Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

Owen's First Visit This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   (A tall adolescent walks through a dark cemetery. He stops at a small tombstone,kneels and starts to talk. Two months ago, Owen's father died. This is the firsttime he has come to visit.)

"Hey, Dad... so how are you doing up there? Is heaven as wonderful as everyone says? Is itfilled with fields of flowers and mountains of clouds? Is everyone always happy?I know you're probably feeling terrific up there, but I miss you, and so doeseveryone else. Mom's going through a depression, she just can't stand seeing yourempty chair at the dinner table. Joe-Lynne is still too young to reallyunderstand what's going on.

"I'm the man of the house now. I'mtrying my best to keep the family together; I try to be the strong one. I keep myhead high and try to forget you're not around to talk to anymore. But it's hard,Dad, it's really hard to fill your shoes and keep everything going. It's hard togo on when you're all we have on our minds. I try to be tough and not show Momthe stress of school and home. It's wearing me down, but the last thing she needsto see is another crying face. Yesterday, I overheard her talking to Grandma onthe phone. She said something like, 'I wonder if Owen even cares his father'sdead. He didn't even cry at the funeral, he just stood there. It's like he isn'taware of the things that have been going on. It's like he doesn't remember thepolice officer coming to the door to tell us about the car accident. He just goesin his room, some nights for hours on end, playing guitar or listening to music.Sometimes he doesn't even come out for dinner. I understand Joe-Lynne not beingaffected, she's only three. But Owen's 18. You would think he'd show somesorrow.'

"Mom doesn't understand, she doesn't see how hard I try tohelp. When she's feeling depressed I take Joe-Lynne to the park and play withher. Sometimes I try to make something for dinner, or save money to help with thebills. She doesn't realize what I do. She never gives me credit for helping withthe family. She just concentrates on how it's odd that I'm not mourning. I feellike giving up.

"Sometimes I come home from school, open the door andwish you were there when I walk in, just like when I was young. But you neverare. I come home and there's a note on the fridge saying, 'Owen, I'll be homelate tonight. Make yourself the Kraft Dinner I left on the counter. Don't worryabout Joe-Lynne, she's at Aunt Jane's house. See you soon, Mom.' And I just sitthere eating my soggy dinner, alone, in the silence of the emptyhouse.

"I try to be tough, Dad, I try to be strong like you taughtme. But it's really difficult. I keep wishing and wanting you to be here. I knowyou might be here in spirit, but that's not enough. I feel helpless without youaround.

"On the outside, I'm walking around living. It's as if somesort of magnetic field is protecting me. But inside, Dad, I'm crying, I'm fallingapart, I'm screaming for someone to be there for me. Mom, Joe-Lynne, everyone, weall need you. I know I can't change what happened, but I wish I could. SometimesI wish it was me in that car.

(There's a long silence and then Owenfinally speaks again.)

"Do you remember what happened just before yougot in your car that morning? We were arguing, I don't even remember about what.All I remember is getting really upset and saying things I never should have. Ifelt horrible afterwards and couldn't wait until you got home so I couldapologize, but you never came home. I remember thinking it was my fault, that youwere so angry with me you didn't see the car coming at you. If only I hadn't saidthose horrible things, you'd still be alive. It's all my fault! You were soticked at me when you left, but I deserved it after what I said. I told you Ihated you, that I was going to run away ... but you're the one who left. 'I hateyou,' that's harsh. Oh, Daddy, you know I didn't mean that, really, I didn't.Please forgive me. Tell me it wasn't my fault, Dad ...

(Owen throws hishands in the air in frustration, then buries his face in them.)

"Whycan't I say this? I just can't believe you're not with me anymore. Daddy, isn'tit strange how things seem to get worse when no one is around? You were the onlyone who understood me.

(Tears fill Owen's eyes and he criesuncontrollably. After a while he looks up, wipes his eyes, takes a deep breathand smiles.)

"You know, that's the first time I've cried. I've kepteverything inside for two months. What really gets me is seeing your tombstonehere in the cemetery and realizing there's no way I can get youback.

(More tears run down Owen's cheeks. He wipes them from hiseyes.)

"It feels good to get everything out. Hey, even though you'renot here physically, you're still here to listen. Even though we didn't alwaysagree on everything, I miss you. I miss your guidance, I miss hearing you playthe piano and I miss having talks with you about all the things you did when youwere my age. Dad, you know I've never told you this before, but I love you, Dad,I really do."

(Owen bends down, kisses the grave, takes a deep breathand walks away, feeling as though the spirit of his father is holding his handand walking beside him.)




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback