Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Father (as in paternal parent, not God) (04/10/08)
By Laury Hubrich
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With each step to his bedroom, painful memories assaulted his senses.
“Don’t touch me,” Pam shrieked through clenched teeth, just before pulling away from his tender embrace.
The remembered words dropped him to his knees. His tall, lanky frame blended into the floor where he went from his knees to his stomach.
The vision went on and Ted was unable to stop it.
“I hate you, Ted. I hate everything you stand for. Since you became a Christian, you seem to think you’re so much better than me.” Pam opened and closed drawers violently, throwing clothes into suitcases. “I don’t want your love. I don’t want your pity.”
Tears ran down Ted’s eyes as the scene replayed in his mind.
Pam took hold of her luggage and threw them down the steps. She grabbed her purse then said her last cutting words, the last she would ever say to Ted face-to-face, “I especially don’t want your daughter.”
Ted saw little Casey out of the corner of his eye. Too young to be listening to this but by age four, she was wise beyond her years. She ran to Pam and grabbed hold of her legs. Ted tried to get to the little girl but too late. She unlaced the tiny fingers and threw Casey across the landing into Ted’s arms.
They huddled together, father and daughter, too stunned to speak, as the front door slammed shut. The little family of three suddenly became two. In that moment, Ted became both Father and Mother to young Casey.
A quiet knock broke the evil spell that bound Ted. He tried to get up but couldn’t. “Come in,” he said, a little above a whisper.
Casey peeked her head in and rushed to her dad’s side. “Daddy, are you okay? You thinking about Mom?”
“Do you remember that day, Casey?”
“I remember, Dad. I hated you. I couldn’t understand why Mommy left. I thought it was your fault. I know now that it wasn’t.”
“Your mom had a mental illness. She wouldn’t stay on her meds and it tore up her life –“
“And ours,” Casey finished.
“Yes, and ours, Darling.”
Casey rubbed her dad’s back absentmindedly. “So what now?”
A new wave of tears ripped through Ted’s body. Casey’s steely exterior melted and they cried together. Ted carefully lifted himself up from the floor and sat on the edge of the bed. The fourteen-year-old nudged her way onto his lap.
“Daddy, can you braid my hair?” Ted took the brush from her and worked the braid through her thick hair. “I really didn’t mean it.”
“What, Casey?” Ted knew but he wanted to hear her take back the words.
“I was mad but I don’t hate you. It wasn’t a fair thing for me to say.”
“No, it wasn’t fair, but you’re a teenager. Things will seem topsy-turvy sometimes. You’ll say things you don’t really mean.”
Casey got up and looked at herself in the mirror. “I’m worried, Dad.”
“Worried?” Ted asked.
“I don’t want to turn out like her.” Casey turned and ran to her daddy, as tears now ripped through her body. Ted held her close and his sobs mingled in with hers. When the tears subsided, Casey wiped the back of her hand across her tear-stained face.
“Dad, I have to tell you something.”
Ted’s heart slammed into his chest.
“Mom told me she was leaving.”
“What else do you remember, Casey-girl? What is so heavy on your mind?”
Casey hung her head, her eyes filling up. “She said I was just like her. That I would grow up and hate you just like she did. But I would never, Daddy. Not ever.”
“Come here and look at yourself again.” Casey studied her reflection. “Remember what Jeremiah 1:5 says?”
“Ummm… I think so. ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart.’”
“I loved you before you were born, too. I will always love you.”
“Even when I tell you I hate you?” Casey looked at him expectantly.
“It’s just a teenage thing, right?”
“Well, yes, but don’t make a habit of it.”
“I love you, Daddy.”
A new movement in his chest made him jump and smile at the same time. Pang. “I love you, too, Casey,” pang, “with all my heart. Will always, forever and ever.” Pang.
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