Decision Time 

I finally calmed down and let Annie finish telling her story. Her mother sold the house, moved from the southside to the eastside and never looked back. Annie stopped asking about her father because her mother would just look at her and say “What father? You don’t have a father.” After a while, Annie stopped dreaming about her father. Forgot what he looked like or how he smelled. The sound of his voice had faded from her ears, and she no longer heard his songs. Her mother had destroyed any pictures that her father was in, so Annie couldn’t even look at past memories they had as a family.

As I listened to Annie talk about the loss of her father, I begin to feel overwhelmed with a rush of sadness that I hadn’t felt in years since my Daddy died. I still remembered everything about my Daddy. Shelia made sure that we remembered him well. We have photo albums on the cocktail table and his face in framed pictures throughout the house. We even have a huge oil painting of him in our living room. I couldn’t forget my Daddy’s face if I wanted to, not as long as I lived with my mother. I felt sad for Annie too, how horrible it must be to have a father, alive, and not get to see him. And to find out that your father lives blocks from you and that he also lives in the same house as your best friend had to be heartbreaking for her.

I glanced at Jean to see if she was feeling like I was feeling, but she didn’t appear to be affected in any way other than her usual curiosity. “That sucks! Big time!” Jean said when Annie stopped talking. “You want to see your Daddy? He’s at our house.” Jean jumped up from the ground and put her hands on her hip.

Annie looked up at Jean for a few seconds, thinking. “No. My Mom wouldn’t like it.”

Jean scoffed at Annie, “Girl your mother don’t have to know you going to see him. She don’t even know he lives with us.” Annie shook her head in the negative. Jean put me in it. “Sara, don’t you think Annie should go see flabby butt, I mean, her father? Her mother don’t have to know, do she?” Jean just couldn’t help herself. Even in this time of Annie feeling upset she just had to make a nasty comment about Mr. Jimmy.

I glared at Jean and ignored her. “Annie, do you want to see your father?”

Annie looked at me, still in sadness and stood up. “I don’t know Sara. I mean, what would I say to him? He might not want to see me, then what? And what about my Mom, am I supposed to see him and then go home and not tell her I saw him? In our neighborhood? She will pack up our bags and move me again. I don’t want to leave East High or you all. I like it here.”

I stood up next to Annie and put my arm around her shoulder. “How about if you see him and he doesn’t see you?”

Jean balked at that and said, “How the heck you gonna do that?”

I smiled at Annie, still ignoring Jean, “Mr. Jimmy is at work now, so we can go to my house and wait in my bedroom until he comes home. Then you can peek at him as he walks past my room to get to his room or the bathroom. You can see him, but he won’t see you. Then you can decide if you want to speak with him or not, but at least you will get to see your daddy again.”

“That’s not a bad idea.” Jean said nodding her head in agreement.

Annie looked me dead in my eyes. I nodded and said “Yes Annie. You can do this, you are strong.” Annie kept looking in my eyes and finally she took a deep breath, let it out slowly and said, “Let’s go before I lose my nerve.”