Lost It Friday

By
The year, I cannot recall, the date is also a mystery. But the day, for me that day symbolizes the
day my Pandora's box was opened. Though I didn't realize it then, it altered me in more ways than
one. But the story does not begin on the day. No, it started two days before, on Wednesday. But in a
way, it had been happening since I could remember' My steps were long, full of energy. On my face
was the pure expression of anticipation and joy. Today was the day he would come home. For once he
wouldn't have to be at work from six in the morning to one the next day. Maybe he would even be able
to pick me up from school tomorrow. Wednesday had finally come. I barely noticed that I had left my
grandfather to trail behind, but given the circumstances it hardly made me feel guilty. Just as long
as I finished all my homework in time to have the evening free. A smile stretched across my face as
I burst through the door and hurried straight to my room, practically tearing my workbook pages as I
rushed to finish the easy homework. I completed everything within the hour with just another hour to
spare. Maybe I would shower and eat something. Or perhaps I should wait for him to arrive before
eating. I was too anxious to eat anyhow. One hour passed slowly. By five p.m. on the dot I was
sitting in the den, waiting, watching the driveway impatiently. Mom had come home from the
university, tired as usual, hell bent on squeezing in some much needed studying. I was too excited
to distract her today. Six o'clock came, and the driveway remained dim. Seven, eight. My bedtime.
The phone rang just as I was about to ask mom how long it should take to drive here from the
airport. But even I, a third grader, could tell that it shouldn't take this long. Mom hung up after
about five minutes and turned to me. 'He's postponed his arrival date to Friday. You should really
get some sleep now.' My heart fell as a sense of déja vu struck me. I sighed wordlessly, kissed my
mother on the cheek and trudged off to bed. I couldn't help but notice how with those words she
seemed to age about thirty years. ' Thursday passed slowly while Friday morning was a blur. Once
again I skipped home from school, even more apprehensive than I had been on Wednesday. For sure he
would be home by tonight. On Sunday I would ask him, no, beg him to call in sick to work. On Fridays
we had no homework, so I had about three hours of free time on my hands. A little TV wouldn't hurt.
The computer was out of the question since Mom would be home, furiously typing a term paper or
checking for updates on the UN website that would be helpful at work. She was never relaxed anymore.
Once again time went at its leisurely pace, making three hours seem like three days. But finally,
when seven o'clock came around I was ready. Watching the driveway from the couch I crossed my legs
and held my feet in place. It was all I could do to stop myself from bouncing off the walls. Once
again, the arrival time came and went. The driveway remained silent, never illuminated by car lights
in the ebony night. Once again my anticipation turned into uneasiness. And once again the ringing
of the phone interrupted the hushed atmosphere of the house. In the back of my mind I knew what that
meant, another delayed flight. Was my grandfather really that sick' My mother answered, this time
switching to Twee, a native dialect of Ghana. I had never been taught. They often used it only to
discuss 'adult' matters. As my mother held the phone out to me she seemed to have aged again, one
hundred years this time. When I relieved her of the phone she allowed her head to collapse into her
hands on the desk. I put the receiver to my ear and spoke, heart fluttering out of control. 'Daddy''
'Hey kid, what's up'' 'I was waiting for you. Where are you'' 'I'm still in Ghana.' 'When are you
coming back'' There was a pause at the other end, dead silence that made me shift my weight to my
right leg. He cleared his throat and answered. 'You know what's been happening lately, and' I'm not
coming back,' another pause, 'ever.' His words stung like alcohol on a fresh wound, but worse. They
stung so bad I went numb. My joints locked, leaving my petrified, a statue. The phone slipped from
my grasp and before I knew it I was inhaling the carpet that had once been beneath my feet. No tears
came to my eyes. I watched as my surroundings went dim and all of my thoughts began to rush like a
swirling mass of madness. They were like angry voices, shouting at me. Their volume built and built
until something snapped. The thoughts stopped. I couldn't feel my heart beating anymore. There was
nothing but numbness. I had never been unable to match a name of an emotion to what I was feeling.
But the funny thing was, the reason why I had no name for what I felt was because I felt nothing. I
was hollow. I sensed my mother coming to retrieve the phone. I knew she was standing over me, but
she may as well have been thin air. My face grew hot, and I realized I was crying. For years I had
watched as arguing had torn them apart. Since I could remember the unspeakable deed that had been
done made them grow less and less fond of each other. And as they grew more and more distant the
things they were able to say and do to each other were things no child should have to remember. But
to actually hear him say the words really meant it was over. He had run away. Where did that leave
me' Why should I care so much' Did that mean he didn't love me anymore' Did that mean he didn't want
me anymore' It was at that moment that the hollowness was replaced by steel. It was from then on
that I could remember not being able to show true expression. Everything I did and felt was
halfhearted. I had my doubts about everyone. Paranoia took its control over my mind. No one would be
allowed to mend my solidified heart, or I was sure it would be turned to pure ice if given the
chance. If someone as close as my father could hurt me this badly then there was no one who could
truly love me. No, I would not be vulnerable. I was nine then. Today, five years later, things have
changed. Circumstances have changed, as well as the people I surround myself with. But I cannot
change. I am scarred. Worse things happen to other people, but that was my hell. I think, with
effort, it has gotten better. I can turn off the paranoid alarm every once in a while'only every
once in a while. But my steely exterior has always, and will always shelter a weak interior of
muddled thoughts and emotions that all together protect the part of me that can possibly be
salvaged, if given time. But there is a price I must pay during that time, a daily price. Not many
know. Do not judge me by the expression I wear on my face. A grimace can stand for love, confusion,
happiness or pain. Do not try to guess what I am thinking by the way I turn my lips. I want to smile
but often find myself using a blank expression. Do not assume that you know me, because I am still
discovering myself.





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