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Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

She will never hear the words ‘I love you’

Father’s broken promises leave lasting scars
Provided by Angel Harper
Angel waits for her dad to pick her up when she was 3. He was going to take her to Chuck E. Cheese to celebrate her birthday.

I love you. 

Three words. Three words that I long to hear. Three words that I sincerely want him to say to me. 

I never had a good relationship with my dad. We have always been distant. When I was younger, he would talk to me once a week and if I was lucky, he would come visit me. But after my seventh birthday, he just stopped. 

I will always remember that day. I sat by the window, excitedly waiting for him, not even pausing to take a bite out of my Bubble Guppies cake. 

I waited for hours just for him not to show. I cried to my mom and asked, “Why didn’t he show up?’’ Seven years later was when I realized that this was the moment he walked out of my life. 

After that birthday, it was a gamble to see if he would show up to the next one. I would start flipping a coin the night before my party, and if it was heads he would show up, tails if he wouldn’t. 

It usually landed on tails. 

Once he missed my birthday party, he would frantically call wishing me a happy birthday late into the night. Apologizing and saying how busy he was working in Baltimore. 

He always worked in Baltimore. 

He would say, “I will come visit you after work. I promise.” He never did. This changed me. Now I can’t make promises anymore because of the disappointment I felt every time he would break his. 

This pattern of calling me to apologize and promise to be better continued for years until when I was in fifth grade. 

After that, he ignored me for two years. 

That is what hurt the most. During that time, I frequently thought that he didn’t love me. When my mom filed for custody over me, I was apprehensive, wondering how hard he would fight to have custody over me. Apparently, he didn’t fight at all because my mom came home and said he didn’t show up at court. 

Looking back, I should have known he wasn’t going to show. But it still hurts to know that my dad, the man who is supposed to love me unconditionally, didn’t even try to have custody over me. 

As the years went on, I started to become jealous of everyone, not just my other siblings. I would see little girls out with their dads smiling and eating ice cream together. Every father-daughter dance was torture. I always sat in the back while I watched the other girls dance with their dads, smiling like there was no tomorrow. My mom asked if I wanted to go with my brother but that would just make me feel even more pathetic. 

I used TV shows and books as an escape from the reality of an absent father. I imagined the dads on TV as my father. I longed for a dad like Maes Hughes from “Fullmetal Alchemist” or Uncle Phil from “The Fresh Prince of Bellaire.” 

But instead, I was left with an emotionally unavailable father who thought that love came in the form of money. He would call and ask me what I needed but never how I was doing or if I was okay. He would just buy me a phone and then leave for the rest of the month.

That was years ago, and after I started high school, I thought that he might start to care. He started coming by the house more and we even took a rare family photo. But after that, he visited me once a month for a year then quit again. 

Now as a junior, I have stopped waiting for him to call me. I stopped saying “Happy Father’s Day” to him. I started to move on.

I learned from all the broken promises to never make any of my own.

Because of his years of neglect, I can’t look at fathers and their daughters without feeling an overwhelming wave of envy. I hate seeing cute dads and daughters online basking in each other’s company. 

I will always feel the pain of his absence. That will never go away. I will always hold bitterness toward him and blame him for not giving me the childhood I deserved. 

I just need to get over the fact that I will never be one of those kids who will hear “I love you” and feel as though my dad actually means it.

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  • C

    Claire BFeb 11, 2024 at 2:22 pm

    Absolutely beautiful writing Angel <3

  • E

    Emma XiaoFeb 11, 2024 at 12:13 am

    Amazing story Angel. Truly powerful!