Ignacio is 36, Nina is 15, Martin is 6
Nina hadn't spoken to her boyfriend since the school year had ended a month ago. She would call him when the telephone was free, but he always said those were the times he was busy. "You need to get a cellphone," he told her. "Then we would be able to talk."
So Nina got it in her mind that what she needed more than anything was her own cellphone. Her dad was on the phone all hours of the evening, working and talking to his students' parents, and then her brother would be on it talking to his friends. She saved up her allowance and gathered her arguments until she was ready.
"I think that, now that I am fifteen, I should be able to have a cellphone."
Ignacio raised his eyebrow. "I've told you before, Nina. I don't think you're ready. They're expensive, you could run up the bill, plus I don't want you getting distracted. Your schoolwork is important."
"But it's summer now! And I have enough money to buy it myself."
"Nina, let me tell you something. Everyday when I'm at work, I'll be lecturing or passing out assignments, and I see at least four or five heads down, staring at their phones in their lap. Those kids are all disconnected. They're worried about texting and gossip and who knows what else. I don't want you to be like that."
"I'm not like that. But all my friends have one, and I never get to talk to them without one."
"Is this about Daniel?"
Nina crossed her arms. "Uh...no, no, not at all."
"You know how I feel about him. His family is into some bad things."
"He can't help his family," she said. Then she muttered, "just like I can't help mine."
Martin looked up from stuffing his face.
"Well, if Nina can't, then can I have a cell phone?"
Everyone laughed. "Maybe when you're Nina's age, we'll talk about it."
Nina sighed. "This isn't fair."
After breakfast, Nina called her friend Jules Campbell, who invited her to come to the arcade.
"It's so cool that your dad owns the arcade!" Nina said.
"Yeah, we get to play all the games for free. Plus, when Dad gets lunch, he orders enough for me and my friends."
"Well, I hope he orders pizza today, that sounds good."
"So," Jules began. "You talk to your dad?"
Nina waved her off. "I've got it all under control. Does your dad still sell phones here?"
"Yeah, here they are. You should get this kind, it can call, message, take pictures, and do web."
"Are there any kinds where you pay for your time before you use it, so I don't get mailed a bill or anything?"
"Oh, Nina, you didn't ask your dad first?"
"Don't be such a wet blanket, Jules!"
"Step over here. Look."
It was Daniel, stepping out of the photobooth with some girl.
Nina gasped. "Wha-what?"
She stormed over to Daniel. "You're 'too busy'?! Busy doing what? This skank?!"
The girl put her hand on her hip. "Who are you calling skank, little girl?"
"I'm referring to the girl who's making out with my boyfriend!"
"He's not your boyfriend! Right, Dan?"
Daniel looked awkward. "Uh...."
"You know what, you can keep her! Mafia brat piece of trash!" She poked him in the chest. "I am so out of here."
Jules butted in. "Nina, do you want me to walk you home?"
"No, Jules, thanks. I want to be alone."
She stormed home, but Daniel followed her. "Nina, just talk to me!"
She ignored him all the way to her own front porch. "Daniel- or wait, don't you go by 'Dan' now? How cool. Just leave me alone."
Upstairs, Martin sat on his bed. He heard yelling from below, and looked out his window. He could see his sister.
He listened until he'd heard enough. "DAAAD!"
"Dan, go home. I don't want to talk to you anymore."
"Nina, I'm sorry."
"If you were sorry you wouldn't have done it. Why DID you do it?"
"Whitney is just mature, Nina. She's experienced."
"Well you two can have 'experiences' together. Get off my porch before my dad comes out here and beats you to death."
"So, I guess we're-"
Nina ran upstairs, unable to keep her tears in any longer. She sat in front of her bed and cried. She had never felt more betrayed, or sad.
Ignacio knocked on the door. "Nina. Nina, it's Dad. Let me in."
"I don't want to talk!"
"I have a present for you."
"What is it?"
She let him in, and he handed her a small package.
"You got me a phone?!"
"See, I'm not such a bad guy afterall, huh?"
Nina sniffled. "This isn't just because of what happened with Daniel, is it?"
"Well, no. But this helps a bit, doesn't it? Hey, don't say I never did anything for you."
"You're welcome, Nina. And hey, the first grade that isn't an A, I get the phone back.