“I search the house everywhere, from the closet to the drawers, but I cannot find him! I’m desperate so I call the police and they come immediately and start asking all sorts of questions. Then they search the neighborhood and ask passersby if they saw my father. None did. I’m hopeless. Scared. Sad. Miserable.”
I still ask my father what my mom was like. It became a tradition to ask him after dinner, but sometimes I want more information. When I was little, my mother died. We called doctors and ambulances, but nothing helped. It happened all of a sudden. Sometimes when I go to sleep I hope it was all a dream, that Mom, Dad, and I are on the couch watching a movie like we used to do. I want everything to be how it used to be, Mom taking me to school, Dad picking me up. Everything. But now it can’t be. One thing can make such a big difference. Now nothing will be the same, nothing.
Dad tells me some things leave a scar, but we have to push hard and stand up to be strong. But I can’t. I’m not strong like my dad. He pushes hard and succeeds, but I am not like him. I am a small mouse that gets stomped on. When I go to school, I have my own bubble, a bubble around me, and the teachers don’t know about this they just focus on math, science, writing, and history. On a good day, I try to make friends, but I never get one.
Today is Sunday and I woke up at 6:34 am. I like to be precise. But today does not feel ordinary. It feels different. The air feels sharper, less calming, like a storm is brewing. I change into fresh clothes and brush my teeth. I’ve gone downstairs to have breakfast when I notice that Dad is not awake. He always wakes up before me. Always. It’s as if he was too tired to be on time. I slowly creep up the stairs again and walk to my dads room, but I think better. He’s probably tired. He did have a long day yesterday, but Dad has days like that all the time. Finally, I decide to wake him up, but he is not there!
I search the house everywhere, from the closet to the drawers, but I cannot find him! I’m desperate so I call the police and they come immediately and start asking all sorts of questions. Then they search the neighborhood and ask passersby if they saw my father. None did. I’m hopeless. Scared. Sad. Miserable. When I walk home, I think about what would happen to me now that I’m an orphan. Will I be in foster care? Even the word sends chills up my spine. As I walk into my bedroom to go to sleep I see a letter on my bed. No address, nothing. I open it cautiously and find a locket, and a letter which says, “Dear Clara, I love you dearly as you know, but times have changed. Things are different. I have gone, but you will be in good hands. I promise Clara. The only way you can be strong is to believe in yourself. Love, Dad.” It has the same loopy handwriting as dads! I’m so relieved to know that he’s still alive! Next, I open the locket and find a picture of me, Mom, and Dad in our favorite park. I remember how much I loved that photo when I was little. Then I begin crying. All of a sudden it just pours out of me and I let it take over and cry myself to sleep.
The next day I skip school. I need time to take in all that’s happened. When I wake up I find another letter lying on my desk! I open it and find a scrap of paper in my dad’s handwriting, but instead of being neat, it’s rushed, as if he was worried or nervous. It says, “Don’t be afraid to believe in dreams Clara. – Dad” I’m so frustrated with him right now! I don’t even remember my dreams! What is he thinking? He knows that! After his last note this one is such a letdown. Then I go downstairs to the kitchen and prepare my breakfast, a bagel with cream cheese and orange juice. I’m munching my bagel when I realize that I never checked the back side of the letter! I race up the stairs and search for the letter, but I can’t find it! I pick up my journal and draw a sad person crying. It has long wavy brown hair, hazel eyes, and freckles, like me. I stare at it, the water from her tears creating the silhouette of my mother. Shocking as it is, the longer I look at the figure the calmer I become. I realize that it’s all a puzzle. The letters are a message to make me strong so I can believe in myself and find Dad. I believe that I can find him and make us a family again. And then it hit mes! He’s right in plain sight where he should be, at home.