Drowning in a never ending sea of frozen time, my seemingly calm world, spun into a volatile hurricane. Time passed, although my mind stayed frozen in one singular thought. He forgot. To him, I meant nothing more than a pawn in a chess game meant for only kings, not one of the many forgotten pieces. It was as if I represented a dim, insignificant star in the distance. My father created a storm filled with a variety of emotions. The eye of the storm would pass, however, the storm would always sit on the horizon, waiting for a gust of wind. By now, he should sit beside his daughter playing with toy trucks. He forgot about our weekly, Tuesday visit.
Before I arrived home, my day at school was filled with joy and laughter. I stepped out of the rose colored door and sautered out onto the playground. Corey, a boy with freckles and red curly hair, joined me as he often did.
“Should I save you from the scary, fire-breathing dragons or should we climb the trees in the jungle?” he asked kindly.
“The jungle,” I replied simply, “I want to be the hero this time.”
He nodded with a huge smile. All at once, the playground transformed into a huge jungle. Gradually, the overhanging tree branches blocked out the bright sun above. Corey grabbed my hand and united, we leapt across the luscious land, swinging from tree to tree as we giggled; our voices ricocheted under the thick tree canopy. We scaled the tallest tree in our line of sight and found a branch jutting sharply towards the ground that felt as if it laid dozens of miles beneath us. Swiftly, we flew down the rough surface and miraculously landed on our feet without the expected thud. I slowly inched towards a wailing tiger, and with a wave of my magical hand, the red, festering wound became its striped orange and black skin as it once was. We watched together as it raced farther into the dense jungle. A whistle blew and suddenly the green jungle’s floor transfigured itself into brown wood chips. The birds sat still and became swings that merely hovered a few feet above the ground. The vines transformed into bright red monkey bars although there wasn't a single monkey in sight.
“Have fun with your dad!” Corey called.
I smiled in response as we both trudged back into separate rooms. He knew how excited I’d grown to visit with him once again.
Our meeting time, 5:00pm, came and went. Staring at the clock nervously, I watched as 5:30 became 6:00. “Finding Nemo” had long since ended. Marlin had swam through the unforgiving, treacherous sea in order to search for his only son. He battled a bloodthirsty shark that wanted nothing more than the taste of a clownfish. They passed a reef the vibrant colors of my box of crayons, that laid on the table and encountered the same fish that laid on my bed stuffed. The two fish looked up at the same sun, yet they were dozens of miles away from each other. I wish I had a father like him. Soon, we realized we would spend the rest of the night alone. My mother reached for phone and began to punch in numbers, but got nothing in return except for the cold voice of the robotic operator. Soon, the sky filled with beautiful stars. I was just another replaceable star burning millions of miles away from where I stood that night. Like Nemo and his father, we stood beneath the same moon, yet our stories differed as my father was not searching for me. He was not searching for his only daughter that would soon be surrounded by dozens of flesh eating sharks.
After, a response finally came, he stated that he had forgotten about our little visit. He spoke as if it meant nothing to him; as if I meant nothing to him. I trudged down our never-ending hallway and flung myself onto my bed.
I could hear my mother’s voice ricocheting throughout the small apartment. “How could you forget you irresponsible, selfish-”
I clung to a stuffed bear in an elegant white, wedding dress, plastered with golden sequins. A gift from my father for my fifth birthday, which he couldn’t attend. Tears rolled down my cheeks and dropped onto the fuzzy, golden brown head of my bear. My tears left stains of pain that would never be erased. It wouldn’t matter how many times it spun in circles inside of the washing machine; they would remain for all of eternity, along with the plethora of other tears he would cause me as I grew older, resulting in an infinite sea of depression. I asked myself a question that no child should ever have to ask. Why doesn’t my father love me? Time passed so slowly that night. Years later, the same bear sat on a shelf above my bed. It served as a reminder of that day. A reminder of the eternal, true love I shared with my mother. A reminder of the pain and sorrow that my father had cause. I heard a knock at the door although I remained silent. My mother entered and plopped herself down at the foot of my bed.
“He’s really sorry, Lex,” she spoke, breaking the eerie silence.
“No- he- isn't,” I gasped.
My mother sighed heavily as if I had caught her in a lie.
“Your relationship with him will always be complicated, and it might not be what you want, but you have to keep fighting. You have to have hope that one day, the man sitting next to you at Christmas dinner, is perfect in his own imperfect ways. For now, you have to learn from his mistakes.”
She glanced over at me as I slowly picked up my head. A soft, gentle smile spread across her face. I pushed myself into her arms. She embraced me without question.
“Until that day, you must always remember that I love you to the moon and back.”
That night, I lost a piece of my innocence. I believed a dim, insignificant star in the distance meant nothing. It doesn’t. Every single star in the galaxy serves a purpose. They create wide smiles on the faces of the people who look up at the dark blue sky above. They cast light on the billions of people beneath them. They provide a blanket of stars that people require in the dead of night. Some provide people with hope while others fill them with sadness. That day, I made a vital decision. I chose to provide hope to the people who need it most. I chose to cast light on the darkness that lurks in the shadows of people’s nightmares. I continue to honor the promise I made to myself all those years ago.