Colin, Age 16, Riverforest, IL

“What the heck was that?”

Ketchup happened to be thrown across the room. My friend sprinted out the door and ran wild like he was a baboon just let out of Lincoln Park Zoo. The girls I was just sitting with had been bombarded with ketchup, courtesy of my best friend. So they quickly grabbed our stuff and ran out of Tasty Dog, sprinting after him with the condiment just dripping from their apparel.

But I trailed behind them and I had no idea what to do. Back up my friend? Or the girls? Confusion set in. All of this happened way too quickly. One minute we were all laughing and the next my friend was sprinting out the door.

The girls caught him twice, but he got away both times. A tear streamed down this girl's face as she asked for my help. All she wanted was to talk to him and ask why he chose to act like such a child.

Still confused and set back about what happened, I found my friend and escorted him to the girls waiting in the park. I started to walk away after he was in the girls' hands.

“You’re lucky he pulled me off of you. I would have beaten you without a doubt!” I yelled to him as my friends pulled us off each other.

My friend bolted away from the girls with them yelling curse words at his back. Rage coursed through my veins as I turned around and saw him running.

No thoughts ran through my head about what to do. I threw off my backpack and got ready for war. As he was running at me full force, I leveled him like he was just hit by a car. When we hit the ground, our heads were shoved into the snow and fists were exchanged to our faces. That was my first fight, and the first friend I have ever thrown a fist at.

And the last.

I used to think of him as a brother, a companion, and my greatest friend. But just like my father, he showed traits of being a loser and a coward. So I broke it off with him and moved on. My father is another person I decided to break off from, as I did from my once best friend.

The father I grew up with seeing on the weekends was not the same person after a few years. He started to become a coward and a failure. He walked away from his family. He moved to Europe, changed his name, filed for bankruptcy, and is never going to pay child support again.

When I was a child, I always felt left out when the other kids would talk about their dads and how great they were. But that was the worst thing about my relationship with my father. I still loved and cared for him. I was still too young and naïve to know what was really going on. I used to never think much of him not coming to sports games or birthdays, I just thought he had work or something. But that of course was not the case. After he did not show up to my first communion, I knew something was not right. Anger frustration, and confusion were all rushing through my head when I asked myself why he didn’t come. My love for him would never be the same.

Later my mom told me things about him that were so terrible, I could not bear to tell anyone else. Stuff that would make me not even spit in his direction. I haven’t seen him in more than four years or heard from him; that shows me what kind of a man he really is. I don’t even know if he is alive or not. I don’t care either way. In some ways all of this had made me a better person and given me some sort of a rubric for life. I know to not ever do what this man has done.

It was especially hard for me to almost get rid of my once close friend and my father. Along the way I have gone through many tears and bruised knuckles. To get rid of someone from your life is an emotionally draining task. But you need to get through it day by day and overcome it in the end.

“The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones” Chinese proverb.


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