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Winter Mornings This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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My fondest memory of my father is when I was a young child during the cold winter months of Texas. I would wake up in the mornings cozy in my soft bed; it felt like living inside a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie. Knowing that everything outside my bed was cold and frosty gave me chills.

My dad would enter my room to interrupt my dreams so I could get ready for school, saying, “¡Hijo mio! Rise and shine.”

I would always try to weasel my way out of having to leave the bed, which never worked. As I’d stumble out of my refuge of blankets and sheets, my dad would sing a song he created just for me: “Stretch that body, stretch that body, make sure you don’t hurt nobody,” he would chirp. He has a voice that sounds like a train wreck, so it always made me laugh and managed to get me up, too.

I still remember how the brisk winter air felt as I got out of bed and it wrapped around my body. And I can remember the texture of the floors as I slid across them in my one-piece pajamas with the little footies attached. Weary-eyed, I would chew my Fruity Pebbles while staring at cartoons on the television. My dad would periodically poke his head into the kitchen, saying, “Hustle up, son.”

Eventually, I would finish breakfast, mosey upstairs, fall into some clothes and haphazardly brush my teeth. I then stumbled back down the stairs, still sleepy and cold. It never failed – I don’t know whether it was planned or just dumb luck – but I would always find my dad standing there with his jacket on and mine in his hand. He never let me put my jacket on by myself, even after I had become quite good at it, and he would zip me up.

This part still causes the corners of my mouth to stretch from ear to ear. His hands always smelled of cologne. It wasn’t a pungent, unpleasant odor, nor did it smell sweet. It was placid and safe. It said to me, Son, I love you, I’ll always take care of you and you’ll never want for anything. And to this day it has kept its promise.

My father’s cologne represents everything he means to me. Hero, saint and dad are all expressed in that one scent. As he would zip up my jacket, I couldn’t help but take in a deep breath. Maybe the sense of security it brought me as a child makes this a fond memory, or maybe I’m just crazy. I know, however, that I would give almost anything to have that kind of relationship with my father again.

I hate the fact that I’ve put up walls between us for petty reasons. He has never abused my mother or me, I have never gone a day without food, and he has always made sure I had the nicest clothes, the coolest toys, the smoothest bikes and the newest video games. His only fault, if you can call it that, has been that he loves me unconditionally and supports me in everything I do. When I fail, he encourages me, and when I disappoint him, he tells me how much he loves me.

I only hope that this memory I hold so dear and close to my heart will one day stop haunting the depths of my mind and become reality again. That will only happen when I demolish the walls I have unjustly built against the person who loves me the most.

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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