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

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     I jump up from craning my neck over algebra homework, trip over my comforter on the floor and barge into the hall to answer the telephone. I pick up the receiver just before the answering machine takes it. A recorded female voice fills my ear. “Collect call” and “Correction Center” tell me that it’s not that cute band geek I ran into the other day.

Then my dad’s voice comes on and suddenly I wish I weren’t there. I feel the sadness fill my body, starting with my brain and going through my heart, which sinks to my toes and then to the floor. I wish I hadn’t heard his voice.

I run, phone in hand, to my mom who’s sleeping down the hall, telling her “It’s Dad. It’s Dad on the phone, Mom.” She looks at me with all the grogginess of a woman who works full-time to support us, a mother who homeschools her two kids and only wants the best for them. “Well, hang up, Erica,” she tells me with a look that says “You knew he was in jail, right?”

I stare at the receiver, the lady’s voice filling the background like in an old horror movie. I feel everything at that moment, standing in my mother’s doorway and

holding the phone, the only thing that connects me to my dad. I don’t want Mom to notice my hidden feeling of actually wanting to hear my dad’s voice, even if it comes from jail.

I hear the words I was dreading: “Do you want to talk to him?” Too late. That is it. I press the off button. I couldn’t let her see that. I feel too embarrassed and ashamed. A quick thought - If I had actually talked to him, it would have just made me feel worse - is not the only reason I hung up on my father.

“It’s fine,” I tell my mom, with a way too obvious I’m-trying-to-be-strong voice. Her worried face almost makes me break down, but instead I make my stubbornness feed off it. She tells me to sit down, patting the side of the bed. I tell her that I need to finish my math, and leave with a very uneven good night.

No matter how much I wanted to sit on that bed and cry my eyes out with my mom’s comforting arms around me, I couldn’t. My dad’s voice. It shattered whatever wall I had been trying to build against him. Trying not to feel. If only ... if only I hadn’t heard.

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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