The Journey

by Lara Berliner, age 12
The Journey Writing has become a large part of Lara's life. It is freeing and imaginative. She gathers her feelings and thoughts, only to spill it across a small sheet of lined-paper. She loves creating characters with different personalities and interests. Writing is a way for her to escape from reality and become almost a different person.

“As the bus slowly drove away, I leaned back, resting my head near the frosty window. My eyes gazed, noticing a father and his daughter crossing the street. I watched as they giggled, their umbrellas dancing behind them. They slowly disappeared. I looked away, my hands fumbling as I cleared the lump in my throat.”

I sat there, my red Converses tapping the cement, while my two fingers twitched nervously. I waited under the large bus sign with my red hood draped over my head. It was the day I had been dreading since the beginning of August. I waited.

But, as the bus swooshed near the curb, splashing a puddle, the same uneasy feeling came again. I threw my tattered backpack over my shoulder and reluctantly stepped on the bus. The driver gave a quiet nod as I counted each silver coin, paying the fare of $1.50. I walked to the very back and slid into an empty seat. As the bus slowly drove away, I leaned back, resting my head near the frosty window. My eyes gazed, noticing a father and his daughter crossing the street. I watched as they giggled, their umbrellas dancing behind them. They slowly disappeared. I looked away, my hands fumbling as I cleared the lump in my throat.

Final stop. I looked around as I gripped the silver pole beside me. The driver, looking through his stained mirror, gave me a silent smirk.

“Have a nice evening,” he said. I nodded, my lips pursed together as I grabbed my headphones out of my backpack.

Stepping onto the ground, my Converses hit the crusty pavement. I stopped. I reached for the folded piece of paper in my back pocket.

“44 Dayton Lane,” I muttered. Behind me stood the 8 Pin Motel, the sign blinking in bold, red letters. I pulled out the torn map of East Michigan from my backpack. To the left, a stop sign read, “Hollow Road.” I followed it.

As I walked, my thick, sandy hair turned damp, and the rain continued. It seemed to be a rather quiet town on this chilly Tuesday.

I wondered. Thoughts about the future circled my mind, but I instead pushed them away. I continued on, directing myself through the ramble of streets.

“Muten Road.” I was one final street away. There I stood, my feet unable to move. I wanted to turn back and run. But I couldn’t, I wouldn’t allow myself to. It was then that I realized my life would never be the same. What I once knew would be in the past, and that scared me.

But, while thinking this, I walked on, my Converses hitting the gravel. I was there. I took one deep breath, and I rang the doorbell. I heard footsteps coming from inside, and the door slowly opened. There was my father, the man I never met.

***

“Hi,” I managed to blurt.

“Hello, can I help you?”

He was a tall figure with thick, sandy hair and piercing, green eyes, much like my own. His house was small, yet comfortable, with a light blue painted coat. His voice was deep and stern, but with the slightest warmness that was indescribable.

I stood there, my hands fumbling in the pocket of my sweater.

“Ron?” I asked, quietly.

“Uh, yes. You?”

“Jane, your daughter.”

He stood there shocked, his eyes wide. He began to mutter nonsensical things, his mind unable to comprehend what I had said.

“So…” I watched, as he nervously debated what to do.

“Uhm, come in,” he muttered.  “I think that will be best.”

He opened the door a bit wider and allowed me in. I walked into the dark foyer, drying my shoes against the welcome mat. He led me into the kitchen, where he offered me a seat. I sat, drying the ends of my hair.

“You said your name was Jane, right?”

I nodded.

“And your mother’s Anna?”

“Yes, ” I said as he shook his head.

He began asking questions.  After every few minutes, he would nod his head in disbelief.

“How old are you again?”

“I’m turning eighteen this fall.”

He looked out the window, seeming confused.

“How’s Anna?”

“She’s dead.”

His face deepened, and his eyes grew big. I felt my stomach turn.

I stared silently out the window. I watched as the rain fell, tapping each window.

“Why did you leave?”

“To be honest, I don’t know,” he sighed.  “I was young.  I was seventeen.”

“I know,” I interrupted.

But why? I wondered. Why? That is  just an excuse. I’m seventeen, and I still face reality. That’s why I’m here.

Looking to my side, I saw a small picture frame. It was of a family, a happy family.

“Who are they?” I said, pointing to the silver frame.

“Oh this,” he said, as he reached for the picture. ”My wife, Christina, and our two daughters.”

I so badly wanted to leave, but I knew I shouldn’t.

“Tell me!” I demanded.

“Tell you what?”

“Tell me why you left?”

“Didn’t I tell you?”

“You told me an excuse. Tell me why!”

I sat there. He gave a sigh and stared down at the floor.

“Look, I’m sorry,” he muttered.

“But why? My whole life was this unknown mystery. And now, I’m so close but–”

“I know,” he interrupted. “I’m sorry.” His eyes widened and became slightly watery. “I regret it, that’s all I can say.”

“Fine,” I said.

“Tell me why you came.”

I paused. Why did I come? I thought for a while.

“I wanted you to know I exist,” I shrugged. “But that’s all.”

He looked down and muttered something. He was hurt, and I could tell.

“You came here to find your father, right?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“Well, I am the closest thing to a father. I may not have been there for you, but I am now.”

“I know, but you were the one who left. You caused my mother nothing but trouble, and I will never forgive you for that,” I screeched.

“But I am still your father.”

“So?” I said.

He sighed and circled the kitchen. While he paced the floor, I noticed the silver detailing around each cabinet. I stared. We locked eyes, and I saw his pain. I shouldn’t have felt bad, but I did. I knew he regretted it, but I wouldn’t let go. He hurt me. And it was as simple as that.

“Fine. I’m sorry.”

“I think I should go. It’s getting late,” I said, breaking the silence.

“Yeah, sure.”

I stood up from my chair and threw my backpack over my shoulder. He gestured, and I followed him down the hall.  When I first came, I believed my life would never be the same. But it still was.

He opened the door and stared down.  “Well I guess this is it,” he said.

“Yep.”

Was I really going to leave? I suddenly remembered the day my mother passed. I recalled picking up the phone at around noon and hearing the sound of someone telling me that she had died. I thought it was all a dream, but it wasn’t. It was reality. She was gone. Gone. I hung up, and I ran to the phone book. It was then that my quest to find my dad began. I remember wondering, What would happen if I knew him? Would my mother still have died?

“I’m here if you need anything.”

“Thanks.”

“Bye, Jane.”

“Bye, Dad.”

 

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