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The Question This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

You looked at me and smiled. My throat closed up. You winked and nodded. You whispered in my ear, “You’ll be okay.” I closed my eyes and hoped I would be. A single tear rolled down my cheek. I held my breath.

I can’t remember when this all started. One day you were here, and the next you weren’t. I can’t remember the last thing we did. I can’t remember the last thing you ate or drank. I can’t remember the last thing you said to me before you left. But I remember what color shirt you were wearing the next time I saw you: black.

I can’t remember the last time you tucked me into bed, or played hide-and-seek with me. I can’t remember the last time we played basketball, or you took me out for a Slurpee. I can’t even remember the last time you took me out, just the two of us. But I remember the sunglasses you were wearing when I got in your car the first time after you left: Maui Jims.

I can’t remember the last time you let me play the claw machine at Denny’s, or the last time you brought me there at all. I can’t remember the last time you brought me to the mall, or bought me $10 of sweets from the Candy Factory. I can’t remember the last time you came swimming, or called me your baby girl. But I remember the song that was playing in your car that day when I buckled my seatbelt in the back: “Butterfly” by Crazy Town.

I can’t remember what we did that day. But I can remember driving back to Mom’s house, the house you no longer lived in. The street lamp was shining yellow and almost all the lights were on when we pulled up. I remember looking at the car door handle reluctantly. I didn’t want to get out.

You looked at me and smiled. My throat closed up a bit. You winked and nodded. You whispered in my ear, “You’ll be okay.” I closed my eyes and hoped I would be. A single tear rolled down my cheek. I held my breath.

I can’t remember when all of this started. I can’t ­remember what I was doing that night, where Mom and I were driving, or how long we were stopped at the red light when the car hit us. I can’t even remember how long it took us to get to the hospital. But I remember the color of the shirt you were wearing when you walked through the emergency room doors: gray.

I can’t remember what you said to me while we were waiting for the doctor, how long it took to get the CAT scan done, or how long my head was pounding. I can’t remember when Grandma arrived or when the nurse put the plastic band around my wrist. But I remember what you were holding in your hand when you walked into my hospital room: your car keys.

I can’t remember the name of the doctor, or how long he spent talking to you and Mom. I can’t remember the TV show that was playing while I waited, or the food the nurse brought me, or when Grandma went home. But I can remember the look on your face when Mom told me I had a brain cyst: there were tears in your eyes.

I can’t even remember what we did that day. I can remember the way you played with my hair, just like you had when I was a little kid. The pounding of my head, the ringing in my ears. The way the cotton sheets on the hospital bed made me itch. I wanted to go home.

You looked at me and smiled. My throat closed up. You winked and nodded. You whispered in my ear, “You’ll be okay.” I closed my eyes and hoped I would be. A single tear rolled down my cheek. I held my breath.

I can’t remember when all of this started. I can’t ­remember when you started dating her, the specific day you sat me down and told me she was pregnant, or the exact day they moved into our house. I can’t ­remember the day you brought home his crib or the day we had his baby shower. But I can remember the day he was born, the day that our lives changed forever: December 19th, 2006.

I can’t remember how long I stayed at the hospital that night, or how long I got to hold him. I can’t ­remember the room number, or the parking space, or what time we got home that night. But I can remember who let me spell his name the way I wanted on the birth certificate: you did.

I can’t even remember how long we talked that night. I remember how you pulled me aside and promised that I was still your baby. You said I would always be your baby girl; it was just that now, he was your baby boy, too. I felt like crying.

You looked at me and smiled. My throat closed up. You winked and nodded. You whispered in my ear, “You’ll be okay.” I closed my eyes and hoped I would be. A single tear rolled down my cheek. I held my breath.

I can’t remember when all of this started. I feel like everything is slipping from my grasp, and I can’t seem to catch up and pick up the pieces. I’m watching you age, and I find myself wondering where the time and my dad have gone. The distance between us seems to grow bigger each passing day. I want to rewind the time and start over. I want my dad back. I want you back.

I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I was going to throw up. You came and knocked on my door to say good-night. You walked into my room, and looked at my pale face.

You asked me the question I’ve been waiting to hear my whole life:

“Chantal, are you okay?”

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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This article has 6 comments. Post your own!

oddball said...
Oct. 28, 2011 at 2:30 pm:
omg thats so sad. it made me cry. i wonder the same thing with my dad all the time too :/
 
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Katey11 said...
Dec. 16, 2010 at 3:02 pm:
This is really good.
 
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Smiley said...
Aug. 22, 2010 at 2:27 pm:

I really really liked this. A lot. You have a lot of talent. I liekd the way it all flowed together, and the way it was almsot lyrical. It read like fiction, in the sense that I felt the suspense  and emotion that many nonficiton pieces lack.

But it was so so real in the way I could feel the true, honest-to-goodness feelings behind the piece.

I can't think of any critiques right now, but one piece of advice: keep writing, and keep on keeping on. My heart is with you.

more »)
 
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Clairepoetry said...
May 6, 2010 at 10:10 am:
I was reading the teen ink newpaper and i saw your article was in this is really well written it caught my attention the whole time and the ending aswell.
 
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PoetLaureate07 said...
May 6, 2010 at 9:58 am:
This is a wonderful...It came from the heart...Please keep writing....Just keep in mind, that you dad probably kept saying that because he didnt want to give you any 'bad hope.' I hope you'll be okay...Please just keep you head held high, and dont let anything get you down...I know exactly what a brain cyst is, and Hunny, God will be there for you all the way!!!!! keep you faith in Him, 'For with God, All  things are possible!!!!!!!'
 
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BethaniThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Apr. 29, 2010 at 6:15 pm:
This is incredible! I'll have to look up what a brain cyst is though. 
 
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