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18 letters of winter
It’s January 23, my seventeenth birthday. By now I thought I would have everything I could ever want. Sure I have everything a normal eighteen year old has, expect that one person. The person that left me and my mother when I was only seven years old, he’s my father. According to my mother she caught him cheating on her with another woman. She said that he started coming home late at night; she confronted him, and he denied it all. Time and time again he cheated on my mom, and denied it all. One thing lead to another and before they knew it they were in court for domestic violence, which later ended in a divorce. When people like my mother and father stand at the altar and say their vows. You know for better and worse, for and in sickness and in health. They really only mean for the better, and when worse comes along it’s a race to see who can jump ship first.
The day that dad put his last box of stuff into his car I remember sitting in the living room crying my heart out. I didn’t understand why he was leaving me and mom. Mom was standing at the top of the stairs a smirk of satisfaction on her face. I didn’t understand why mom was just letting him leave like this; didn’t they love each other anymore? Why wasn’t mom stopping dad from leaving? I crawled off the couch teddy bear in hand and moved closer to the window, I looked back up the stairs to see if mom was still standing there, but she wasn’t just another sign that she didn’t care about her family. Dad was still standing by his car, his back turned to me, his hands clutching the door.
From what I could see dad started shaking uncontrollably, it took sometime but the shaking stopped, but anger took its place, as he slammed the door shut and turned to face me. I sat straight up wondering what he was going to do. He walked to the door and I watched him step for step as he made his way back into the entry way. He stopped, sighed and walked towards me arms outstretched. Naturally I ran and jumped into them as any other young girl my age would do. He scooped me up and together we headed outside to sit by the old oak tree we had in the front yard.
The cool November air was softly blowing, making the leaves of the old oak tree whisper their last dying secrets . Dad set me down directly below the spot where we had carved our names when we first moved in. This could only mean one thing dad wanted to have a heart-to-heart conversation. For awhile dad just stood beside me tracing the letters that were carved into the tree with his fingers. After he was done with each of our names, dad slowly ran his hand over it for the last time. He sighed and shook his head; he sniffled a couple times and looked around blinking fast, trying to hide back those invisible tears that secretly I had already seen.
“Daddy where you going?” I asked as he slowly took a knee beside me.
“Well honey, Daddy is going on a short vacation.” He tried to smile when he looked at me.
“Can’t I come? Do you want me to come?” I asked as tears welled up in my eyes.
“No honey you can’t come this time, just Daddy.” The answers were getting harder and harder for him.
“Why not Daddy?” I moved from the comfort of the shade the old oak tree offered to snuggling closer into him. “You just can’t okay!” his voice becoming cold and hard.
Dad had never yelled at me before. He started to get up when I caught his big rough hand in mine. He looked down, and tried to paint a smile on his face, but failed. I wanted to ask him another question, but before I got the chance to my mother was standing in the doorway looking disgusted at the fact that dad was still here. Dad dropped my hand so quickly that it seemed like he forgot that he had a hold of it in the first place.
“Emily, honey, sweetie, go inside the house.” Mom said as she jerked her head towards the living room.
“I want to stay with Daddy though.” I said trying to grab his hand again to show mom just how much I wanted to be with dad.
She rolled her eyes and dad dropped my hand again, leaned against the tree, and crossed his arms staring at the ground.
“No I said get in the house now!” there was no option this time. I did as I was told and reluctantly went back inside the house, making sure to leave the door open just a tad so that I could hear what was going on. Mom and dad started talking about something. I crept closer to the door.
“No Russell, you aren’t going to see her ever again! If you ever put one foot on my property I swear to God that I will call the cops so fast that it will make your head spin. Do you understand me!” She was pointing and wagging her finger at him, that was never a good sign. Dad didn’t say anything for awhile. But then suddenly like a firecracker exploding he let his anger spout colors of red.
“No, you can’t do that, Liz! I am a father to that little girl in there, what are you? You go ahead and call the cops and we will see who they believe. And if we have to go to court for the third time to fight for custody of Emily, I guess that’s what we will have to do then, won’t it! But no matter what you do, no matter what you say I will be part of that little girl’s life. And you can count that I will not miss a second of it.” He was red in the face, but seemed satisfied that he was able to finally stand up to mom after all those years.
“God Russell, do you really think that would be a good thing for Emily to go through?!” She said throwing her hands on her hips. I couldn’t take it anymore sitting there and listing, I had to do something. I opened the door to see dad looking at me.
“What is it sweetie?” he asked his voice had turned honey smooth.
I took a breath looked from dad to mom and then back again. “Daddy … I want to go with you.”
He grabbed my hand and got down on one knee again so that we were eye level.
“Honey I want you to go with me too, but you just can’t. I promise you will see me again someday. I will never let you go, I promise I will never hurt you again. I promise, okay?” He began to shake again and he started to choke on his words.
And then faster than a person could blink, mom had me by my other hand and had started to pull me hard back inside of the house.
“No I want to go with Daddy!” I cried, making the neighbors turn their heads and look our way. “No I want to go with Daddy!” I kept repeating this over and over.
“I won’t let you go, Emily. I will never let you go, I promise!” dad yelled over me and mom, as he fought to hang on to me a little longer.
“Let go of your father right now!” Mom yelled and with one good yank she had me out of dad’s grasp.
“Mommy…..let me go; I want to go with daddy!” Tears were streaming down my face.
“Daddy, help me, you promised me you would never let me go! Daddy, Daddy!” By this time mom was still fighting to get me into the house. Dad was doing nothing to stop her, his hands in his jean pockets, his head held low, kicking at the dirt with his boots. He wouldn’t look at me, he started shaking again. Then he picked his head up again, not afraid to show anyone the feelings that surged through his veins. Mom had given up the fight, and had let my hand go, when I realized this I tried to move back outside towards dad. Every time I did though, mom would put her hand on my shoulder and squeeze hard, so much so that I was getting a fresh bruise on my shoulder each time. Dad locked his eyes intently on moms for the first time, and mom stared back.
“Liz, at least give me the chance to say goodbye.” Tears streaming down his face.
I looked up at mom, she looked back, and gave me a quick smile, and loosened the grip on my shoulder. I ran into my father’s arms again.
“Daddy, don’t go, I won’t play the Cookie Monster song anymore.” I squeezed him harder, and buried my face into his shoulder.
“I know honey, it’s not that. None of this is your fault, you remember that. But I still have to go, and you have to stay here with Mommy.” He rubbed his hand up and down my back trying to comfort me. He sniffled a few times and stood up. He looked at me, a sorry smile on his face, then at mom. Without saying another word, he turned and headed for his car. I lunged for his hand one more time. He stopped and turned, he shook his head, more tears rolling down his face.
“Daddy remember you promised you would never let me go. You promised that you would never hurt me. Remember?” I squeezed his hand again.
“I know honey, and this is me keeping those promises.” He let go my hand as my fingers slipped through his. The next few moments felt like they were in slow motion. Dad let go of my hand, and I felt emptiness inside of me. Dad got in his car, looked my way one more time winked and took off down the road. The tears on my face leaving streaks on my cheeks.
The thunder storm from the west started rolling in. Dark ominous clouds painting the sky dark grey. It had been three minutes since dad had rounded the street corner, but I still gazed down the road, wondering and hoping that he would change his mind and decide to come back. The crackle of the storm was a poor warning, because when the last tear from my eyes fell to the ground so did the rain.
I looked over my shoulder to see if mom was still standing in the door way, again she had suddenly disappeared; she left me alone to stand in the rain, and the puddle of tears that surrounded me. It was not the rain that I was drowning me, but the flood of tears that still remained in me, waiting to poor over. It was not the cold wind that made me shiver, but the loneliness the heart break, that I felt inside of me. Dad was gone and he wasn’t coming back anytime soon. How could my life go from being the best, to all the sudden turn to crap?
“Daddy come back, come back.” Tears and rain streaking down my face as I stood in the rain waiting.
“Daddy come back, come back.”