A man discovers that his 15-year-old daughter is slipping away every afternoon. He follows her to a mysterious abandoned trailer park to find out whom she has been meeting.
Frank Halprin was sure that there was nothing in the world harder to deal with than a teenage girl. Frank's daughter Amy was now 15 and she was beautiful, sensitive, wonderful and completely impossible.
Frank had a tougher time than your average dad because he'd been raising Amy on his own for the last eleven years ever since his wife, Jenny, had vanished without a trace when their daughter was just four. But lately, Amy had been evasive, and secretive.
She had been a keen soccer player, but suddenly she quit the team and spent her afternoons hanging around with her friends. Frank noticed she smelled like cigarette smoke when she came home.
"Amy, have you been smoking?" he asked.
"No, dad!" she cried crossly, "Seriously, I thought you trusted me!"
"Hun, your clothes smell like smoke," Frank pointed out.
"Some of the guys I hang around with smoke, OK!" Amy said, "But I don't! I thought you trusted me!" With that Amy flounced off up the stairs to her room and banged her door closed loudly.
Frank was worried because his daughter Amy was acting oddly. | Source: Pexels
Frank shook his head. Now he'd done it! He knew that for the next few days Amy would be distant, sulking. Couldn't she understand that he was doing his best? That all he wanted was to keep her safe?
The next morning Amy ate breakfast in a hurry, without even sitting down. "I'm spending the afternoon with Candice, dad," she said acidly, "Just so you don't have to send a spy after me or something."
Frank watched her walk out and sighed. Things would get better as she matured, he hoped. In the meantime. all the literature seemed to advocate patience, lots of patience. Frank got up and open the fridge door.
He had picked up a deli roast chicken the night before, and he'd throw together a potato salad, make some garlic bread and that would be their dinner. Frank frowned. Where WAS the chicken? He rummaged through the fridge. No chicken.
Frank noticed that there was food missing from the fridge. | Source: Unsplash
There was also a container of salad missing, and some sliced pineapple. "Maybe I'm losing it! Frank exclaimed, "Damn! I was so sure I'd bought the roast chicken!" He decided he'd pick up some pizza instead on his way home.
That evening, when Frank walked in the house was dark. Amy had obviously not arrived yet, which gave Frank time to pop the pizza in the oven and make the salad and the garlic bread.
We were all stronger when we reach out to the ones we love.
He was just mixing the salad dressing when the phone rang. "Hello?" he said.
"Hi, Mr. Halprin!" cried a familiar cheerful voice, "It's Candice. Could I speak to Amy please? I've been calling her cell but she's not picking up?"
The friend Amy was supposed to be with called wanting to talk to her. | Source: Unsplash
"Candice?" Frank asked bewildered, "But I thought Amy was with you..."
There was an embarrassed silence, then Candice gushed: "Yeah, she was! But she left some stuff here and I was wondering if she needed it for tonight or if could take it to school...Anyway, bye!"
And with this, Candice quickly hung up the phone. Frank was stunned. Candice was obviously covering for Amy, which meant she'd lied to him. One thing Frank had always believed was that Amy didn't lie to him.
Why now? What was happening in her life? Was she in trouble? Where was she going every afternoon? Frank was still pondering this mystery when Amy walked in. "Hey dad," she said cheerfully, "Howzit going?"
Frank followed his daughter the next day. | Source: Unsplash
"All good," Frank said calmly, "Candice just called looking for you."
Immediately Amy tensed up. "Already? I was with her twenty minutes ago!" she said. "What did she want?"
"I believe you left some stuff at her place," Frank said watching his daughter closely.
"Yeah," said Amy, "I did. Don't worry, I'll call her..." And with that Amy scampered up the stairs. Yes, she was definitely lying to him and Frank was going to find out why. There was no way he was turning a blind eye to this.
Frank saw the missing food on the table. | Source: Unsplash
The next afternoon Frank was waiting outside Amy's school, and as she left he followed her. Amy walked west and 20 minutes later she came to an old abandoned trailer park. Here and there were abandoned trailers, most were burnt and wrecked, but at the back was one that seemed fairly intact.
Frank watched with trepidation as Amy knocked on the door, and then walked in. Frank's heart was thundering in his chest. Was his daughter buying drugs? He couldn't belive it! Not his Amy!
Frank made up his mind, walked over to the trailer, and knocked loudly on the door. Amy opened the door, and stood there, visibly shocked to see him. "D-d-dad..." she gasped. Frank pushed past her and rushed into the trailer.
Inside it was very neat and very clean. On the kitchen table, someone had set out dinner -- a deli roast chicken and a salad. So that's where the food had gone. "Young lady," Frank cried, "You have some explaining to do!"
Jenny had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. | Source: Unsplash
Then he heard movement from the back of the trailer and turned around to find himself face to face with a ghost. "Jenny?" he gasped. It was his wife! She looked thin and tired, and frail.
"Please dad," Amy cried, and grabbed his arm, "I can explain..."
"I think SHE's the one who has some explaining to do!" Frank cried angrily. He turned to Jenny. "Where have you been and how dare you just show up after eleven years?"
"Daddy," Amy was holding on to him, "Mom's ill, she's so ill!" Frank noticed that Jenny was trembling and making strange warding gestures with her hands. "Dad, she left because they told her she had schizophrenia...She's been living on the streets, daddy!"
Jenny ended up living on the streets. | Source: Unsplash
Frank turned to stare at Jenny. "Schizophrenia?" he asked, "But why didn't you tell me? We could have worked through it..."
Jenny was shaking her head. "No! NO!" she cried, "I didn't want you and Amy to have a crazy woman in your lives. I'm a crazy crazy woman. Now I'm ok, ok, but soon, soon maybe not..."
Frank reached his wife in two steps. "I love you, Jenny, I never stopped loving you. I'm going to get you the help you need, and we are going to be a family again." Amy was hugging them both, and she threw Frank a look of such love that tears came into his eyes.
"Just one thing, girls," Frank said, "From now on, no more secrets." Frank and Amy stood by Jenny through the difficult period of treatment and adaptation to her medication, and sometimes things weren't easy. But they were a family and there are few things a family can't overcome with love.
The love of her daughter and husband helped Jenny find stability. | Source: Unsplash
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