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A Father Lost This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     He sacrificed everything. He left his wife, his kids, and his life. He left me. He had been there by my side since I was two. He doctored my scraped knees and comforted me when my first boyfriend dumped me. He hugged me when I cried and tended to me when I was ill. But he left anyway. He gave it all up, piece by piece. He was supposed to be my dad. Eventually he just stopped being anything he ever was.

He changed slowly, first with his attitude toward us. Then he started leaving for work on Fridays and not returning until days later. After a while he stopped making up excuses as to where he had been. He just quit telling anybody anything.

He had been distant and cold toward us for three months and was picking fights with my mom over everything. He not only pointed out anything he found wrong, but drove it into the ground. His shirts not being hung correctly and Mom’s truck using two spots in the driveway were just the tip of the iceberg. And it didn’t stop with Mom. If my younger sister didn’t say, “Yes, sir” when he asked her a question, she was reprimanded. I was disrespectful if I pointed out he was yelling when we were trying to sleep. In his mind we were the problem, and he didn’t let us forget.

In the fall of my junior year he brought our family to a screeching end. We were at a Halloween party and he showed up with alcohol on his breath and anger in his eyes. He was mad at my mom for everything she did and didn’t do. She decided to head home to deal with it.

At home we all went in different directions. He and my mom went around back and I went into the bathroom to take off my elaborate Halloween makeup. My sister sat on the edge of the bathtub, watching me. I tried to shut out the angry shouting coming from the yard. I looked at my sister, who glanced down. Her tears were somewhat masked by the hair that curtained her face.

Then a shot rang out and we jumped. My stomach was in my throat from the surge of fear. A scream and a faint sob came from the backyard. My sister stood behind me, shaking. What could I do? I was 16, dressed in my Halloween costume. My stomach lurched as if I were going to be sick. I decided I had to do something, but then my sister began to cry even harder. I sent her next door to our neighbors.

I rushed out the back door onto the deck as another shot rang out. Wood splintered below my feet. I hurried down the stairs to face him. He was standing in front of my mom, who was shaking and crying. The nine-millimeter was aimed at his temple. Mom had collapsed to the ground, crying, still in her white Halloween outfit. At least there wasn’t any blood. He was screaming something that I can’t remember.

“Go next door, Mom. We’ll be there in a second,” I tried to say calmly. After some of my convincing and a lot of screaming and him throwing things, she left. He fell to the ground and began sobbing with the cold, black metal lying next to his knee. I was alone with him.

I crouched down so I was next to him. He sat there and mumbled, bleary-eyed and drunk. I don’t remember what I said or what he said. I can still feel my eyes pouring tears. I can still see myself begging him to go inside to calm down. That October night chilled me to the bone; my costume wasn’t much protection against the cold wind, and the stark situation that faced me didn’t help.

He suddenly jerked out of his blubbering state and became wide-eyed as he realized he couldn’t stay there. Even in his inebriated state, he knew he was in trouble. He staggered to the house, looking for the keys he had thrown at my mom minutes earlier. He was crying again as he searched for them. The phone rang and his cry of anger and frustration still haunts me today. The rage and tears that had flowed just moments before were gone as he politely responded “Yes, sir” and “No, sir.” I was dumfounded by this change. Then he began stumbling up the stairs and turned to me before he reached the door and covered the phone.

“Take this and hide it or you’ll be going to jail too,” he instructed, placing the weapon in my hands. Then he shuffled out onto the front porch, still talking on the phone. I was baffled by him and the whole situation. I knew I wouldn’t be going to jail, but I hid the gun anyway so he wouldn’t be able to find it. I hurried to the door he’d just walked out of and looked out. He was gone. I ran upstairs to grab my cell phone and call my neighbor to make sure my family was okay. She told me to get to her house immediately, and I bolted out the door.

Police dogs barked and growled as I raced across my lawn to the neighbors’ house. Flashlights focused on me from all different directions. A man’s voice told me to stop where I was, but I didn’t until I ran into my neighbor. She hugged me and held me as an officer approached. My mom and little sister dashed from the back door and enfolded me in their arms. I cried into their shoulders, recounting the incident. I couldn’t help but tell them of my bewilderment over the phone call. My mom explained that it was the police trying to convince him to get out of the house and away from me. I was their first priority, and they had orders to take him out if he became threatening in any way.

I vaguely remember talking to an officer about everything that happened. I remember sitting on my couch with the tears flowing as my mom rubbed my back. I remember my mom trying to help me through my fear by telling me, “He’s not coming back, I promise you. We won’t have him back.” After that I can’t bring to mind much else except lying on the couch next to my mom. The police traced his cell phone; he was outside, hiding in the woods and talking to his girlfriend. Not long after, they found him and knocked him to the ground. We watched from a window as they put him in the police car. He had cuts all over his face and arms from the bushes. The officer told us that he was lucky they didn’t release the dogs. They hauled him away, leaving us with a protective order against him.

He hasn’t come home since. It’s been over a year and a half. My sister has seen him once, but I haven’t seen him at all. I did what I thought I had to do for him and for my family, but now we are all paying the price. I’ve learned that he doesn’t care about me or my future. I’m nothing but an expense to him.

Even today he tries to wreak havoc on us any way he can. He pumps my sister for information and sends nasty emails to my mom, telling her what an awful mother she is. I’ve received nothing except a note addressed to both my mom and me saying that he’s not going to pay anything toward my college education - though he’ll pay for my sister’s. It was just one more way for him to yank the carpet out from underneath us. Unbeknownst to him, however, I’ve been accepted to a college I can afford and received a great scholarship.

The pain he caused made me stronger, yet he fails to realize that I’m no longer his daughter. He won’t receive a graduation invitation or be asked to walk me down the aisle at my wedding. That is a role reserved for a father, which he no longer is to me.


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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Elana F. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 1, 2009 at 10:34 pm:
oh wow. this rlly makes me appreciate my dad.
 
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