Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

The Choice

Custom User Avatar
More by this author
On the rare occasions when rain visited the desert, it was like Armageddon had broken loose from the sky and was assaulting the car. The raindrops fell like hammers. Adjusting the windshield wipers of the rusty ’96 Buick, the man swore at himself for what he was about to do. He was a skinny twenty-something, haggard with deep circles under his eyes and a scar on his jaw. Running his hands through his beard, he forced himself not to look in the passenger seat. The sense of regret was about to run him off the road, or worse: make him turn around. He reminded himself the reasons why-- I don’t want this life for her, she could be killed and it would be my fault. She’d slow us down… The bundle in the passenger seat began to cry. The tiny wail broke the last barrier in his heart, and the man began to weep. He didn’t know where he was taking her, only that she couldn’t stay. My daughter, forgive me…
The cries wouldn’t stop. His self-hatred grew as he realized he had no diapers, bottles, or even a pacifier. But he had to keep driving, peering to see through the driving rain. The clouds were black, with the occasional crack of judgmental thunder. Miles passed; sparse gas stations and sleazy barbeque joints were all this hick town had to offer. But the man welcomed the remote landscape, knowing there was no way they would search this far south. She would be safe, he would be safe. But he couldn’t stay. No, no no…he pushed the tempting thoughts aside. He wasn’t really safe anywhere. The baby stopped crying, lifting a little regret from his heart. The man breathed a sigh of relief and closed his eyes to escape for an instant.
Opening his eyes, he slammed the brakes, nearly colliding with the white Volvo in front of him. Red light. Nice going. The sudden stop filled his veins with adrenaline, but the passenger started crying again. “Shh, shhh, everything’s going to be all right,” The man tried to force himself to believe it too.

He talked to the small passenger for minutes, hours—time seemed to stop. He tried to explain himself to her, hoping when she became old enough to understand, she wouldn’t hate him for doing this. All his tears were shoved aside, for later--he felt the need to be strong for the last few minutes they had together. Courage was the last gift he could give her, the only legacy he could hope to have. But what was he talking about—the baby wouldn’t even remember him. The man stared into the thinning rain, musing. The white Volvo belonged to a happy little family, with three bouncing children in the back seat. A billboard advertised a Creekside Community Hospital’s award-winning maternity ward, complete with a picture of a smiling infant. Life seemed to be mocking him. He slammed the horn for no obvious reason and the Volvo changed lanes.
As time passed, what started as rural became desolation. This appeared to be the worst road in the US, and the dark, looming trees cast shadows that sent chills down the man’s spine. The Buick rolled past a painted wooden sign: Sykes Family Circus. A circus. Perfect, he thought sarcastically--but they would accept her. She could fit in there. Where else was she supposed to go…? But knowing his destination made the man feel no better, and a malignant voice whispered that no place on earth held any happiness for his daughter.
The woods made the man increasingly uneasy, knowing it would be all too simple to be ambushed here. He continued to speak out loud to calm his fears and to stifle the guilt, much like how a child sticks his fingers in his ears and hums so the monster will go away. He was safe here. Of course he was, thousands of miles from all of them! Safe, safe, safe… But he didn’t feel safe. A flicker of motion caught the man’s eye. He slammed the old Buick to a stop, grabbing his gun from the glove compartment and hastily dropping the baby in the rear seat. Breathing heavily, he turned the engine off and listened desperately for inorganic sounds. He willed the child not to cry. Silence. Good baby. He cursed himself again for his paranoia. Keep driving…

The trees suddenly stopped, revealing a clearing with a large blue-and red canvas tent. The sign was weather-beaten and chipped, and there were only a few cars in the small parking lot. The man’s instincts told him this was dangerous and not the right place. But he argued back: it’s a family circus, she’ll be safe there, there’s no place else to go, there’s no more time… The situation made the man sick to his stomach. The shred left of his conscience gave him actual physical pain as he forced his feet to carry him out of the car, pick up the basket, and take it to a trailer near the big top. There were voices inside—a woman and a man. They will take care of my baby girl, he repeated over and over. They will love her. They will love her because she’s special.

Filled with shame, the man gingerly dropped the basket outside the trailer door. Keeling over, he vomited over the railing. He hoped they hadn’t heard him—the gaze of a human would be too much to bear. He staggered back to the car. Once on the road, he blasted hard rock and uttered every foul word in all five languages he knew, each worthy of landing a man in hell. Riding in silence, thoughts were allowed to roam unchecked through his conscience. The note, the man weakly protested. They’ll read the note, and when she’s sixteen they’ll give her the letter. They’ll love her, they’ll love her, they will…because she’s special. Because she’s perfect. How could they not love a baby with wings? He pictured them again, tiny, feathery…

This time, the flicker of motion in the woods went unnoticed. A popping noise filled his ears a moment before he lost control of the car. A screeching, skidding noise…a scream. With a second loud bang, another tire was gone. The man’s neck hurt from whiplash. Can’t let them hit the--

Under a silent grey sky, a blue 1996 Buick exploded into flames.



Join the Discussion


This article has 3 comments. Post your own!

ImaginedangerousThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 7, 2010 at 11:22 am:
I like your descriptions. The story reminds me of Maximum Ride. Good job.
 
inspir3dThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 8, 2010 at 1:37 pm :

Thanks!

i've gotten that once before, guess i oughta read it haha :)

 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Kilikilakia2012This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jul. 23, 2010 at 1:06 am:
I love this!! You r a really god writer! I would like to read the whole storyandfind out what happens to little girlwith the wings. :)
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Site Feedback