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Paying Daddy’s Debt(3)

By:Alexa Riley



As I close my textbook I feel confident that I’ll pass finals. Not that it really matters much. Even if I fail them, I’ll pass all my classes. It’s not like I plan on going to college anytime soon, so my GPA doesn’t mean much to me. But something inside me won’t let me give up and I have to do my best. I wonder if that’s something I got from my mom. Because I know full well I didn’t get it from my father. He can barely keep a job, and I wonder how he even pays the bills. Or where he finds all the money he ends up gambling away.

I climb off my small bed and walk over to the open window. I’m happy that my father still isn’t home. Sometimes he brings friends with him and they sit and drink in the kitchen for hours playing cards. They make me uncomfortable, even being a floor up and away from them. One stumbled into my room drunk once, causing me to have a panic attack. I don’t know who freaked out more, him or me. But that thought that someone could so easily get into my room was unsettling. I haven’t slept well since that night.

I know when he gets here I’ll have to shut the window. Leaning out, I feel the wind hit my face and I smile. Spring has always been my favorite time of year. I can sit outside for hours and not have to worry about getting too cold or hot. It’s perfect. When I’m outside, I feel like everything is okay and my mind calms.

I don’t remember the accident, but some deep part of my brain must. I only know what I’ve been told. I was trapped in a car for ten hours while emergency services had to saw the car in half to get me out. I was only four at the time. It was hours before they found the car with me and Mom inside. Her car slid down a hill after hitting a patch of ice. They said she died on impact.

Tears fill my eyes as I think about the woman I can’t remember. I can only wonder what she was like. How could she have even been with a man like my father? Even if it was only a fling. My father has said before I’m a lot like her, and I know for certain I would never be with someone like him. I don’t understand. Or maybe that’s why he said it. She wanted nothing to do with him and neither do I.

I can’t remember anything before waking up in the hospital alone. Child services stood over my bed. No one had any idea what to do with me. They tracked down my father, who took me in. But I still don’t understand why. I have a feeling it has something to do with his own father, who was rich. I’d met him once when I was five, after he’d put me into a fancy private school. I think the reason my father took me in was because I was a ticket for him to get back in with his own father. He died soon after, but my schooling had been paid for.

He must have left my father some kind of money, because for a brief moment my father went on a little bit of a shopping spree. But he burned though it eventually with his gambling. All the things he bought he slowly sold off to further his addiction, leaving us with nothing in a run-down apartment.

All I know is, after the accident, I can’t stand being crowded in, feeling that I might be trapped with no place to go. It’s suffocating, and my father thinks letting me keep the windows open is coddling me. The man has never coddled me in my life, so the thought is laughable. Maybe it is only hurting my progress, but what does it matter if I want the stupid window open? As if he cares about it at all. Or if he does, he has an odd way of showing it. Or maybe I am like my father, because I have no feelings for him either. When I leave here I will never look back or try to make contact with him. He will just be a person who was in my life for a period of time and nothing more.

When I hear the front door, I lean back inside and close the window, trapping myself inside. Taking a deep breath, I turn and go over to my backpack, pulling out the money I made from helping Mrs. Joyce today.

I think she’ll be the only person I’ll miss when I move. I told her I was worried about who would help her when I was gone, but she simply gave me a kiss on the cheek and told me she had it handled. I pull open the bottom drawer of my night stand and freeze when I see my little wallet is gone. Panic wraps around my throat, and I drop my hands on the table in front of me, unable to move. I try to work air into my lungs, but my chest only tightens.

Tears fill my eyes and run down my face. It’s gone. Everything I’d planned has been taken from me. When I hear my bedroom door open, I turn to see my father standing there. His cheap suit looks more worn than normal. He looks tired, like someone took a few swings as him. A bruise on his right cheekbone is new, and his lip is split.

“There a problem?” he asks, a hint of humor in his voice. He’s looking for another fight. I won’t give him one. I’m not sure if I have the will to argue in this moment.