Amazing Kids! Magazine

No Watch. No Ring. No Pants.

By Abby Zuckerman, age 17, California

 

The last time I saw my father was on the F-train at Grand Central Station. My father was an organized man, he didn’t like feeling lost. The pens in his office were color-coordinated, his papers in labeled folders, and his desk neatly pushed up against the wall adjacent to the door. He was a restricted man, his walls built higher than the Empire State Building.

New York was where my internal chaos began. Lost in a city—forever. I was never found, I was left stumbling around in a concrete-colored society filled with the faces of John Doe. I was seven years old and terrified, and I assumed that this was like any other time I had lost my parent, like when I lost my mom in the supermarket or when I couldn’t find her in the house but she was simply outside gardening. But it wasn’t like that, then.

Here I am, nine years later: fatherless and teaching myself to shave in my foster family’s master bathroom. My chin, full of nicks, and my mind full of self-pity. “Don’t worry,” I think, “It’s not your fault he left you.”  He left five things behind: his wedding ring, some shirts, some pants, a journal, and me. I am a pair of abandoned pants to my father. He can go to the mall, pick up some pants, try them on and then buy them—not a very significant purchase, but he will need them at some point. I am my father’s pants. He might not use them now, and he might’ve forgotten about them, but he will rediscover those pants he left behind nine years ago.

I am hopeful, yet hopeless, just waiting for someone to tell me the reason why he left without warning. Had this been something he’d been planning? Or was the fact that he left a seven-year-old child alone in the middle of one of the biggest cities in the world just a spur-of-the-moment idea? I hope it was sudden (like ripping off a Band-Aid). I convince myself that he had his own struggles that I didn’t see.

I didn’t see his pain, but it was seen. I didn’t taste the bitterness of my father’s reality, but he did. I was oblivious to his unintentional cries for change. I didn’t touch the hand he had extended to me for assistance.” I tell myself this every night before I go to bed. My mind is a constant juxtaposition of missing and resenting my father.  In my mind, he is now a far-off memory. He was the man that left me alone, hoping I would save myself.

He was a writer, one of the best. He told me a different story every night before bed, and every single night before he left me. I think this is what inspired my love to write. I feel so free when I write. I can write about anything and anyone. There’s this game I play as I ride home from school on the public bus. I see someone, describe them, and then write out their life story without even knowing their name. Today on the bus, I saw an average-sized white man, scruffy hair and a beard to match. A man in his late 30’s, I would assume. His beard foreshadowed grey with a speck of white here and there. He had brown hair, brown eyes and sun-kissed skin but still quite light in color. He was standing with one hand on the bus railing above his head and the other in his pocket. He had a flannel button-up shirt on, not too fancy and not too formal, very lackadaisical, but it appeared that he could dress it up, if he tried. He paired this with a cardigan and some beat up jeans and a brown leather belt with shoes to match. I imagined this man to live in a small apartment in the more urban part of town. I named him Nick. Nick stared at me with dissatisfaction but he also seemed a tad bit interested in my entry—I mean, I was staring at him and analyzing his every move, but whatever. I imagined that Nick lived in an apartment, a boring apartment with curtains from the ceiling to the floor so he could block out the world. He felt as if he had to hide in this apartment, which had ironically been painted yellow when he moved in. A happy color for a not-so-happy man. The apartment when he bought it was bright and full of light. It had a lot of potential, before Nick came and painted everything grey, just as his beard was soon to be. I liked Nick, even though he seemed irritable. Maybe he was having a bad day, and maybe he couldn’t help but look crabby. I mean, no one can control what happens to him or her. I know I don’t have much control over what happens to me or what will happen to me, but this… these stories, I have control of and I can’t seem to get enough of it.

***

I was sitting on the bus, minding my own dang business when I saw a scrawny teen staring at me in awe. At first I thought nothing of it, then I saw him begin to write. I was ticked off and ready to finally go home. It had been a long day at work; my mind was fried, my body was swaying from side to side, and I was just hoping I could stay awake long enough so I wouldn’t miss my stop. My legs were practically begging for my couch, and I bet my face read the same expression. My head hung low and my eyes were closed, but when the bus jolted, I sprung awake. The same boy was still sitting there, and still looking at me. So I decided to look back. I noticed you could see his ankles, because his pants were too short on him. He sat hunched over with his nose in his journal, frantically writing. His tattered wool coat kept falling from his lap and brushing the old man’s elbow beside him. This would happen about every two or three minutes and the old man would look at him in disgust, but the boy wouldn’t even look up, as if in fear that his pen would accidentally lift from his paper.

The bus halted to a stop, and the driver hollered, “Emery Blvd! Leo, get your nose out of that book, we’re at your stop.” The lanky boy got out of his seat and meandered off the bus. I thought to myself, “Leo, really? I thought he would’ve been more of a Sebastian.”

The bus tugged forward, heading to the next stop. I moved from my spot at the rail to Leo’s seat. I untucked my flannel shirt, hunched over and buried my face into my palms. My arm was exhausted from holding the rail above my head for what felt like an eternity, so I plopped it down next to me, accidentally brushing the old man’s elbow with mine, and he glared at me with that same disgusted look.

One comment

  1. Genevieve Morgan /

    This story is chock-full of vivid detail. It has texture and the pacing is excellent, too. Thanks for sharing it!