Qualified Entry: Fiction Category
By: Luke Burda
It has been six years since I have seen his bright blue eyes, silky blond hair, and the only smile that made me smile back. Caleb was my first and only son. He was all I had left of my wife. Miranda passed away in a car accident. But now I don’t have either one of them. I still can’t forgive myself for what has happened. I guess you could say I have given up on finding him. Call me a murderer and a horrible father but before you do, know that I still cry every night and think about him every day.
It was the perfect day, and I mean perfect. Clear sky, seventy-eight degrees exact, and the fresh summer air, oh, it was unforgettable. Caleb jumped into my bed. “Wake up dad”, he said so loudly but I didn’t mind. “Its only eight o-clock” I somewhat protested. I didn’t want to keep him waiting for that was a big day for him. It was about five or six days after Caleb’s fifth birthday and I promised him I would take him to do anything he wanted for his “fifth” birthday. So we poured our Captain Crunch and milk, our usual breakfast choice. Before we even gave our blessing he blurted out his wish for the day. “I want to go to the big playground with the giant twisty slide and play all day, and then I want to sit with you and eat a big ice cream sandwich after”, he said finishing with that smile I told you about earlier. Of course I had to add my stern, emotionless face so he would wonder whether I would say yes or no. His smile broke my stern mask to a smile. Boy was he excited. Caleb jumped up and down, took about two spoonfuls of cereal, got dressed, put his shoes on and sat by the door all in about twenty-five minutes. So once I was ready I decided we could go a little early.
“It’s huge”, Caleb screamed out as we rolled into the parking lot. I gave him the ground rules before he was let out of the car. “No walking off, no talking to strangers and if you have to go to the bathroom, come ask me.” So off he ran still in site the whole time he played. It was about forty-five minutes in when he decided he had enough courage to go down the giant twisty slide. He looked at the slide, then at me and back at the slide again. He seemed nervous but I knew he would do it just because I was watching. Caleb did it. To be honest I don’t know if I would have done it. I was so proud of him I decided I would get his ice cream sandwich a bit early. I saw him climbing up the slide so I figured he would be fine for a minute while I went into the store. I walked into the store, paid for the ice cream sandwiches and waked out the door. I went back to where I was sitting. I looked up to find Caleb and tell him what I got but he wasn’t there. I figured he was just going down the slide, but as seconds went by every kid but his son was coming out. I was absolutely terrified. I scanned the playground franticly but no image of Caleb was in site. Now I won’t go through how many hours I searched for my boy those multiple weeks following the tragic day.
Even today I will be in the store or walking in town and think I’ve seen him. My heart races and I basically run into the child only to get my heart crushed when it’s not him. All I can say is that I pray that one day I will be united with my son again.