Lost Hope: Thomas McKinley's Journal This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   Ehen Sam was born I felt joy as neverbefore. He was so weak and innocent. He was for me to mold andenlighten. I became overwhelmed. I broke down into tears. Atfirst it was because of Sam, but then I found myselfreflecting on my parents and how I had never had a chance toshow my love for them, as a good

sonshould.

They were both brought up in affectionatehouseholds that had a strong sense of love, from onegeneration to the next. I broke that pattern. I took theirkindness and rejected it with outright defiance andrebelliousness. Little did I know how precious parentsare.

I longed for something that could help repair myrelationship with my dead parents. Sam's birth did that, andfilled a place in my heart I'd thought would always beenveloped in sorrow. Funny, I feel as if I died within ahospital and was reborn in one.

I have never forgottenthe day my parents died. I began the regret-filled rainyevening by losing my temper about something I had no rightto.

"Why can't I use the car?" Ipersisted.

"Calm down. Your mother and I have tovisit a sick cousin and the other cars are in the shop, youknow that," my father replied.

"Whichcousin?"

"A distant cousin," saidmother.

"Can't you visit himtomorrow?"

"No, he might not make it throughthe night, and besides, we've given you the car for the entireweek. This is an emergency and you'll have to live withoutseeing your friends for one night," shesaid.

"Why do I always have to get the short endof the stick?"

My father then spoke in a harshtone that I was not used to, "Enough! Stop talking back!You are my son, and you will not speak with such disrespect toyour mother, or to me! You are grounded for the night. You arenot to leave this house. Now, go to yourroom!"

For a moment, I was flustered. The sound ofthousands of small droplets of rain seemed to steal myattention so I could not concentrate. I couldn't speak. Myfather had never spoken to me like this, and I never thoughthe would; I was 17 and he had always been patient whenreprimanding me. The angriest he had ever been was when I was15 and didn't come home one night. They took away all myprivileges and gave me the silent treatment. He had nevershouted at me. Now, filled with anger and embarrassment, Iwent to my bedroom without hearing from my conscience. I gazedout my window, the gray formless clouds adding to myconfusion. A single tear crept down my cheek. I looked in themirror and became infuriated. I felt an injustice had beendone. Strange, though, I didn't even think of leaving thehouse. Strange, knowing my past, my father didn't evenhesitate when he ordered me to my room. He didn't even appearto entertain the idea of my running away. That was the firsttime I had ever feared what my parents might do to me. Theaccompanying guilt was also new.

Reality struck. I was17, almost 18, and reckless. I can't believe my father didn'tkick me out of the house. I darted out of my room toapologize, ask their pardon and promise I would nevermisbehave again, but I had missed them. They had already left.I ran outside, without shoes, hoping to catch them in thedriveway. The black night consumed the car, leaving only thetaillights barely visible. The indifferent night made me feelso alone. My bare feet almost froze because of the rainfall asI walked back to the house, feeling guilty for every second Idid not speak to them. That was the last time I saw themconscious.

Struggling with impatience, I could onlywait until they came home to release my anxiety. I could notrelax. I asked the butler if he had their number. He hadneither a phone number nor an address because of thesuddenness of my cousin's illness.

Waiting that nightwas the worst punishment I had ever experienced. The news onTV added to my worry. There was a horrific accident on I-95near Exit 50 and the car that was wrecked resembled myparents'. I remember verbatim the phone call I received a fewhours later.

"Hello, may I speak to a ThomasMcKinley, please?"

Oh God, no, dear God, no, Ithought.

"This is he, who'scalling?"

"This is the Maryland MemorialHospital. We're calling regarding the car accident yourparents were just in."

I prayed that the totaledBMW I had seen on the news was nottheirs.

"Accident?" I felt my heart throbwith panic.

"Yes, they were driving down I-95 whena bus with a flat tire cut them off. They lost control andcrashed into the cement divider. They are in criticalcondition with severe injuries."

I fell to myknees, crying. When the butler came in, I had difficultytelling him. A neighbor drove us to the hospital. I could onlythink of the car I'd seen on TV. I spent the night at theirbedsides weeping and speaking to them while they layunconscious. They died just before dawn.

After thefuneral I moved away to live with my aunt. I learned to copewith my feelings and tried to make the best of every day.Since then I have been unable to escape a conscience thatwhispers tearful events of a horrific night.

I was notable to exonerate myself, but my wife was. Through the birthof Samuel I felt as though I'd be able to remove my grief byunderstanding what it is to be a parent. I now believe I willbe able to re-establish and uphold the family tradition oflove.

Finally, the day came when Sam could leave thehospital. That day, my wife, Kate, and I would begin our yearsof child-rearing in our new house. The fall afternoon waswarm, with a light breeze that was becoming a little chilly.As I entered the hospital, the clouds began to darken as thesun set. I met Kate inside, and we went to get the baby. Hewas sleeping. He looked so tender and calm. I couldn't wait tohold him. We walked out of the hospital into the soft drizzleof the night. We got into our car and headed down I-95. Therain became heavy, and the whistling of the wind reminded meof the loneliness I felt when my parents drove off into thenight.

Kate gasped as a car swerved in front of us. Theslippery road sent us skidding; I hit the brakes. We were

at a complete stop on the shoulder of theroad.

I was crying, but okay, and so was Kate. We wereonce again on our way home. When we pulled into the drivewayand stopped, I hugged Kate. I looked into her eyes thatreflected the moon. They told a story, a story filled with thejoys of life, and the sorrows, but also hope.




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






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Swifty said...
Mar. 6, 2011 at 12:32 pm
that was quite good, well written. make sure you always check spelling. Other than that it was fantastic, if you extended and added more detail it would be an amazing book, I think. keep writting. :)
 
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