The Worst Day

New to the site? Start with Part One of the story: Divorce and Departure

At the station, the police said they were working on letting me stay with my grandmother on a sort of house arrest or something, if only for that night. I don’t know if that was ever true, but at some point it wasn’t true, and they simply chose not to tell me. I was there for several hours, waiting.

They fed me pizza and let me call friends to explain that everything I’d told them about me — my name, my family story — was a lie. (That was actually amazing—I’d never had the opportunity to call friends and tell them I was leaving. I got to say goodbye!) I also played solitaire and scoffed at the very inaccurate age-enhanced photo of me. At some point after 10 p.m., one of the officers surprised me with the news that my dad was there to take me “home.” He lived about three or four hours away, so I’m guessing that I was the only surprised one in the building.

“Surprised” really doesn’t cut it; try scared and furious and faced with a stranger in the hallway who was apparently my father. We spent awkward moments on a bench while my insides burned and I looked away. I was determined not to cry because I didn’t want to seem weak, but it wasn’t weakness that pushed the tears to the brim of my eyelids. It was fury, grief, and a very real fear that this man would take out years of rage on me as soon as there was no one to see it.

Obviously, I had to go home with him. He was my father, so what was the problem again?

There was no way out the bathroom window at the police station; I did actually check. Besides, as I found out shortly, the media was waiting for us outside anyway. Man! What a twist on the story that would have been! “Girl to be reunited with father after 8 years tries to escape through the bathroom window of the city police station. Apprehended by police and released to father.”

Hey, at least they would have known that I didn’t want to go with him! Instead, it was reported as a happy reunion. When I saw it on TV later, that really bothered me because it really was the worst day of my life. No one watching that news story knew that I was terrified, or that I went to bed in his house that night with my regular clothes on.

This is the third installment in a series in honor of National Missing Children’s Day. Read part four here.

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