“Hey Dad, I’m home!” I yelled. Usually this would have made no effect on the lingering stench of loneliness in the house, but today, a thumping sound came from the stairs and Dad appeared at the foot of them at the same time that I did.
Where have you been?” He thundered. “And especially dressed like that.” I rolled my eyes, trying not to show him that I was in complete shock of him being here.
He had not shown up for three years, and yet he didn’t look a day older than he did when mum disappeared. I felt a surge of hate and anger run through me.
“School, ‘Dad’,” I said, putting emphasis on the word dad. “But let me ask you something- where have you been these last few years? After mum disappeared you just left me alone. You didn’t take care of me. You didn’t bother to think that maybe I was affected by her disappearance too? How would you have felt if one of your parents disappeared and the other abandoned you? You have no idea how that made me feel. This is the first conversation we have had face to face since I was twelve. That was three years ago.”
He stuttered and stammered but he couldn’t find any words to say.
“Did great didn’t you?” I said, raising my voice. “Leaving only notes and recorded messages for three years about getting takeaway for dinner, and telling me to leave half in the fridge for you when or if you got home?”
I glared at him and neither of us made a sound. He sighed and resigned to a business voice at which I knew I had won.
“Make sure you inform me if you have any dreams with a guy in it who you feel drawn to.” He said, not even looking at me.
“Sure I will! Do you want me to tell you about the dreams I have about a guy who loves me? Who used to tuck me into bed at night and sing me to sleep? Who tells me goodnight and then is here in the morning to cook me breakfast and then drive me to school? I dream about having a real father who loves me and is there for me. But you’re not him.” I said. “You are NOT him.”
I pushed past my father and hoisted myself up the stairs and into my room.
I didn’t exactly have a great upbringing. My mother left when I was twelve. And now I’m scared. Because my father says that there is this ‘Coming of Age’ thing and it happens to all people in this group of his. I knew another kid, named Andre, he was a year older than me and we knew each other really well. At the beginning of last year, when he turned 15, he disappeared for good.
That wasn’t the first time. It has happened before. I’m scared that because it is my 15th birthday soon, I’ll go missing and I’ll never come back. Although, any place would be better than here with my father.
I pulled my covers around me and closed my eyes, trying to get to sleep.
The light taunted me in my sleep, gliding around and jumping high to where I couldn’t reach. It lead me through caverns glistening with water and into an alley, dim with light. I blinked and the light that led me was suddenly gone. In its place was a shadow. A shadow which stepped into the dim light and stared at me with an odd smirk….
His dark hair and dark eyes and dark skin somehow glistened like the water on the walls of the caverns and I yearned to reach out and touch him. I finally dared to reach out an arm and he did the same. He opened his mouth and spoke in less than a whisper, only for me to hear.
“Come find me, Opal. And I will try to find you.” Our fingers met and I reached closer, only to find that he was sinking into the shadows taking every source of light with him, leaving me in complete darkness.
I awoke, scared and sweaty, engulfed in darkness just as in my dream.
Three days on, and I hadn’t had another dream about the dark skinned, dark eyed, dark haired boy. I knew that he was the guy that my father was talking about. I knew that this had something to do with the ‘Coming of Age’.
I wrote a note addressed to dad, telling him that I would be at my friend Violet’s house for a while. I left it on the kitchen bench and left.
Once I got to Violet’s house, she let me in. I couldn’t help but notice her red rimmed eyes. She shut her bedroom door and broke down. Violet cried and I patted her on the back.
“Oh, Opal, I’m so sorry.” She cried. I shook my head.
“It’s no problem, Violet, really. What’s going on?” I asked lightly. I was worried about her. She had two older brothers and three younger sisters so something was almost always going on.
“My parents; they’ve been fighting. Over money, over their jobs, over everything and my older brothers don’t even blink an eye. My younger sisters just play with their crap and don’t care. I’m the only one who notices these things and I’m just so scared… I’m sorry…. What am I thinking? You barely see your dad.” She said. I gave her another pat on the back and then hugged her. She hugged me back.
“Violet, I’m so sorry, have you tried talking to your brothers about it? Have you tried talking to your mum about it? You should tell her that you’re worried.” I suggested. Violet frowned and shook her head.
“You know I don’t talk to my brothers and I can’t exactly tell my mum, she’ll go crazy.” She said quietly. I knew she was right. “Hey, you’re staying tonight, right?”
“Only if you want me to,” I told her.
“You have to, I mean, it’s your birthday tomorrow, isn’t it?” She said excitedly. I nodded. It was my birthday tomorrow and because my father only ever left me a dull card on the table, I had forgotten all about it. My friends and I always had a sleepover the night before, waking up just before midnight so we could be the first people to say happy birthday.
“I might have to tell my dad first though,” I confessed.
“Your father?” Violet asked, surprised. I nodded.
“I think both of our lives are kind of messed up right now.”
I stayed at Violet’s house for three hours before her mum came into her room with the house phone. She handed it to me without a word. She left, giving Violet a dark look before closing the door. Violet looked about ready to cry again.
“Hello?” I said into the phone. I looked at Violet apologetically and she shrugged.
“Opal, is that you?” It was my father, speaking gruffly.
“No it’s the postman- of course it’s me. What do you want?” I asked harshly. There was silence.
“I want you to come home right now. I did not give you permission to stay at this Violet’s house. If you’re not home in the next five minutes…” He trailed off. I rolled my eyes. Violet bit her lip. My father wasn’t exactly quiet on the phone. You could hear him from an entire room away.
“What? If I’m not home what will you do that you haven’t already done?” I yelled, my voice breaking on the last word. Violet looked away.
“There’s something very important I have to discuss with you.” My father said. I shook my head in disbelief. I was trying to think of some witty comeback but I was silent, tears in my eyes. “Be home.”
The authority in his voice was hard to miss. I wiped my eyes, hung up and handed the phone to Violet. She stared at me expectantly.
“I’m sorry Vi… I have to go.” I sniffed. Violet nodded. I picked up my bag and fled.
I preferred home when I was the only one who paid attention to me. I didn’t want to go to my house now that my father was a full time occupant of it. Hell, he probably didn’t even remember that it was my birthday tomorrow.