"No," he answered, "I've had it with her back talk, and her attitude lately. I've been trying to let it slide, but you can only let things go so far. Young woman, puberty or not-"

"Dad!" She screeched, horrified.

"School or not," he continued, "you will abide by the rules of this house- the same rules that you've abided by since you were a toddler- respect. The same rules that apply to your brother."

Yeah, she rolled her eyes discreetly, sure they do.

"At this table, and in this house you will speak with respect! You don't dare speak in such a tone to myself or to your mother!"

"We all work to put food on the table and put clothes on your back, and this is the thanks we get?"

"David," Katherine hissed, trying to soothe him.

Jane could feel his eyes on her.

"Aren't you ashamed!?"

He wanted her to say yes, she knew. Wanted her to be shamed and submissive. Jane couldn't think what she'd done to make him so on edge with her. She didn't want to think about it now, either. For all she knew, he probably still expected her to submit to a spanking, like she was five years old.

Her cheeks hot, her jaw clenched to keep from crying she jumped up from the seat and ran from the room.

Katherine rose from her seat, looking beseechingly at her husband. "David, it wasn't that bad. She's a sensitive girl. We don't know what's going on in her life, at school- she might have just had a bad day."

"You know how girls her age are Dad," Doogie offered. "One bad word at school can ruin their whole day. It's make or break in middle school, remember."

David sighed, shaking his head. "I just don't know."

Katherine walked over to him, kissing him gently on the forehead. "You can't David, you can't even imagine. After all, you've never been a little girl."

Doogie turned a laugh into a cough. "Mom, I don't think you should say that to her."

David sat down, more relaxed and smiled wanly. "Yes, I believe they're called, young women, now?" He shook his head again, amused by something. "Or is it adolescent?"

Katherine smiled at him. "I'll go talk to her."