Before It All
I stared at myself in the oval, floor length mirror that sat against my painted blue bedroom wall. I looked at every inch of my body, and wondered why so many people thought that I was beautiful. I had dark brown shoulder length hair that half the time, had a mind of its own. My emerald green eyes traced the freckles that led from the bridge of my nose to the outer parts of my cheeks. My tanned skinned revealed the fact I spent a lot of time out under the sun. The part I hated most though, was my skinny, boney frame; I could never really gain much weight if I wanted to.
My reflection stared back at me with a disgusted look on its face. What do people see in me? I’m nothing special. I am just an eighteen-year-old girl who is just here on the earth. I am far from special.
My bedroom door flew open and in ran my little sister.
“Come on Amanda, we’re going to be late!” She practically yelled at me, throwing me my car keys.
Every Friday night was family dinner at the Italian restaurant in the small little town of Adams, Nebraska. I never really liked this town. Everyone knows everyone, and no matter what you did or how secretive you were about; it was bound to be tomorrow’s news. Ever since I was little, I have dreamed about the day I finally get to leave this place I call ‘home’, but something has always held me back from leaving.
I snapped back to reality when Kaylie hit me in the face with one of my pillows.
“Let’s go!” Her high pitched voice nagged.
“Okay, okay.” I grabbed my keys and purse and off we went.
Tonight was the night I get to see my dad again for the third time in my life. He was never around much when I was growing up, but now that my older sister, Elizabeth, is getting married he wants to be a part of the family. I have never really cared much for my dad, but what kid would? He walked out on my mom when Elizabeth was three, and I was just a few months old. He said he had ‘better things to do with his life’; getting drunk every night doesn’t sound like a great life to me.
According to my mom, the story went totally different; then my dad just walking out on her. She says that he walked out due to the pressure kids put on him, and that he wanted his freedom. Well he got his freedom alright, but he still hurt a lot of people in the process. I don’t think my dad is the best guy out there, and I know no one is perfect, but hey, he left my mom when she had two kids. My mom will jump to his defense no matter what though; I mean she still loves him despite the hurt he put her through. She’s been strong, and she’s raised us kids well too. My dad on the other hand, he isn’t worthy of being apart of my life.
I parked in front of the little Italian restaurant and took a deep breath. Tonight was the night; I was going to tell everyone I got accepted to Stanford University. It is 1,400 miles away from this place and that still didn’t seem far enough away.
“Hey.” I greeted everyone while taking a seat at the round table.
“Hello.” They all replied in unison.
My dad wasn’t there yet, and I was praying to God he wouldn’t show. Unfortunately, in walked my dad only seconds after I got into the restaurant. Just my luck, now I have to hear what he thinks about me leaving in a month.
Everyone greeted my dad like he was somebody that was worthy of praise. I just half-smiled and didn’t even hug him when he extended his arm my way.
“Be nice.” My mother mouthed from the other side of the table.
“No, thank you.” I mouthed back to her.
I listened to the aimless talk that floated around our table and without knowing it; I had blocked everyone’s voices out. I could only hear the thoughts that rattled around in my head and bounced off the walls of my brain.
Why does he care that Elli is getting married anyhow? If he cared he would’ve never left. It’s all pathetic and he’s pathetic. He shouldn’t be here, he should be off at some bar doing what he knows best; drinking the night away like he did all my life. I’m surprised he’s not hung over right now.
All the commotion at the table stopped and everyone stared in my direction. Did I just say all that out loud?
“Amanda, you have no right to talk about your father that way.” My mom said jumping to his defense.
“He had no right walking out on you and leaving you with two kids!” I almost yelled.
Everyone in the restaurant stopped and stared. Great, look what you’ve done Amanda. You had to think out loud didn’t you?!
“You really think all that about me, Manda?” My dad asked; hurt clearly tugging at his voice.
“Yes,” I stared deep into his eyes, “I do think all of that. You know maybe if you would’ve stuck around and been apart of my life, I wouldn’t be so upset at you. You left mom, all so you could drink your pay checks away. You’re a great role model, dad. Ha. I’m leaving.” I got up out of my chair and stomped out of the little building.
I was glad he heard my thoughts, I was glad I finally got to tell him I feel about him. It’s about time he knew that him leaving didn’t only hurt my mom, but it hurt all of us. What kid wants to grow up without knowing their father? I spent many years of my childhood asking my mom when my dad would be home, and all my mom would answer is, ‘Soon, very soon’. Well, he never came back. He left me fatherless and one day I hope he realizes that he is a selfish, selfish man.
I drove myself to the comfort of my best friend, Rylie’s, home. He was always there when I needed someone to talk to. He has listened to me cry about my dad time after time, and I hope he has time in his day for this ranting visit.
“Rylie!” I yelled walking in his front door.
“What?” Rylie said running down the stair rubbing his eyes.
His brown hair laid like a messy rat’s nest on top of his head, and he was still in his boxers.
“Did I wake you?” I asked, feeling kind of bad.
“Yeah you did, but no big. What’s going on? How’d family dinner go?” He asked pouring himself a glass of milk.
“Not so well, I thought out loud again, and my dad’s feeling got hurt. Honestly though, I don’t really care. He walked out on us, so why does he want to be a part of our life again?” I said laying tonight’s problems out in front of Rylie, just like I always do.
“I know you don’t want to hear this right now; but maybe, just maybe your dad wants to try and make everything right with you guys.” His eyes stared back into mine.
“Who side are you on?” I asked.
“Yours of course, but you have to cut your dad some slack.” Rylie’s eyes quickly darted to the floor.
“Cut him some slack?! Do you know how much crap he put my mom through? Why should I cut him any slack, he’s the one who left. He’s the one who walked out on my mother and left her as a single mother to raise two kids. He’s the one at fault!” I said trying to keep my composure the best I could.
“I know he hurt you, but you’re eighteen, just give him a chance. If he leaves after Elli’s wedding then you come and tell me ‘I told you so’, but if he sticks around and actually wants to get build a relationship with you, then build a relationship with him. Get to know him and see what this all about before you start jumping to the ‘he left us’ story.” Rylie said, every thing he said was right.
Maybe I’m not giving my dad enough time to see what he really wants with my family. Maybe he does want to build a relationship with us. Maybe, he’s not so bad after all.
“Rylie, even though you say things the way they are, I think you may be right this time.” I said,
“I always am.” Rylie laughed while taking me in a big bear hug.
I guess I am just gonna give my dad a chance and see what he wants with us. All I have to say though, is if he hurts my mom again, I will tell him what I truly think of him. I don’t want to see my mom hurt anymore than she’s already been hurt by my dad.
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