Sitting,wishing, waiting | TeenInk

Sitting,wishing, waiting

May 14, 2013
By Cheekymonkey GOLD, Washington, District Of Columbia
Cheekymonkey GOLD, Washington, District Of Columbia
14 articles 1 photo 20 comments

Favorite Quote:
“If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together.. there is something you must always remember. you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. but the most important thing is, even if we're apart.. i'll always be with you.”


The sky is a medley of shades of oranges and pinks that swirl together like a watercolour painting. I sit on the edge of the dock, my feet dangling into the grey-blue ocean as the sun sets over head. It is the middle of June and the birds circle the sky crying out as if they are trying to tell me something. The water laps against the posts spraying tiny droplets as as it does so. They land on my bare thighs reminding me of the early morning mist. On the horizon a boat comes into view, first small but growing progressively bigger, its white sail billowing in the wind. As I watch the sail boat come towards me I feel a pang of sadness. I don’t know who is on the boat, but I know who isn’t.

My father was an avid sailor, a hobby not uncommon amongst the men of our town. Every Saturday he would wake up and go out sailing before my mother and I had woken up. When I was very little I used to ask to go with him. I believed he travelled to magical places on his sailboat and saw things that only he could see, but that if I went with him I would be able to see them as well. Whenever I asked to go with him on Saturday he would always respond that I couldn’t come along because he needed to be alone. When I heard these words my eyes would well up with tears. I felt rejected. I couldn’t understand why he didn’t want me to come with him. Any other day he would happily help me climb aboard, handing me a life vest and calling me skipper, and as we sailed he hummed, “Sittin’ on the dock of the bay”. Just like the song was ours Saturdays were his. He was gone by the time I woke up and we wouldn’t see him again until sunset.

Saturdays were always the same when I was growing up. My mother would make pancakes and pour us each a glass of orange juice that she made fresh that morning, and we would sit together on the front porch and eat our breakfast. My mother didn’t drink coffee, she couldn’t stand the smell of it and quite honestly nor can I. After breakfast we would go into town and look at the shops and run any errands that needed to be run. My favourite shop was always the antique shop. There was a wooden sailboat that sat in the window, and when the sun hit it at just the right angle it would glisten like a shining star in the night sky. It looked exactly like my father’s boat with its wooden hull, stained a brown so dark it almost looked black. As I looked at it through the window I would dream of the places it would take me. Lunch was always the same as well, grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches, 8 baby carrots and a slice of watermelon. After lunch we would take a trip to the art museum and I would look at the different paintings, inventing stories for each one. My favourite painting was the one I couldn’t tell a story for. It was the giant canvas in the entrance of the modern art wing of the gallery. It had streaks of colour swirling around and melting together, sparking a whirlwind of emotions. I didn’t know what it was about this painting that impacted me so much. All I knew was that whenever I looked at it my mind was filled with a million thoughts. I felt joy and sadness, love and deception, serenity and suffering, all coming together as I looked at the painting. I didn’t understand how you could feel so many things at once. The painting reminded me of an ocean, the waves tumbling about as my father’s sail boat cut through them. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t be with him as he cut through the tumbling waves.

At exactly 5 o’clock my mother would take my hand and we would walk over to the dock to greet my father when he returned. I would stand on the same bench each time and watch as his boat came slowly into view, the setting sun as the backdrop. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. The intensity of the pink and orange sky never ceased to amaze me. I used to imagine that somewhere there was a giant with an enormous paintbrush who would dip his brush into different pots of paint and streak it across the sky. As I saw my father’s boat pass the buoy I knew he was close enough for me to hear me, and I would yell out to him, “Welcome home Daddy!” and begin waving my arms in the air. He would wave back and respond “It’s good to be home my little Skipper”. Then he would pull up to the dock, tie his boat up and we would walk home hand in hand. As we walked he would hum, “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”.

One Saturday when I was 16, everything changed. My mother and I went to stand on the dock as usual and waited for my father to arrive. I no longer had to stand on the bench to be able to see, but I still did because it had become a habit. We watched the horizon looking for that flick of white that meant he was coming into view, but it never came. As the sun sank deeper and deeper into the ground I grew worried. It was unlike my father to be late. He always arrived at the dock before the sun had set completely. It was as if they were having a race, but this time he was losing. When my legs grew tired I sat down on the bench, but I never left the dock. I refused to go home without my father, even when it had grown so dark that I couldn’t see more than a couple of feet ahead of me I stayed. Try as she might, my mother could not get me to leave. Eventually she gave in and brought me a blanket. I thought she was in denial the way she never showed any worry, never shed a tear, now I know that she was doing it for me. She knew my father wasn’t coming back, but she didn’t want to tell me. She thought it best that I come to terms with it in my own way.

I hardly slept that night. I tossed and turned on the bench filled with worry. I didn’t know where my father was, I just hoped he was safe. As I Iaid there our song ran through my head and I remembered all the times my father had danced with me, gently rocking me me in his arms as Ottis Redding sang “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”. The next morning I watched the sun come up tears streaming down my cheeks as I realized that my father was gone forever. He was never coming back. For the first time in my life I understood the painting in the art gallery. All of the chaos, so hard to make sense of. I was a giant mess of emotions. I felt pain and loss at the thought of losing my father, confusion towards my mother for not showing more emotion, and an overwhelming sadness, greater than anything I had ever felt before. Most of all I felt deception. I felt deceived by the sun that had set so beautifully and serenely the night before, even though it had seen my father disappear. I hadn’t seen my father that day, but the sun had. The sun was in the sky when he set out that morning, and the sun was there when he disappeared forever.


The author's comments:
When I was little my dad used to rock me to sleep as "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" played. I wrote this for him because he means the world to me and I never want to lose him.

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