DREAM ON, AMBER
I walked over to my chest of drawers, pulled the bottom one all the way out and put it to one side. I reached into the space underneath it and took out the photo of my dad.
I stared at it.
And for the first time in as long as I could remember, I didn’t feel angry with my dad. I didn’t hate him for leaving or have dark, evil thoughts brewing as I looked at his photo.
I missed him.
I couldn’t remember any details about him but it didn’t matter.
He was my dad. I remembered him being there.
And I suddenly missed him so much I felt the black hole inside me growing and growing and crushing me so much I could hardly breathe.
I put the photo back and closed the drawer. Then I went over to my bed, lay on it and curled up in a ball. A tight, tight ball like a hedgehog. And I lay there wishing my stress would zoom through the air like radio waves to wherever my dad was. And he’d come home to help me.
Ages went by. Maybe even twenty minutes.
He didn’t knock on the door.
The black hole grew just a bit more until it pressed on my throat.
He was gone.
There was only one thing that could help me breathe and stop the ache.
I lifted myself up, black hole and all, wiped my eyes and got a pad of sketch paper from my desk. I took my favourite 2B pencil out of the pencil jar and sat on the floor with my legs crossed. I already felt better, just sitting like that. Drawing sorts me out because I can draw the world better than it is. And if any situation needed to be better, it was this one.
My pencil started moving on the page. I didn’t think. I just drew. It was like my hand took over without my brain getting involved.
After a while, the lines on the page started looking like a leg. It grew and lines appeared above it. In a short while I noticed there was an arm, and then another one. All attached to a big, strong body. And a head. I looked down at the strange thing that had appeared on the paper.
It was a big, strong protector of a dad. He stood tall and proud. Wearing a cape and a mask.
It was kind of weird, seeing him there suddenly. It made me grin. So I said, ‘Hey.’
I imagined the person in the drawing answering me.
‘Hey yourself. What’s up?’
‘Oh, you know. This and that.’
And then the idea of him kind of grew.
I flipped over the paper so I had a fresh piece, and sketched him again, adding details and making him more real. I kept the mask and the cape though.
And before I knew it, he started to come to life.
I stared at the paper.
It made me feel really happy. And the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of a madeup dad.
Real dads get tired and grumpy. They’re always at work, but, like, always. Most of them have no idea about the secret techniques of top karate moves. Some of them get drunk and yell. Loads of them have bad backs and moan all the time. Worst of all, they can be seriously unimaginative so they don’t ever offer to take you kite-surfing. They can be nice and all, I’m not saying all of them are like that.
But this dad of mine was perfect.
He was always there for me.
I could talk to him about anything.
He always had time to hang out.
He had money, which is important because dads have to be able to buy you stuff.
He knew how to do everything really well and he was a mountain of fun.
He would look after me.
And he would never, ever leave.
He was everything a dad should be.
And because it suddenly felt so amazingly good to have him there, I decided to try something out. I got another piece of paper, took a deep breath, and drew him sitting in my room with me.
The perfect dad.
It was so cool!
And then another idea came to me. I closed my eyes and imagined the dad in my illustration didn’t just exist on paper. I imagined he was sitting on the end of my bed.
And there he was, real as anything.
So I talked to him.
It went like this.
‘I’ve complicated my life so badly that I don’t even want to get up tomorrow morning,’ I said.
‘OK,’ you said, ‘but you can’t start a story halfway through. You have to start at the beginning and tell me everything.’
‘Everything? Who says?’
‘OK. What do you want to know?’
‘Start at the beginning,’ you said, stretching and getting comfortable.
So I began.