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Someone Else’s Problem This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By , guilford, VT
I lie under my covers with nothing but the dim light of my phone illuminating the room. I check the time – 2 o'clock. Just as I am ready to give up and go to sleep, the front door kicks in. The slam of the screen door rips me back to consciousness. The smell of liquor and cigarettes rolls into my room. I can finally stop worrying; he made it back. It's 2 a.m. and my father is coming home.

I throw my covers off and walk silently down the hall. In the living room I see him pouring another glass of rum. I'm wondering if tonight will be the night when I intervene, when I tell him no. As a young boy I was absolutely terrified of him, tiptoeing around in fear of being scolded. But I have grown into a man who doesn't care what his father thinks of him; whatever I am is far better than what he has amounted to.

“Hey, Dad, what are you doing?” I ask. When there's no response, I ask a little louder. “Hey, Dad, what are you doing?” Still nothing. Finally I scream his given name.

He turns to face me. “Oh hey dere …,” he slurs, as he turns back to check the fridge for a bottle of Coke.

“Do you really need another drink?” I ask. “It's two in the morning.”

“Eh, I need something to take the edge off,” he explains.

He disgusts me. I don't know how I can let myself worry about him. All he does is put himself in a state where he doesn't have to deal with his problems. Where he doesn't have to think of anyone – anyone but himself. All my life I thought I was the coward, that I was the one who had to grow up. Now that I have, I can see that he was the coward. He was the one who needed to grow up.

He may have tried to stop in the past, but clearly it's going to take something big to make him realize that life is too short. It is too short to spend his days in an inebriated state. Too short to alienate himself from his family so he can sit in self pity. I don't understand how I became the father in this situation, given that I grew up without one.

I retreat to my room, closing the door with a screech and falling into bed. Feeling alone and scared, I pick up the phone.

“Hey, Mom,” I say.

“Why are you calling so late?” she asks. “What's wrong?”

“Dad just got home, and he's practically gone.”

“He's drunk again? I'm sorry. Do you want me to come get you?”

“No, I just wanted you to know. Good night, Mom.”

“Good night.”

I wait until he passes out on the couch to take the half-finished drink from his hand and lay him down. He won't remember any of this, but I won't be able to forget it.

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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