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The gun shakes in my hand as I point it at the man whose blood runs through my veins. All I have to do is pull the trigger, but something freezes me in my spot. Without this man my family can’t be complete. I need a father and my mom needs a husband. I take a deep breath and try to steady my hand. He’s saying something to me, but all I hear is a fast paced thump. Thump thump thump. I’m startled to learn that it’s my heart that’s making the sound. He takes a small step toward me and I take one back in return. Finally, I start hearing his words.
“Come on Timothy. You know you don’t want to shoot me. We can be a family again. I’m sorry that I haven’t been there for you, but I’m willing to forget this little incident and come back home as your dad”. Tears are streaming down my face and I do nothing to stop their flow. I shake my head. I nod my head. Emotions swirl around me. Anger swims past me. Surprise sprints in circles around me. My head is stuffed full of cotton balls. I don’t know what to do. Or say. Or even think. He takes another step forward and this time I stand my ground. Through the fog I hear one word that steadies my head.
“Timmy,” she says with sorrow in her voice. That one word from my mom jolts me back into my body before releasing me back to where this all started.
“Hurry up Timmy. You’re going to be late to school”.
“I’m coming Mom,” I reply with a grunt. I run out of my small bathroom to find clothes to wear. I spy a pair of jeans that aren’t too dirty and an old gray T-shirt with holes along the seam. I quickly tug them on and race down the hall of our small, but modest two bedroom apartment.
“Come eat,” my mom says without looking up from her old and tired computer. I sit down and eat my fruity cereal and wonder what she is working on now. My mom is a writer. She loves to write about the adventures she would go on if she never had me at the age of 16. She never says that I’m the reason she didn’t go parading through a rainforest in the Amazon or swimming with dolphins in the Caribbean, but I know better. She had plans for after high school, but then she had me. I know I have a dad somewhere in the world, but she won’t tell me who he is or why he left us. I guess I’ll never know. “What are thinking about Timmy?” she asks. I shrug. She takes her eyes off her latest adventure and asks me again, “What is wrong Timothy?” I look up from the bowl of my now mushy cereal.
“Why won’t you tell me about my dad?” I ask. She freezes. Her eyes go distant like I’ve seen her do many times when she thinks about the man who left her to raise her child alone. She looks down and says,
“Please don’t ask me that. I don’t want to speak of that man.”
“Why not? You never do and I’m 13 now Mom. I’m curious.”
“I said no.”
“WHY!?” I scream. She stops typing on her computer long enough to glare at me.
“Don’t use that tone with me young man. I don’t want to talk about him and I don’t know if I ever will. So please just drop it,” she replies with anger at first, but ending in sadness. A tear slips down her cheek. She wipes it away roughly and practically flies out of the kitchen and into her room, slamming the door after her. I put my bowl of uneaten cereal into the sink and walk towards her room. I hesitate in front of the door. I’m about to knock, but I hear her sobbing through the door. I walk past and head into my room to grab my backpack for school.
“Bye Mom,” I say as I open the front door and start my long walk to school.
I walk past Mrs Greenfield’s apartment. She’s the nicest lady in the entire universe. I don’t know her age because she’s reminded me many times never to ask a woman her age. She has short gray hair that once must have been brown. Her husband died 17 years ago. I don’t know how because I’ve never asked. I can tell it causes her pain to think about. She always helps me with my homework when my mom is too busy. She even bakes these chocolate chip cookies that are to die for. She’s lucky. She’s done with school. I wish I didn’t have to go to Fielding Middle School. The people there are jerks and snobs. They look down at me whenever they can just because I live in an apartment and not some rich mansion like they do. I’m about to walk into the school when Dave, my own personal bully, comes right up to me.
“Hey Timmy. How’s the apartment? Is your dad still gone because of your freak of a mom?”
“Don’t you dare talk about my mom that way,” I said. Red mist covers my vision and I’m vaguely aware of Dave responding to me, but I don’t care. I quickly turn around and head in the opposite direction of the school. There’s no point in going to school. It’s not worth it. I walk the quick walk to the park and sit down on the swings. The swings are my favorite part of the park. They can make you feel as if you’ve traveled so high without you ever having to leave the park. I spot a police car passing by and I rush to hide in the covered slide. Today will be long because I can’t get spotted skipping school, but it’s definitely worth it.
I’m walking home at an appropriate time, so my mom doesn’t know I skipped school. I feel lighter already knowing I didn’t go to school today and I got away with it. I hate Dave. His life mission is to my life miserable. I’ve got enough to worry about without him ruining my life. I cross the street to reach my apartment and quickly hop over the short fence instead of going through the gate. “Stop that young boy. You can’t just hop over any fence willy-nilly. There’s a gate for a reason,” Mrs Bird yells. She is always out to get me. All she ever does is watch for kids to slip up, so she can report us to our parents. I just keep on walking past her and can hear her yelling some more at me. It doesn’t matter what she says. Won’t change my mind. I’m walking up to my door when Mrs Greenfield says,
“How are you Timothy dear?”
“You be kind to your mother, you hear?”
“Of course I will.”
“Great. I’m here if you need me.” She goes back to feeding her two parakeets on the front porch and I walk into my home with a sudden feeling of dread. Only I don’t know why.
I walk past the kitchen and into my room where I drop off my backpack and slouch down on my unmade bed.
“TIMOTHY! Get in here right now!” Uh-oh. That sounds a lot like my mom and even more like an angry mom. I shuffle into the kitchen where she’s sitting at the table. “Sit.” I sit silently without making eye contact. “Can you explain why your principal calls me to say that you weren’t at school today?” Anger courses through me. That little weasel Dave ratted me out.
“What does it matter to you?” A look of shock flickers across her face before it turns to anger.
“It matters to me because that tells me you’re skipping school.”
“Sure,” I said.
“I am your mother and you will treat me with some respect young man! You better have a good reason for skipping school or I will ground you for six months.”
“SIX MONTHS!? Six months? How cruel are you? I would never have done it if you had just told me who. My. Dad. Is.”
“We have had this conversation before Timothy. I do not wish to talk about your father.”
“Why? I just want some answers. Why did he leave us? Why hasn’t he come back for me?”
“Go to your room! I don’t want to see you or hear another word from you until you calm down.”
“Fine. Send me away. I don’t need a mother like you.” I stomp through the house and retreat into my room, slamming the door behind me. “ARGH!!!” I scream into my pillow and can hear my mom doing the same in her room. I get up and trash my room. I throw this and that. I rip this poster and smash this lamp. My mom pokes her head in and says,
“I’m going out to clear my head. When I get back we can talk, but only after you’ve cleaned up your room.” She then leaves and when I hear the front door close I lose it all over again. Looking for more stuff to throw I leave my room and go into her room. I throw her pillows and comforter off the bed and flip her mattress onto the floor. I stop when I see a box under her bed. It must be her memory box. In another fit of anger I hurl it across the room and into a wall. It smashes and items big and small fall out. One of them catches my eyes. It’s a thick book. At first I don’t know what it is, but then it hits me. It’s her high school yearbook. My mom met my dad in high school. Maybe he’s in there. I sit down on the floor and flip through the yearbook. I come across the yearbook club page. She was in the yearbook club, so she must be somewhere on this page. It has candid photos of everyone on the team, including my mom and another boy her age. He has curly blond hair and bright blue eyes. They’re both staring into each other’s eyes and it’s then that I know that he is my father. How did I not see the resemblance at first? I look at the whole page, searching for his name, but getting nothing. I’m feeling dejected until I remember that I’m holding a yearbook. He’s bound to be in here somewhere. I flip furiously through the hundreds and hundreds of pictures. In my rush I accidentally tear out a page. I pick up the page and glance at it when I see something that makes me stop. I see the mirror image of me, except a few years older. I scan the page and spot his name. Blake Silberman. His smiling face chills me to my very bones. I drop the book and sprint to the kitchen table where I know my mom’s computer is. I open it and pull up a search engine. I put in his name, but nothing showed up. Banging my head on the table starts my brain up again. I can’t just search his name. I need to include other information. I type in Blake Silberman, 29 to 30 years old, Franzen High School. It loads at a snail's pace with a snail who is frozen solid. The rainbow circle that spins pops onto my screen. Ugh! That rainbow circle is going to be the death of me. Finally, it disappears and the search results pop up. I scroll through and stop when I see a picture of Blake, but much older. I click on the website and it opens up to a realtor’s website with his name printed on top in big, bold letters. Blake Silberman Is the Man You Need To Help You Find Your Dream Home! I can’t believe it. He left us and has become this rich and important man. Didn’t he want us? Didn’t he want me? I write down his phone number and sit in anger waiting for my mom to come home.
She walks in as I’m sitting on the living room couch.
“I’m sorry Mom,” I said.
“No, I should be the one who is sorry. I overreacted and I shouldn’t have yelled at you. I know how hard it is not knowing who your father is, but I’m just not ready to discuss him with you.” I don’t want her to know that I know who he is, so I play along.
“I understand Mom. I shouldn’t have pushed you, but— I just—.”
“Go on. Say it. I’ll listen. I’ll try not to get mad,” she said.
“I just feel as if I have a hole in my heart because I don’t have a dad. Everyone else has a dad, but I don’t.” A tear slips down my cheek and I’m too tired from tearing the rooms apart to brush it away. My mom walks up to me and brushes my tear away for me and says,
“I know it’s hard not to have a dad, but you don’t have to have one to have a complete family. It may be a nice addition, but we’re already a family. Even Mrs Greenfield is your family. See, you don’t have to have a dad to make a complete family.”
“I know that, but then why is there still a hole in my heart that can only be filled by him?”
“I can’t answer that question for you. All I know is that you’ll most probably always have that hole there, but if you try and let other people in, then that hole might shrink and became smaller and more bearable. Think about it while you clean up.” She then walks to her room to lay down, but pokes her head out and says, “Come in here and we’ll clean it up together.” I nod and join her in her room and we clean together in comfortable silence.
The next day isn’t as tense as I thought it would be. My mom mutters a good morning, but she no longer seems angry. I walk to school and decide to make my mom proud and never skip again. The look on her face last night was horrifying because all I saw was disappointment in me. I don’t want her thinking she’s doing a bad job raising me. As I near the school, Dave saunters up to me and looks me up and down.
“How’s the mom Timmy?” he sneers. I try to walk away, but he grabs my arm. Everything I’m holding in from our encounter yesterday just spills out of me.
“Why are you such a pest? My mom is the most wonderful and loving mom to ever walk this planet. She’s caring and always believes in me. I’m sorry if your mom ignores you at home, but that gives you no right to disrespect mine.” I walk quickly through the school’s front entrance and into my first period. I know I shouldn’t have pulled that up about his mom, but I couldn’t help it. I’ve seen them around town and can see how she ignores him. I’m not looking forward to whatever’s going to happen next. This is going to be a long day.
I pull out the slip of paper with my dad’s number on it when I sit down at an empty computer in the nearly empty library. I told my mom I needed to study at the library. It’s not a complete lie. I am studying. Just not for school. The computer wakes up from its long hibernation and hums as if yawning. I pull up the same website as yesterday and scan through it, looking for any more useful information. I find a few houses listed that he’s offered to show those who are interested and an idea sparks to life. If I could call my dad, posing as an interested buyer, then I could confront him and ask him to come back. I look through the houses for sale and spot one only 20 minutes from the apartment. I get my phone and dial his number, but freeze before I can actually press the call button. What if he doesn’t want to come back? What if he laughs in my face as he leaves again? My mind swirls with all these questions and I can’t think straight. Finally, I discard all the questions in my mind and hit call. It rings for eternity before a deep male voice cuts through.
“Uh...is this… uh..Blake Silberman?” I ask. I make sure to deepen my voice because I don’t want to sound like a kid.
“Yes it is. To whom am I speaking to?”
“This is Ti—Tyler Sparrow. I was interested in viewing the house on Hollander Street. Is that possible?”
“Of course my good sir. We can arrange that right now. Does Friday at 2:30 work for you?” He asks. I hesitate. Friday is only two days away and I would still be in school at that time.
“Su—sure. Friday works, but I have sch—work at that time. Could we do 5:00 instead? That is of course if you’re lovely family wouldn’t mind me keeping you so long.”
“I can definitely do that time and don’t worry about the family. I’m not really that type of guy.”
“Great. See you then.” I say before ending the call quickly. That was a close one. For a minute I’m silent, but a smile creeps up onto my face. I just did the impossible. I talked to my dad and he had no clue. Now I only have to think up a plan before my two days are up. A plan starts forming as I pack up my school supplies and head out the door.
It’s Friday and I’m walking swiftly towards the house I’m meeting my dad at. I check my backpack and feel the outline of the gun I stole from my mom. For as long as I can remember, she’s had the gun. I walk with my head down, so I don’t trip on the uneven ground. My feet are just beginning to hurt when the house appears in my view. I can see him standing on the driveway talking into his phone. A red convertible sits in the driveway next to him. I walk past the house and over to the next one. I need time to calm down because inside I’m freaking out. I need him to come back to us, so we can be a family. I pull the gun out and walk casually towards him.
“Hello. Have you seen a man arou—,” he freezes mid sentence when he sees the gun in my hand. “I have money. Whatever you want.”
“I don’t want your money. I want you to come back to us.”
“Come back to you? What are you talking about? Do you need some help?”
“No! I need my dad.”
“Your da—.” He looks at me carefully and his eyes open wider when he finally sees it. “You’re Timothy right?”
“How do you know my name?”
“Your mom told me what she was going to name you back when she was pregnant.”
“Why aren’t you with us? Don’t you know that our family isn’t complete. Mom and I need you.”
“I think you need to speak to your mom about this.” I raise the gun and take the safety off. He knows what I’m doing. His breath comes in quick gasps and his hands are shaking. He’s talking to me. He says that I don’t want to do this and that we’ll be a family again, but he lies. I can see it in his eyes. My finger hovers over the trigger when I hear my mom call my name. The spell that holds me breaks away and I fall to my knees in tears. My mom comes to me and pushes the gun away. She wraps me in a warm hug. I smell her lavender perfume and try to take deep breaths. I don’t see my dad go, but when I look up, he’s gone. My mom pulls me into her car and she drives us home.
We walk into the apartment and sit on the couch. I know I’m in huge trouble.
“Timmy? We have to talk,” she says. I nod and giver her my full attention. “I think it’s time for you to know the whole story between your dad and I.” I open my mouth to speak, but she holds a finger to my lips. “Don’t speak yet. Promise me you won’t speak until I’ve finished.” I nod. “Okay then. Here goes.”
“I was 16 when I fell in love with your dad. We went everywhere together and were always laughing. It was great times. After dating for six months, I became pregnant with you. At first I was scared, but then just the thought of you gave me the confidence I needed to tell Blake about you. We went out for a nice dinner and we were walking through the park when I told him about you. He was shocked and demanded that I get an abortion. I knew already that you were my world. I told him no and he slapped me across the face, while calling me names for five minutes straight. I ran home in tears and cried my heart out. My mom found out about it all the next day and she agreed with Blake. I was so angry at her that I ran away from home that night and slept on the streets for months. One day a woman was walking by and she saw me huddled against a trash can holding my stomach in pain. I was having contractions and was scared. I didn't know what to do. She helped me up and took me to the closest hospital and payed for everything. She was actually the first person to hold you. We named you Timothy after her late husband that she loved very much. This lady was Mrs Greenfield from next door.”
“Mrs Greenfield?!” I said.
“Don’t interrupt. I’m almost finished. After I was released from the hospital, she took us in. I stayed with her until you turned two. By then, I had earned enough money to afford a small apartment and it just so happened to be the apartment next to hers. Your father found me and asked for forgiveness, but I couldn’t grant him it. He had betrayed me in the worst way. If I had listened to him, then you wouldn’t be here Timmy. He finally left me alone and I was happy. I raised you and Mrs Greenfield helped a lot too. Don’t take her for granted. She’s probably the best grandma you could get. Even if she’s technically not your grandma. That’s my story. From start to finish.” My mouth hangs open and hits the floor in shock. Some stray tears are one her face, but there are happy tears.
“I do have two questions for you. Where did my dad go today? After you showed up?”
“I gave him my best mom look to get him to go away. He knows my decision to raise you on my own and he respects it as much as he can. I’m sorry that you have a hole in your heart that can only be mended by him,” she said.
“Also, how did you find me today?
“Oh, that was easy. A word of advice Timmy. If you’re going to be sneaking around, then clear your internet search history.” We both laugh at that when a knock was heard at the front door. I motioned for my mom to stay where she was at and opened the door to see Dave standing there. He’s shifting on his feet and keeps looking around, never settling on me for too long.
“Can I speak with you outside for a minute?” He asks. I nod and close the door behind me. He holds up a hand before I can speak. “I want to apologize for the way I’ve been treating you. I should never have made fun of your mom. The fact is, I’ve seen you and your mom at the park together and I got jealous. My mom doesn’t know I exist. I know you probably won’t forgive me, but I needed to get it off my chest.” I stare at him with eyes as wide as dinner plates. I’m about to send him running when I remember that my mom said about letting people into your heart.
“I forgive you Dave.” He smiles and it reaches all the way to his eyes. “Why don’t you come in? My mom would love to meet you.”
“I would love to! Thanks.” We both walk in and I tell my mom,
“Mom, this is my friend Dave.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you Dave. Welcome to our home. It's not much, but we’ve got lemonade and chocolate chip cookies.”
“Sounds great ma’am,” he replies.
“Call me Sara.” They both walk into the kitchen when I hear the door open and Mrs Greenfield say,
“Did I hear someone say lemonade and chocolate chip cookies?” I laugh.
“Of course. Would you like some?” I ask.
“Always and forever Timmy. Always and forever.” She gives me a quick hug and walks into the kitchen to greet my mom and Dave. I stand in the doorway and when I see them all together all I can think is that I finally have found my family. It may not be the perfect family, but we’re family. I’ll always have a hole that only my dad can fill, but today it shrunk down to a bearable size and I forget about it for the time being as I join them in the kitchen. We drink lemonade and eat chocolate chip cookies. Laughing and creating memories as a family should.