"Stop whining!" I tell my little sister.
"But it hurts, Melissa! It hurts!"
As I drag her towards our home, or at least what we call our home, the road seems to unwind and get longer and longer.
"My feet hurt, Melissa!"
"We're almost home, Ivy."
The road is long and our feet ache from the scorching rocks beneath our feet. Ever since our dad abandoned us, life has been really hard. One day, when we were at soccer practice, he never came to pick us up. We walked the long way home and found a sign that said in big red letters: FOR SALE. I cried for a long time, and from that point on, I was in charge of seven-year-old Ivy.
Ivy and I - We are what society calls "orphans", but I prefer the term:"temporarily without a father" because I know that my father is out there somewhere and that someday he'll come back for us. We are also "permanently without a mother" because my mother abandoned us when I was born. I never met her, but my father says that she was beautiful and could move the waves of the ocean with her soothing voice. He says that one day, she came home crying from her work and just packed her bags and left without a word.
Ivy is ten, six years younger than me. We have been forced to live in the shadows and learn to look out for ourselves. The truth is, though, that we have not always been like this because I brought this upon ourselves. Now, we have no food, no shoes, no mother nor father, nor a place to call home.
"Melissa, don't waste your food!" Dad yells.
"It's just- That I don't really like this food," I say with a wrinkle in my nose.
My dad pauses to look at me and begins his lecture.
"Melissa, there are kids in other countries that are wishing they had the food that you are wasting right now."
"But how do they even know that I have this food?"
He sighs. "Melissa, that's not my point."
"Someday, the day will come when we will all be wishing for the food that we are wasting today. When that day comes, there will be famine and people will have remorse for all the food that they've wasted. Don't waste your food."
Time and time again, my father always scolded me for throwing away the food that I had not eaten. We were living a luxurious life and I always thought, "Oh well, things always come and go." But I was wrong because now, our father had left us and we were living in a camp for all the homeless people. My father was right. I now always find myself wishing for the food that I once wasted. Now, we have to steal and barter food. It's not like the old days when the maid would cook our food and we would just sit down and wait for her to serve it on our plates. I remember the exquisite meals that were prepared for us and longed for them.
My sister was starting to be the same way. When she saw that I threw away my food, she did the same, even if she was actually hungry. She is only ten years old and already knows a whole lot about the world. When I was ten, I only cared about the clothes I wore and the way I looked. But Ivy, she is so innocent; she is so sweet. I should've set a good example for her to follow, but I was very selfish.
We get home by nighttime and we are very tired. We enter the tents and plop ourselves down on the ground. Ivy lays down beside me and she quickly falls asleep. She is snoring, and under her snores, I can hear her stomach growling. My sweet sister. We've turned into ravenous beasts. I brought this upon ourselves. Deep melancholy washes over me and tears begin trickling down my face. I can feel them rolling down my arms and onto the blankets. Oh, how I wish that they would magically turn into a tree full of food- and this silly thought reminds me of my father. I begin crying more- and I just can't stop. Why did dad leave us? Why? Was it because he was tired of me wasting my food? Was it because he didn't love us anymore? Why? Buckets of tears are pouring out of my eyes. I am drowning in a flood of sorrow and can't breathe. This is my fault.
Ivy wakes up.
"Melissa, why are you crying?"
I can hear her worried voice and wipe away my tears.
"I'm sorry for everything, Ivy."
"Sorry for what, Melissa?"
"I'm sorry for being the reason that daddy left us, Ivy."
"Melissa, don't say that."
"It's true, Ivy!" I yell.
Despite my sudden outbreak, she hugs me.
"Please forgive me, Ivy!"
I cry and hug her back tightly, holding her for a very long time. My father let go of us and I was not going to let go of my little sister. She is my life. She is the sunshine of my life. She is the reason I wake up every morning and my motivation to do what is right. As long as she's here with me, I'll keep fighting for her and for us.
My father's abandonment always leaves me wondering, "Why did he leave us?"
I loved him, and still do. If I were to see him one day, I would forgive him.
He would say, beginning to cry, "Mel, I didn't mean to leave y'all."
"I forgive you, Daddy." I would say with pain in my voice.
"Why do you forgive me, Mel, after what I did to you and Ivey?" he would ask with painful tears in his eyes.
Because you're my father and I love you, dad." "Because it's my fault that you left us."
"Don't say that, Melissa. I left y'all because I was selfish!"
And sputtering, with all the pain in the world, I would say, "I forgive you because I'm the one that brought this darkness upon ourselves!"