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What I Never Told My Father
by Darlene P. Campos

The author with her father, Summer 1992 (Image  ©  Darlene P. Campos). 

The author with her father, Summer 1992 (Image © Darlene P. Campos). 

One: My first memory of you is when you placed me on a shelf at the store and put a FOR SALE sign in my hands.

Two: I knew something was wrong when you took me to another woman’s house and you said I wasn’t supposed to tell Mom where we went.

Three: I did tell her.

Four: For years, I thought it was my fault you two fought so much.

Five: Somewhere between these times, I had pneumonia. I don’t remember how sick it made me. But I do remember you not being home even though you are a doctor.

Six: You are not always a monster.

Seven: When Great-Grandma died, you bought her a nice plot in the center of the Guayaquil Cemetery and you didn’t have to because you weren’t her blood relative.

Eight: If I needed something for school, you always got it the same day.

Nine: Because of your hard work, I never knew what hunger was until after the divorce.

Ten: Sometimes, I try to forget about you. Then I see my handwriting and how similar it is to yours. Or I look in the mirror. You’re always there.

Eleven: I don’t know if you ever loved my mother.

Twelve: Sometimes you acted like you did. Sometimes you acted like you didn’t. The latter happened more often.

Thirteen: Not seeing you for days at a time was never easy.

Fourteen: I admit it, I was jealous of the other kids in the neighborhood.

Fifteen: Out of everything I had, I never had you.

Sixteen: Your presence in the medical field let us take family trips to Europe twice a year and I appreciate this very much.

Seventeen: In Poland, I wanted to visit to Auschwitz. You rented a car and drove through falling snow to get me there.

Eighteen: Occasionally, I do miss you.

Nineteen: Despite not really knowing me, you chose me to be the one who buries you.

Twenty: I heard you trying to pick up a woman off the street for a ‘good time.’

Twenty-One: That woman didn’t know who you were and for that instant, neither did I.

Twenty-Two: The day you left, you claimed you would be back soon.

Twenty-Three: You never returned.

Twenty-Four: As an adult, I promised to never date a man like you.

Twenty-Five: And he’s nothing like you, not at all.

Twenty-Six: You’re invited to the wedding.

Twenty-Seven: I still want you to walk me down the aisle.

Twenty-Eight: I still want you to meet your future grandchildren.

Twenty-Nine: I’ll tell you something you took over twenty years to tell me.

Thirty: I love you. 

Darlene P. Campos is an MFA candidate at the University of Texas at El Paso’s Creative Writing Program. In 2013, she won the Glass Mountain magazine contest for prose and was awarded the Sylvan N. Karchmer Fiction Prize. Her work appears in Cleaver, Red Fez, Bartleby Snopes, Elohi Gadugi, The Writing Disorder, Connotation Press, Word Riot, The Boiler Journal, Plain China, and many others. She is from Guayaquil, Ecuador but has lived in Houston all her life. Her website is