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/ by Naia Watkins

September 25, 2015
Age: 12

I remember my big "Palace" from when I was little. It was so big and the rooms were gold and had pretty chandeliers. Some doors had silver handles, others had pretty gold ones. Outside there were animal statues that looked like big birds and long thick "sticks," as I called them. There were lots of people, mostly people in suits with nice ties. As Daddy would say, "they lookin real fly." All the people there gave me happy looks, some talked to me, others looked at me sadly. I ignored the sad looks. How could someone be sad in a place like this?

"Mommy, why did that man say he sorry for us and that maybe he will be able to see us again?" I asked.

"I…look don't worry about Daddy, he is gonna be fine and Mommy is going to this big room right here and you will stay with Grandpa," my Mom said.

She walked to two wooden doors with gold handles. I stared and wondered if I would ever see something so pretty again. My Grandpa picked me up. I had to see what was in that room. As soon as she opened the door I saw lots of people, and my Daddy was dressed in a blue jumpsuit. When the door closed and I saw the two wooden doors with pretty gold handles I thought, "Will my Daddy come out those two doors with Mommy?"

We were at the palace several more times, and each time Mommy went into the big room while me and Grandpa sat on the ledge by the window and waited. He would try to distract me by showing me the people outside and how tiny they looked. Each day stretched longer than the other, and each day passed without seeing Daddy. I became more worried sometimes, faking that I was sick and had to see Daddy (which worked at school).

On my last day being there, Mommy came out of the big room crying and so did a lot of people, but not all of them were crying. All I saw were tears and tears, and for once maybe Mommy and Daddy were not the strong ones and that made me scared.

"Why are you crying mommy? Please don’t cry, whatever happened me and Daddy can fix it," I said quickly, practically mushing my words together.

That’s when she really started crying, her tears flowing. It didn’t seem it would stop. Her eyes were like salty rivers, or maybe more like a storm. Like mine do when I cry, her eyes turn gray though they’re usually hazel. This made her face look even more depressed than she might have been. Then it hit me… she said it was our last time here, that we were never coming back. So where was my Daddy?

I asked, "Mommy, where’s Daddy? I thought we were never coming back ... is he riding with someone else?" my voice cracking slightly. She stopped crying and looked at me as if someone hit an off switch.

"He... he is not going to live with us anymore, not for a long time." Her voice cracked and she started crying again.

"What? Why? Daddy would never leave us…he would never leave me."

I was so confused, everyone seemed to know what was happening but me. They were leaving me in the dark and taking away my sun. I remember I saw him through those big doors. I ran as fast as I could towards the door, everything seemed to stop. People knew what I was doing and where I was going. But I kept on running and pushed open the wooden doors with the pretty gold handles and screamed one thing: "DADDY I DON’T WANT YOU TO LEAVE ME." I felt my mother grab me. I saw the wooden doors and the gold handles but they were no longer pretty. No one said anything to me, everyone was staring and I heard the whispers that sounded like screams. I felt the pain in my heart that was tearing at my body. I saw the darkness beginning to swallow me up. I wanted to see my Dad, I had to get my sun back.

After my father went to jail, nothing "big" happened with my father. My mom and I kept it a secret so when someone who was not family asked me where my father was, I simply lied.

"He went on a trip for work." " He went to go visit his friend." "He moved to Mexico for his job." After a while people started believing my tales and so did I.

But one day, the week before Father’s Day, is when the teacher and my friends broke me down without seeing it. "Ok, as you know, this weekend is Father’s Day, so I thought we could make cards for your fathers. After all, they do so much for you. They raised you and watch you grow, and even changed your poopy diapers." The class laughed… I think. My ears were ringing and my skin burned like fire.

"What if you don’t have a father? What if you don’t know him?" someone asked. God, I thank that kid for asking that question.

"You don’t need to Ron, I know your father died last year, that goes for anyone else."

I knew very well that cards could be sent to jail, but not everything could be sent. I hated that the teacher held up the clearly handmade paper, with the wire holding the two shiny gold papers together. Wire can’t be sent to jail. So, as she passed the paper and colors out, I pulled out a book and began to read. No one seemed to notice and the teacher did not comment. Someone tapped my shoulder and that is when I knew something from the dark was going to be pulled into the light.

"CC why aren’t you doing one?’’

I knew that I had to tell the truth to my friends. I couldn’t make up an excuse for it, and maybe it was time to face the truth.

"Umm… you guys must keep it to yourself. OK?" In return I got a bunch of head nods. "Look, my dad is in jail so I can’t send him certain stuff and I don’t want to waste my time on something I can’t send. I’m not allowed to tell you guys so I made up a lot of stories."

When I finished I had to gasp for air, I had talked so fast I was surprised that anyone heard me. It was out I couldn’t go back and change that, and I couldn’t say I lied. They know me too well for that.

"How long has he been there?"

"I don’t know how long. Since I was little I guess."

"Do you miss him"?

"Umm yeah... I mean I can go see him."

"Is he a bad person? I mean only bad people go to jail, right? So your father did something that he meant to do so he went jail."

My best friend’s question hit me like a slap to my face and then she added salt to an already open wound.

"Ummmm... ummmmm...yeah I guess he did but that doesn’t mean he is a bad person." I could feel my heart thumping. I mean, I had never thought of him as a bad person. I’ve always known him as father, as the person who wasn’t always there when I needed him, wasn’t there when I turned 13, wasn’t there when I came home upset, and wasn’t there when I wanted to cry. But he wanted to be, and that is all he needed to, is to want to, because if you want you can reach a goal.

"That doesn’t...I mean everyone does something a little stupid once in awhile." My voice was shaky, I didn’t even realize I was close to tears.

"I mean yeah, but I don’t do stupid stuff that gets me into jail. Anyway who would do something without thinking about it first? Not only that, you still talk to him right? He could be a bad influence for you, as a friend I personally think that you should cut all ties with him." Her voice suddenly sounded like something slowly rotting.

"Ok Rebaca let’s just leave it at that" I whispered.

She must not have heard me, but I’m pretty sure even if I spoke in a whisper, my voice was clear and all my other friends began to walk away.

"What are you gonna do when your father comes home? It will be like getting a lost pet back I guess," Rebaca said in a sweet voice that was very much forced.

"Is your father bad Rebaca?" I could hear the anger and sudden pain in my voice. "He’s not even part of your life is he? He left you and your mother, so we both got bad dads but I at least know where mine is. Also, I seem to remember you crying yourself to sleep because you wished you could talk to him LAST WEEK." I was standing now. I could see her eyes get watery and I didn’t want to take it back. I wanted her to feel the pain she just caused me. I thought I felt hate on the day my dad left, but now I felt hate in a burning intensity. Her eyes seemed to become darker. The kind you're scared will swallow you up. I had never seen this in my friend. The one who I trusted the most. What she did next surprised me and the whole room.

She stood on a chair and screamed, "Hey everyone CC’s dad is in jail and she been tellin’ lies to us." Everyone just stopped and stared, and I felt myself get real dizzy, all the hate turning to something else. I heard the teacher say something, but I’m not sure what. I was already out the door and running. I heard the whispers and saw the darkness. The wind in my face was making me feel sick. I ran all the way to the back where the gate was open. I looked at my watch, school was almost over. Kids and parents will be flooding these gates, I thought. So I ran and didn’t stop to see where I was.

When I finally stopped, I was at a park a long way from school and a short way from home. It was almost dark, and lone stars started to show. I sat on the swing thinking about the things that happened in my past about my dad. It seemed as if everything that had happened had something to do with him, it always came back to him.

I knew people would be looking for me just as I looked for my Daddy when I was little, always looking to see who was at the door or whose house we were at. So, I sat on the swing for a long time thinking about my Dad, every big moment to now. I knew that when my Dad came home it would be a happy day and that everyone would be smiling. No one wanting to look at the past, only to the future. But, would I want to? Would I forget that once Daddy was a bad man that was stolen from me by the wooden door with gold handles and wasn’t all that pretty anymore? Would I want to forget the whispers or the pain in my heart? I knew I would be going to school and the whispers would follow, and the darkness would devour me like fire devours wood, maybe… but maybe, my sun would burn the whispers and fight the darkness away. I guess everything can’t be answered. I guess there are some parts of your life where there will always be pain. But you won’t get a gray storm without the sun coming right after.

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