'That kiss tasted like asphalt', was Stella's first coherent thought that day. It was a dreary day, one where the sun shone for an hour before disappearing behind gray clouds. It wasn't going to rain, the TV weatherman had promised on the previous evening's six o'clock news, but there was a slight chance of drizzling.

Stella McBride sipped her black coffee with the ease of a skilled businesswoman – only that she wasn't, and her coffee came in a pale blue, middle-sized mug with a Hindu cow cartoon on it. She was nearing the pearly age of freedom (easily dubbed as age eighteen) and was quite satisfied with life. Well, as satisfied as one could with rugged asphalt-like kisses.

Stella's father was a well-known businessman: Vincent McBride was a 'fine man' with a 'cunning business sense'. Only he couldn't work a computer, didn't own a car and couldn't operate a cellphone for the life of his children. Vincent's form of an ideal life consisted of never paying taxes (or bills) and always coming home smelling of farm animals.

After a two-minute stare-down with his wife, Vincent turned to his homecooked dinner, belched quite loudly and scratched his armpit with fervor; he had had a hard day of work, running between this client and that, and now had finally returned to the sanctum of his home. He cut into his dinner roughly and poured the barbeque sauce onto the Linguini. His wife made a tsk-ing sound from somewhere in the kitchen, but he ignored her as he proceeded to drink what was left in the house.

His youngest son (from his current wife, that is) sauntered into the room. Father and son exchanged commodities before his military-wonderboy handed over to his successful and well-respected father illegal passes for the train. His son bid him goodnight and went somewhere else.

Vincent had to pause in the middle of biting into his second sandwich to entertain his wife's crazy questions. Something about some bill or some form that needed to be signed. Yadda, yadda, yadda, no electricity… He grunted something that sounded accusatory – though maybe that tone had been explanatory, he wasn't sure – and continued wolfing down his fourth ham and cheese on buttered white bread sandwich.

Choking slightly on a pickle, Vincent realized his youngest daughter (from his current wife) was staring at him and looking quite displeased. She held that darned hippie cow mug in her hand and he felt somewhat annoyed at her for interfering with his dinner.

"Did you finish eating everything in the fridge yet?" She put the mug in the sink but didn't bother to wash it.

Vincent grunted and his wife said something to the girl. The girl turned worshiping, starstruck eyes at her mother and it was Vincent's turn to tsk out loud. The girl turned around and started lecturing him, he rolled his eyes and got a new bottle of Coke –oops, was that the last one? – out of the fridge. The kid was such a nuisance, with all her annoying Asian hobbies (his eldest daughter from his first marriage taught the theater of Buto! Vincent felt pride thump inside his chest) and accusations of him being unsuccessful in his work. What did she know? She wasn't working.

Finally the girl stopped yelling at him and turned away, all teary-eyed. His wife said something to him in a cold voice before going after her youngest. It didn't matter; nothing really mattered to Vincent, as he ate his second slice of homemade pie.

Stella puffed out her cheek, trying to amuse her thoroughly un-amused mother. She was hoping for a kiss, and maybe even a little giggle. What she did get, however, was quite unplanned, and just as unpleasant. Her father laughed heartily (well, as heartily as a man with no heart could) before telling her mother that Stella was "aiming for a kiss" and then, without letting Stella protest, kissed her soundly on the cheek.

Fairly un-amused, Stella grabbed her mug and turned toward her room, but certain emotions (hatred and disgust, mostly) got the better of her, and her favorite coffee mug (the one with the Hindu cow on it, with the nice baby blue coloring) went crashing on the kitchen floor. Now they would have to buy her a new mug, and the cost would weigh on the girl heavily. Stella shrugged with forced indifference and spit-cleaned her cheek as she walked up the stairs leading to her room.

Though she stayed indoors, the smell of dry asphalt and cowhide hung inside her nostrils for the rest of the weekend.