On the afternoon of my sixteenth birthday, my life was irrevocably changed. I had left school early to avoid my insanely boring double period maths, coupled with my religion class. As I entered into my home, the doormat was swept aside by the door, causing the pile of daily post to become scattered along the wooden floorboards of the hallway.
I scooped the letters into my hand and tossed them onto the pine unit in the hall of my grandparents’ house. As I began to step away, the pink envelope jutting from the bottom of the pile caught my eye. It was addressed to me, my name written on it in a messy scrawl of black ink. I didn’t recognize the handwriting, so I picked it up curiously and began to break the seal. I drew the card out of its glossy envelope and looked to the front of it.
To a special daughter on her sixteenth birthday, it read.
For a moment, I thought I had misread the card. Upon scanning my eyes over it again, I realized this was not the case. I turned the envelope back over in my hand out of utter perplexity and re-read the address, assuming there had been some kind of mistake in the distribution of the card.
Emma Fitzgerald, 14 Greenwood Road, Ashfield, County Wicklow was the address on the torn envelope. My address. All I kept thinking was that this couldn’t have been possible, for both of my parents had died in a car accident when I was four years old. I hesitantly opened the card to read the message inside, not knowing what to anticipate.
Happy birthday Emma. I can’t believe you’re sixteen. I love you and I always will. Hope your day is filled with lots of love and joy,
At first, I thought that this was some kind of sick joke. As far as I was concerned, my father was dead and had been for a longer period of my life than he had been alive. But then, I pulled out the letter that was also contained inside the envelope. I unfolded it, and began to read the mass of writing.
How are you getting on? I’ve missed you these past twelve years and I’d really like to get in touch with you.
As I’ve repeated in almost every previous letter that I’ve included with each of your birthday cards over the past number of years, I want to emphasise that despite having been found guilty, I never did it. I know that I’m not in a good light considering the evidence against me, but I want you to know that I am innocent. I know you probably don’t believe me and that’s likely the reason that you’ve not replied to any of my letters. I understand if you hate me for everything that happened. But please give me the chance to convince you that I’m not guilty. Please come and visit me and let me explain everything. If you then decide you don’t believe me and still want nothing to do with me, then I’ll accept that and I won’t contact you again. If you don’t respond to this letter, I’ll take that as you’re not interested and I’ll also leave you alone under that circumstance. Either way, this is the last time that I’ll contact you through a letter.
I hope to hear from you soon. But if that doesn’t happen, I just want you to know that I love and miss you dearly. Not a day has gone by over the last twelve years when I haven’t thought of you.
Take care Emma,
Welling tears began to sting at my eyes. My dad was alive. In that instant, I couldn’t comprehend that being the reality. Nor could I handle the overwhelming amount of knowledge that had just been sprung on me. And yet, I was craving more information on the matter. My father was in prison for something that he claimed he didn’t do. What his supposed crime was, I was unaware of and my grandparents had always kept this from me. He had also claimed to have written more letters to me in the past, which was a clear indication that they had intercepted each one of them being delivered to me.
With that in mind, I decided I wasn’t going to reveal I was now privy of this to them, at least not until I became more acquainted with the truths of the past they had kept from me. I resolved to keep this hidden from them as they had so done with me, until I had visited my father in prison.