Imagine losing years off your life... Keri Atwater works as a bar tender in a local night club. Aside from having a moderately exciting but not the best paying job in the world, something else isn...
-Keri's Point of View.
I sat next to Melody's bed, just staring at her. The doctor said she would be fine after she received a whole night of the oxygen mask, she had no long-term damage to her lungs from the smoke. For this, I was relieved, but I was still scared. I thought I lost her. Sometimes, I felt she was the only person I had who understood me.
Bob walked in the room with a cup of coffee in hand and sat down next to me. I hate coffee, but the smell was so comforting. It reminded me of being a little girl, as my father used to drink it every morning at breakfast. I miss those days. Everything was so simple, so innocent. Everything changes when one hits a certain age.
My mind started to wander back to my childhood. I was a curious kid, so full of excitement and wonder. It didn't take a lot to please me. I used to take pleasure in the simple things, like daddy pushing me on my green swing set on a beautiful summer morning before mama calling Jackson and me in for breakfast. Chickadee's chirping their merry morning songs, the sun shining through the trees, the sweet smell of moist dew sitting comfortable on the jungle green blades of grass, the cool morning air. I remember giggling like the six year old child I was when daddy would give me an under-duck, taking me out for ice cream after a nice swim at the local public pool.
One day, it all came to a shuddering stop.
I remember it clearly, the day my childhood abruptly ended. I was in the eighth grade and it was just before Halloween. Sitting in class, my mind was not focusing. My teacher was starting to sound annoyingly like a scene from Charlie Brown. Just then, a familiar jingle filled the classroom, indicating an in-class announcement.
"Mrs. Fisher, could you please send Keri Atwater to the principal's office?" the school secretary's squeaky voice filled the classroom.
"Yes, certainly." Mrs. Fisher replied, and the room promptly filled with oh's and ah's from the immature eighth graders, automatically thinking I was in trouble. I shrugged them off and got up out of my seat. Anything was better than sitting in class listening to an endless spiel about the water cycle...
Trudging up the stairs into the principal's office, I was met by the principal, my grandmother and my mom. No words could describe how I felt when I saw my grandmother. Nothing good could come out of her look of grief. My mother looked like she was about to resort to tears.
"Keri, please come in my office and have a seat." the principle, Mr. Garroway held out a hand and gestured toward his office. I cautiously walked in and took a seat in between my mother and grandmother, not sure of what was going on. My grandmother took a tissue out of her pocket and blew her nose. I looked over at my mother, who was staring straight ahead of her at the wall, her face lacking any emotion.
Mr. Garroway took a seat at his desk, his chair turned facing me. He sighed and leaned back into his chair. He didn't say anything for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, he lowered his eyes to me, and opened his mouth to speak. Nothing could prepare me for what he was about to say.
"Keri," he started, rubbing his hands over his solemn looking face. He evidently didn't know what to say. Or how to say it. "I'm sorry to tell you, there has been an accident. Your father. Keri, your father died this morning. I'm so sorry."
His words were a haze of murmurs, almost like I was back in that wretched Charlie Browns' classroom. Fuck, anything would have been better than this. I felt my grandmother put a reassuring hand on my shoulder. I looked at my mother for any kind of emotion, I got nothing. She still stared at the wall, stone-faced.
"We are permitting you a few weeks off with no academic penalty. We will be getting a package of your school work for you to do while you're out, "he gazed at me, as I glanced at the floor. I couldn't handle this right now. "Keri, I want you to know if you need anything, come and talk to us. We're here for you. Don't hesitate. I will call you in a week to see how you are."
I nodded absent-mindedly and rose from my seat. I needed to be alone, but there was no way that would happen. I heard my grandmother say a thank you and a solemn goodbye behind me. I went into my classroom and gathered my stuff and went out to the car. Everything from the conversation in the office on was a blur. I felt emotionless. Luckily, it was break time and there was no one in the classroom. I couldn't deal with any questions.
The day of the wake was rough. I still hadn't learned the details of my father's accident. Everyone was being tight-lipped around me. Family members looked at me in pity, mumbling "what a sin," "poor thing," or "she's being so strong," under their breaths. Seeing my father in the casket was tough. Daddies aren't supposed to die. They're supposed to be immortal, so they can walk the earth to protect their little girls from harm, heartbreaks, monsters under the bed. Mine was taken away from me so quickly. I had not had the chance to say goodbye. At least with a lengthy illness, you can prepare for the sweet departure. I had nothing. I felt cold.
I don't even remember the funeral. I didn't want to. I'm sure I got more pitiful looks and murmurs then. I didn't care, I just wanted to curl up into a ball and die. To join my beloved daddy wherever he was. I loved him. He was my escape from the every day, my wonder wall. But that wonder wall was broken with a sledgehammer. Never to be reconstructed. I would never see my daddy again.
This, was the start of my downward spiral.