White Lines

I sit in the front seat of my dad’s red 4X4 truck, my legs curled up against my chest, my head pressed against the cool window. I can feel the sharp chill of the December night pressing into the glass. Looking up past the trees that engulf us in every direction, I try to focus in on the stars. There aren’t many city lights around so I can see them distinctly above the trees. But I give up when the red and blue flashing lights give me a headache as they wash over my face in unnecessary color. I look out the driver’s side door at my dad talking to a police officer who looks uncomfortable and out of place in his stiff blue uniform with his gold badge and hand cuffs glinting in the colored lights. I stare at the scene unfolding in front of me; my father walking on the faded white line with his wobbly crooked steps, and touching his nose with his pointer finger-but not quit getting it.
I feel like I should say something to my older brother lying on his back in the back seat, but I know anything that comes out of my mouth would be returned with a cutting remark filled with tension and sarcasm. The truck is soaked in silence.
When the driver door opens, and the ceiling light flickers on, followed by the dinging that slices the silence in half. My dad slides in, slams the door shut and the car is once again filled with quiet, and a thick searing smell of hard alcohol. He sits there looking straight ahead. I straighten up and put my feet on the floor in front of me.
"I’m gonna go with the nice man" he says with a slur. Trying to make what’s happening right now less serious than it actually is. "I’ve already talked with Lori. Her and Andy are gonna come pick you up here." Finally he turns his head to look at me. His eyes are filled with guilt and regret. His jaw is clenched in a stubborn hatred for getting caught.
"It’s okay Daddy. We won’t leave," I say, my 11 year old voice trying to let him know that I’m a big girl and not scared. I try to tell him in just those six words that everything is going to be okay and I’ll eventually forgive him. That he needs to forgive himself, but also to learn a lesson in the night’s events.
I think back to how this night began. Waiting for my dad at the truck station, where we’ve met him every other weekend my whole life; then piling our bags of clothes into the bed of his truck, saying goodbye to my mom for the weekend. Excited to see my dad, to spend the weekend at his house near the beach, knowing that there my older brother and I will have a lot more freedom. Driving through Longview to a dark liquor store with small windows covered with old dirty alcohol ads, blocking the view to the inside, dad telling us to wait in the car in his loud grumble of a voice that only shows itself when he’s angry. He climbs out of the truck and slams the door behind him, letting his strength show itself through the vibrations of the truck; then returning with a brown paper bag, wrinkled at the top from his big worker-hands, rough and covered with yellow calluses that scratch you when you hold his hands squeeze it. Opening the tall bottle that looked like water, and as soon as he opens it, the smell filled the truck and got caught in your throat. Making you want to choke.
Driving through the windy roads, surrounded by trees on both sides I chattered away describing every over exaggerated detail of my underwhelming 11 year old life. Asking questions about what he thought of the difference between my blue fingernail polish and my pink toenail polish, but not waiting for his answer. Because I knew the only one I would get would be a low deep grumble that came from the back of his throat. A low almost silent growl that would tell me what I didn’t want to know. That he was more interested in the glass bottle in his left hand and the pearly white cigarette that hung from his lips, with the cascade of smoke floating out of the glowing red tip, than he was in his daughter. That if I stopped talking for even the shortest amount of time then my deepest fear would be confirmed. The fear no 11 year old girl should have of her father. The fear that the only reason he put up with us every other weekend wasn’t so he could be around his children, but so he didn’t have to pay the child support of those children.
I remember him cursing colorfully as the cop car that had been following us turned on its sirens, and Dad yelled at me like it was somehow my fault. The look on my brother’s face was pure confusion when my dad asked him to hide the alcohol in one of his bags. The police officer tapped on the window with the handle of his long black flash light, took one whiff of the car and looked at my brother and I before he asked my dad to step out of the vehicle, called for back up and started searching. It didn’t take long for him to find the big glass bottle of vodka. The look that contorted my dad’s face, as he climbed out of the truck with a big heavy angry sigh when the cop found the vodka was directed at my brother, as if it was his fault. As if because he didn’t hide it well enough.





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Aginger said...
Oct. 10, 2010 at 12:19 am
This is a very good story. I can easily see the innocence of your eleven year old self, yet I can also see the maturity because of what you had to see your dad like. You might want to watch your use of comma's and periods. There are a few run on sentences. Otherwise, it is evident that you are a good writer. Nice job!
 
Thegirlinthemirror said...
Sept. 10, 2010 at 2:40 pm
This is really quite beautiful. Your story telling is usperb and the fact that it's a true story makes it all the better. I can easily feel for you, and not just becaue of simular problems, but because of the innocent yet knowing voice that come from a child. Well done! :)
 
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