One is Enough

January 16, 2012
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I nervously drummed my fingers against my desk. This is it, I thought. This is the moment. I glanced down uneasily at the unfinished letter, and then smiled slightly at the picture of my father holding the baby me, frozen in a state of eternal laughter. With a sigh, I carefully concluded the letter in neat handwriting; I wanted him to think I was perfect, absolutely perfect! After all, what father would want a messy, sloppy daughter with scrawled handwriting? At the end of the letter, I dabbed a little of Calvin Klein’s Euphoria on the edge; I hoped this spicy perfume would contrast with my mother’s sweet scent and push any memories of her to the back of his mind.
The thought of my mother brought up a swell of anger inside me. It had been she, after all, who had driven my father away. It was her incessant yelling that had caused my father to bang his fists against the wall, driving my brother Danny and me to hide in our rooms from their angry words. It had been her constant nagging that had led my father to start up the friendship with the woman at the dry cleaning store. It wasn’t my father’s fault that he had often come home drunk at 4 a.m.; anyone with a constantly scolding wife would be reluctant to come home to her. It was my mother, completely her, who had banished my father, tearing this entire family apart! Who would have ever thought that the person to ultimately destroy my life would be my supposed caretaker and protector: my mother! Carol, I reminded myself angrily. She is nothing but Carol to me now!
I felt tears prick my eyes. Why had he left me? I understood his desire to abandon my mother—I mean Carol—but I thought I had been a pretty decent daughter. Was it because I resembled her too much? My hair, my face, the shade of my eyes?
Tears slid down my face, attacking the corners of my mouth, their saltiness seeping through my lips. Wiping them away heatedly, I forced my hands to stop their shaking and slowly folded my letter. I had purchased a cream-colored, heavy envelope yesterday after school to put the letter in. Instead of the cheap, flimsy envelopes we had lying around the house, I’d bought a thick, rich-feeling one that cost $1.13 at the post office; I just wanted him to be impressed. Maybe, despite Carol, he would be impressed enough with my sophistication to come back and live with us! Everything just had to be perfect.
A quiet knock sounded at my bedroom door, and Danny entered the room.
“Mom says she got us all tickets to see the game,” he said timidly.
“Good for her,” I replied sullenly. I shifted my Algebra textbook slightly so that it partially hid my letter from sight.
“We’re leaving in 5 minutes.” Danny turned to leave.
I stood up angrily. “Who said I want to go?” I demanded.
“Well Mom got 3 tickets—“
I let out a mirthless laugh. “I don’t like sports, and neither does she. Anyway, it should be Dad taking you to the game. Why are you even going with her? She’s just trying to buy your love.”

A long silence crept throughout the room. I turned my back to him and faced the window, struggling to prevent the tears from escaping my eyes.
“It’s not her fault,” he finally replied. “She’s just trying to make up for what happened.”
I said nothing.
Danny sighed. “I guess I’ll ask Beth to come with us,” he muttered, and left the room, closing the door with a soft click.
I whipped around and screamed. “SEE IF I CARE! GO ON AND HAVE FUN WITH YOUR LITTLE GIRLFRIEND, YOU AND BETH AND CAROL! GO ON AND HAVE THE TIME OF YOUR LIVES,” I shouted at the closed door. “I’M NOT GOING TO BETRAY DAD!” My voice broke on the last word.
The tears were freefalling by now. I collapsed into my chair and a tear splashed onto the half-covered letter.
“No,” I moaned desperately. A spot, a blotch, on my father’s letter! I scrubbed violently at the paper and felt it rip at the corner. As I glared at the soiled letter, a feeling built up inside me. What was it? Anger? Longing? Regret?
What kind of daughter have I become?

I crumpled up the paper and threw it fiercely into the trash can.

“Mom,” I cried out. I ran to the window and saw that the car containing my mother and Danny had just started up.

“Mom!” I half-sobbed, half-screamed. “I want to come with you!” I pelted towards my door and fumbled with the handle. As I threw it open, I sprinted down the stairs three at a time, and then wrenched the front door open.

“Mom,” I called out desperately. “Please, I just want to come with you! Mom!”

As the car began to move, her head turned and her warm, tired brown eyes met mine. Mingled with sadness and defeat, her face betrayed resentment and love, denial and acceptance, confusion and curiosity, and a little bit of…hatred?

My heart froze.

And the car stopped for me.

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Matt C. said...
Jan. 31, 2012 at 7:07 pm
This is great!
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