First Place, High School Short Story Contest
“I can’t take care of you anymore. I need to go to college, get a girl, find a job. One day I’ll tell you lo siento, but at this moment I can’t. Drink your bottles, do your thing. Just clean up the mess after,” I say, detached. His mouth hangs open a little, and I hesitate to tell him to close it before flies go in.
“Get out,” I say as an afterthought.
“Esta es mi casa,” he says, indignant. “You can’t leave.”
“I can do whatever I want, Papá. Let go,” I reply.
“Hijo!” he screams out of frustration. It’s sharp and slices through me. I freeze. “Don’t forget the money,” he finishes with a twisted smile.
“Fine,” I reply. I swing my backpack, purposefully hitting the rickety laptop that weighs more than me, and walk down the steps of my house. It’s not the first time I’m going back to the shelter, but it’s the first time I’ve gone in four years. Before, I didn’t know what to say when those people behind the screen asked about me, who I was, where I came from. Before, I said my name, I was me, I came from the womb.
Now, things are different. Perhaps one day it’ll be an action I regret, a brash decision creating a blotchy spot on my wallpaper, but for now, it settles its way into my heart. My life is my own, and my mamá is standing by my side. I have let go of Papá and my fingers are loose.
My name means many things. It means summer, it means heritage, it means a first-generation, low-income, bruise-bearing son with a childhood of cheap beer and broken bottles. My name means my casa, my mom’s love, my story. My name is me reaching out my fingertips to a tomorrow I cannot yet fathom to see.
My name is Verano, and I am ready to face el mundo.