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Goodbye to Adios
The girl lay in bed, tossing and turning all night. She hoped that if she didn't fall asleep, tomorrow would never come. She wanted it to stay today forever. She hoped that if she stayed awake, her father wouldn't leave. She didn't want to say goodbye to the man who had meant so much to her throughout her life. Her father had been there for everything. He was there every day when she got on the school bus, to the minute she got off. He spent every possible second with his daughter. Until one day. She knew that date very well, as it was burned into her heart forever. August 18. Her Birthday. And the day she found out something that would turn her world upside down. Forever.
I turn 12 tomorrow. I can't wait. When I turn 12, I want everything a girl could dream of. I am usually good at making lists of things I want, but this year, turning 12 feels like such a special age. I don't want to be greedy, but I want everything one can give me for this special birthday. I made a wish list, but I didn't share it with anyone. I want to see what I get. Nobody seems to know me anymore. It seems that once Mom got her promotion at work, from a simple apothecary to a real true scientist, that I didn't exist anymore. I did to Daddy though. I love him, and he loves me back. He is so kind and nice, and makes really good dinner. I remember the time we both went out for a hike in the woods. One of our favorite things to do together was to go hiking. We got lost tons of times, but we would just laugh and try to find our way out. I would tell stories of our hiking trips to kids in my class, telling them about the time we got SO lost in the woods we had to set up camp with some leaves and a tree branch, and we made a fire with some wet leaves and ate berries, but they didn’t believe me. Nobody seems to see Daddy the way I see him. I see him as a kind, caring, sometimes a little bit crazy, but in the good way. He could turn everything into an adventure. When I was younger, I wanted to be a pirate, after reading Pirates Past Noon by Mary Pope Osborn. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to be a pirate or a reader. I loved reading more than anything. Daddy taught me how to read when I was three and a half. Once he led me into the world of reading, I was hooked. Especially on pirates. He said he would take me out in a boat and we would go and find pirates. And this was no regular boat. It was a full blown huge boat, not some imaginary boat. We sailed around the lake near our house, looking for the pirates. When I told kids at school, they didn’t believe me. They said that no father would bring me out in a boat in the lake and looking for pirates. But my father did.
He uses profane language sometimes, which makes Mom upset, but I don’t care. She thinks dad is eccentric. I think he is exciting. He is always telling me stories of his adventures: the safari he took where the lions chased their jeep for miles, the time he went whitewater rafting down the Amazon River and got stranded in the jungle for 3 weeks, or when he went skydiving, and landed on a deserted island miles from anywhere. I don't know what I would do without him and his stories. Whenever I am sad or upset, he is there. My Mom tries, but she loves her work too much. It seems that all she cares about anymore is work. It is like she is indigenous to the lab; like she was born, raised and planning on dying in her home country. It seems that if she could, she would divorce my Dad, and just marry her work. Mom is a scientist at some big lab. Her job must be important, because she gets paid a lot, which is nice, but it seems like I barely know her. All she is is a scientist who happens to be my mother...
So back to me being excited about turning 12. Dad is baking a cake for it, at least, I think he is. I haven't seen him in the kitchen today. Usually, all he does on my birthday is slave away in the kitchen for hours, baking the most magnificent cake ever. While it is baking, he slips off into the Guest Room where the wrapping paper is, and emerges an hour later when the timer goes off. His arms are filled with presents, expertly wrapped in bright wrapping paper, with bows the size of my head stuck on top. The house is unsullied, not a single speck of dirt or dust anywhere. But this year, something seems to be bothering him. I don't know what it is, but something is not right. Maybe he is just sad that I am growing up. I need to stop thinking like this. It is my birthday in... 2 hours, 5 minutes and 13... 12... 11... 10... 9... seconds. I do need to go to bed soon. I cannot stay up and count the seconds going by. My Daddy used to say when I was little that if you stayed awake all night, the next day would never come. It used to scare me, so I would always try to fall asleep before the Grandfather Clock in my domicile started tolling the midnight hour. I know now that it isn't true, but you can never be too careful.
Faith set down her pen, and slid her diary under her bed. It was the secret place she kept it. She didn’t want anybody to find where she hid her secret thoughts and reflections. She lay there in bed for a minute. Now that she had written about how excited she was about her birthday, she didn’t know if she really was excited. She felt like something bad was going to happen. And when she got a gut feeling, her gut was always right. Prior to this birthday, every birthday had felt so special, but now she didn’t think that this one would be quite as special. She glanced at the clock and sighed. It was late, she needed to go to bed, and just hope that her birthday would be the time of her life, and that nothing terrible was going to happen. She snapped off the light switch, and promptly fell asleep.
The man lay there listening to the soft breathing of Marisa, his 2 year old daughter. He was worried that he wouldn’t be able to take care of her if anything were to go wrong. He looked at the beautiful woman lying next to him. He didn’t know what he would do without her. He looked farther, lying in the corner of their 2 room hut. Next to the fire, lay his other 2 children, beautiful in every way. Sofia was 5, with long black hair, and the most beautiful brown eyes. Next to her, lay her brother Jose. His 8 year old arms were wrapped protectively around his younger sister, whom he adored. Looking around he confirmed that they were all asleep. Slowly, he stood up and tiptoed out to the other room. It was cold in here, as the fire had gone out hours ago. He slowly scanned around the room for his satchel, where he had placed the letter. Finding it by the few pots his family owned, he opened it, and searched for the letter. With trembling hands, he ripped the letter open, and moved over to the door so he could read it with the light from the moon.
I am writing to you from America, land of money! There is so many jobs here, it is unbelievable! My new wife Sarita and I are having the time of our lives here! I met her on my way over here, and married her at a small little church in a town, just before we crossed into America.
I cannot believe that you don’t want to come over here! Sarita and I have a wonderful house, with many rooms for our children. I have found a wonderful job working during the day at a school, cleaning! A school! The school here is bigger than anything you have ever seen before! It is as big as our village at home, with more people than Melochar Ocampo! It is not a very hard job, and it pays well. 9 dollars an hour! That is more than you or I could make selling wood in town in a week! I try to talk to the children there, but they don’t talk back. They push through these long rooms, to rush into other rooms. I have to sweep all of the classrooms after the children leave, and then do something called mopping. I use this broom, and dip it in water, and clean that way. It sounds silly, but it cleans the floor! They have real floors in this school, like Sarita and I do in our house. There are windows and doors, and books, and teachers, and classrooms, more classrooms than all of the surrounding villages put together. The silly thing about these children, is that during lunch, they never seem to eat their food! They throw it at each other, like monkeys! And then they dump the stuff they don’t throw at each other into large buckets!
Sarita got a job working cleaning clothes. She washes clothes, but not by hand! They have these wonderful machines that spin the clothes around! She says it is the most amazing thing to watch!
You need to come here! America is more than you or Dad could ever imagine! Dad always thought that America was a silly place, and that it was really just like Mexico, but it is better that Mexico! It is better than fairy tales! America is where we should all live. Come and join me here! We have room in our house, and you need to get out of that silly little town you love so much. Forget about Mexico! Forget about your silly wife, who hates even the thought of America! Leave them behind, find a new life here. She can raise the kids on her own, she doesn’t need you. There are so many of us Mexicans living here, that you could just move here, and forget about them! Please, actually consider my offer this time.
Andres stared at the letter. He wanted to move to America. But not for the same reason that his brother did. He loved his children. He loved his wife. Emmanuel had deserted his wife Liliana, and his gorgeous 14 year old daughter Vivianna. Vivianna was 8 when her father left, the same age as Jose. He couldn’t imagine leaving his children, just to get new ones. As he sat there, shivering in the cold night air, a plan started forming in his mind. An ingenious plan. One that would change the course of his life, forever.
Faith woke up the next morning, feeling groggy as she had gone to bed much later than usual. She stretched and yawned, and then rolled over, hiding under the blankets, trying to get a few more hours of sleep. After all, today was Saturday. But when she remembered what day it was, she jolted out of bed. Today was her birthday! She dashed downstairs. Her father was bustling around the kitchen, in a mad dash to finish the pancakes.
“Mornin’ Dad!” Faith exclaimed!
“Morning Sweety” her dad sleepy said. He had been up since 5, finishing up the things that he had not been able to do this past week. He had been too busy with other things.
“Where’s Mom? She said she would be home for my birthday.” Faith asked her father.
“Oh, she went to work this morning. I think some experiment went wrong in the lab, and she had to fix it”
“Oh. So it’s just you and me? Again? I think I am going to go outside and read.”
Faith grabbed the first book she saw, and stomped out to the swing outside. She wanted to throw the book after tearing it up into thousands of tiny pieces. Why did Mom always have to be so involved with her work, but never involved in her only daughter? Faith tried to relax and read the words on the page, but her eyes were brimming with tears, the words swimming around the page like fishes in a fish bowl. Her dad stared at her out the window. he knew something was wrong, but what could he do? He didn’t want to upset her more by telling her the other news.
“Don’t worry honey. She will be home soon. Why don’t you go out to the mailbox and get the mail. Maybe that will cheer you up.”
“Fine.” Faith slammed down the book and stomped down the driveway. “It’s not like there will be anything interesting. No one cares about me or my birthday.”
She yanked the mail out, and quickly flipped through them, hoping for a letter from her aunt, or her grandma, or her boyfriend.
“Bills, bills, letter for mom, bills...”
Slowly, a letter drifted down on the driveway. She reached down to pick it up. But when she saw who it was from, she fell to her knees. Her life was about to change. Forever.
Andres knew he had to put his plan in action soon. The weather would turn bad in 3 months, and if he wasn’t ready now, than he would never make it before the cold weather up in the United States. After he had read the letter he had carefully hidden it in his satchel, underneath the wood he was bringing to the market tomorrow. He had carefully gotten back into bed without waking his wife, knowing that there would be questions if she found out he was up at such an early time in the morning. He was going to leave. He had to. He just had to get to America. His family was too poor. And there were schools over there. Real schools, that Marissa and Jose and Sofia could go to, all the way till they were 18 years old. Andres had had to leave school when he was 9 to take care of the family farm, and to take care of his mother after his father died. He hated the thought of leaving them alone, but he had to. His plan was when he went out tomorrow to go and sell wood that he would just keep on walking. He spent the day, instead of gathering wood, but gathering food. He went and talked to Señor Garzia, the pastor at the small little chapel on the hill, to get the blessings he needed. Lastly, he went to his sisters cottage. She was alone because her son and husband were out sweating in the sun working on the fields.
“Paloma? Tu estatas aqui? Are you here?”
“Si brother. Estoy Aqui. I am here. What brings you to mi casa, my house?”
“I am going to America. Following Emmanuel. Por favor Paloma, please Paloma, watch my family. I am worried about them. Emmanuel, he left his family. He doesn’t care about them. But I want to care about them. I could never leave these people who I love so much. But I can’t bear the thought if making Jose leave school, just to have to work in the field with me. Please Paloma, you are my only hope.
Paloma looked at her older brother. He had never begged her to do something this important, never asked her permission to do something. He had always gone to Emmanuel.
“Yes Andres. I will. I will watch them. But you know your sister hates me.”
“Si, I do. But you are my only choice. My only hope. If you don’t help me, than I will never be able to go through with this.”
“I will watch your family, don’t worry hermano. When do you leave?”
“I leave tomorrow. I am all ready. I hope to arrive there soon. I will stay with Emmanuel, until I can find a job and a house. Then, I will send for them. Every one of my children. I will not abandon them like my brother did. I love them too much. “
“Go brother. I will take care of them. I will watch them, and make sure that nothing happens.”
Andres ran home, until he remembered something. He reached into his satchel, and pulled out a single piece of paper and a pen.
I am coming. I leave tomorrow. I will arrive as soon as I can.
Faith rushed into the house, clutching the letters to her chest. She threw them down on the table and ran up to her room, slamming the door behind her closed. Surprised to see the letter she still clenched in her hand, she threw it as hard as should could into the trash, sobbing as she did so. Yanking her diary out from under the bed, she tried to write, tear drops falling from her eyes.
I hate him. Hate him. How could he do this to me? On my birthday? How could a father do something like this to his daughter! I hate him. HATE him. Is that why he hasn’t been around this week? To let me adjust to the pain of him leaving. And... if, he doesn’t come back, then what will I do? I can’t live with my mother. Not without Daddy. She doesn’t even care about me. She doesn’t love me. And now, daddy doesn’t either! How could this happen to me? HOW? How could he hav
Faith jumped at the loud knocking on the door.
“GO AWAY” she screamed at the door.
“Honey, please. We need to talk. Please. Let me in.”
“NO. I don’t want to ever see your face ever again. I hope that when you go away, that you won’t come back!”
There was a silence as both of them were silent, each waiting for the other to make the next move.
“Faith. Listen to me. I need you to tell me what you saw. Please. Please Faith. I want to help you. Please, tell me what’s wrong...”
“You know what’s wrong. You are a horrible father, pretending not to know what is going on. YOU know!” She yanked the letter out of the trash, and slid it under the door. Faith’s father stared at it, trying to make out what the sweaty tear dropped envelope said. He reached down to pick it up, and when he saw what the return address was, he understood why his daughter was so upset. The return address was the Military Office.