Dog winks at me

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Dog winks at me as I walk past. "Hey, girl."

I wave.

Then I hurry along the path to the main road. I can't help but glance back at the little dog. She's lying by the tree, staring up at me.

My cell phone vibrates in my pocket. I pull it out and stare at the caller ID. It's Charlie. I look around to see if anyone's watching, then quickly press the talk button. "Hello?"

"It's Charlie." His voice is full of excitement. "I just got an important message from my uncle. It said something about an important meeting, and it had something to do with your dad's accident."

My heart drops in my chest. The last thing I want is for the police to have me in their sights right now. But the worst thing about my current situation is that I don't know what's going to happen. I don't know if they'll take me to the hospital or what.

"What does it say?" I ask. "What did your uncle say?"

"I don't know," he says. "I wasn't supposed to tell you this. He said I could only call you if I needed to. But I'm calling you now. You need to know this. It's about your dad. It's about the accident."

"What accident? What are you talking about?"

There's silence on the other end. I can hear him breathing.

"I'm coming home," he says. "I'm coming home as soon as possible. It'll be better for both of us if I'm not in the middle of things at home."


## Charlie

**THERE IS SO MUCH THAT** has to be said. So many things that can't be done quickly. He tells me what happened as we drive back to our home. The accident was all over the news, and everyone at school knew about it. When we arrive, it's like the whole world is watching us. They know we've come from a place where it's all been out in the open, and I'm glad. But I can't shake the feeling that the people out there, the people who are watching us, think that my father and I were in some kind of accident. I've never known anything about any of this until now. I've never known anything about any of this, about the fact that my father was the man behind the company that made the world turn.

My father was at work when the accident happened, at one of his stores. He was on his way to the hospital when he saw the police, and then he had to help them out. A tree fell down and crushed his car. My father was trapped inside. He was in the car for almost two days before he died.

I've never talked about any of this with him. He's never asked me, and I've never had the courage to tell him. I can't help but think that if I'd said something to him earlier, then maybe...

But maybe I'd be talking to the man I saw die. Maybe I'd be the reason I didn't get to know the man who built this town.

I can't shake the feeling that people think he's me. That they can see him and me in the way people looked at me at the hospital, like I'm the one who's supposed to die.

We come into our driveway and park. I look out the window and see people staring at us. Some look angry, some look scared. I know they're scared, but I don't feel any safer. I wonder what Dad would say if I told him about all this. But I know it's the right thing to keep quiet. It's the best thing.

I want to scream. I want to cry. I'm scared. I've never been scared in my entire life, and I'm feeling all those things at the same time. I can't remember how to breathe.

I walk out of the car and stop in the middle of the driveway. My father's gone. He's gone and it's only me and him. I think of everything I haven't done for him, and the feeling of guilt and regret washes over me. My dad's life was taken away from him when I was still a baby. I never got to know him as a man. I never got to be a part of his life, or watch him raise a family. He never had a second chance. And I'm afraid.

I don't know if I can go home. If I go home, the people out there, the people at school, will be waiting for me. Waiting for me to start the next chapter of my life. Waiting for me to become the next person who will bring down his father's company. I can't do that. I can't become a man who's responsible for what he did. I can't do that. It's the last thing I want to do. It's the worst thing I can think of doing.

I sit in the driveway and think. I stare out the window and think.

I'm afraid.

I'm so scared that I don't know what to do.

I need to talk to Dad. But how can I talk to Dad about all this? If he were here, he'd be screaming at the police to take me to the hospital. He'd be saying he's going to take care of this. He'd be telling them he's the only one who can. He's the only one who can bring this whole thing to an end. But if I call him, he'll find out I'm the one who called the police. He'll find out what the police think of me, and he'll see that they know all about us. He'll see what they think of my dad.

I can't call him. I can't. It's better that I just don't talk to him. It's better that I don't tell him about all this. I can't let him find

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