March - Greg

March - Greg

A Chapter by Abigail T

Greg Miller, Alli's father, isn't used to feeling this concerned for his eldest daughter.























I’ve never been much of a drinker, really.  I did get drunk a few times in high school senior year, but my years of drinking were short-lived.  The first time I got drunk was early in the school year, maybe around late September, and someone in my grade was throwing the first big party of the year. It’s funny how some details still stand out to me, and some don’t.  For example, I have no idea who threw that party, but I remember the girl who was throwing herself at me: Stacy Carpenter. Anyway, Stacy Carpenter was hitting on me and I was drinking for my first time because I wasn’t the designated driver for once.  I can’t remember if Stacy was drinking, or not.  I was definitely on my fourth or fifth shot of something, and I wasn’t seeing straight anymore.  Stacy was holding me up, because I think I was falling, and when I looked up to thank her, I puked everywhere.  It got all over her blouse and skirt and some even landed on her face.

            All my friends started laughing at me, and I remember laughing, too, because I didn’t completely realize what was going on. I lied down on the scratchy carpet and laughed and laughed with vomit all over my shirt. Finally, one of my more sober friends dragged me to the toilet, where I promptly puked more.  Apparently, I asked where Stacy went off to, and if she still wanted to hang out.  Most of this was related to me the next day, while I was nursing a champion hangover.

            For the rest of senior year, I tried drinking at parties for the rest of high school when I wasn’t the designated driver, but by the time I got to college it was starting to occur to me that my stomach couldn’t really handle alcohol very well.  Even when I only got tipsy, I would end up puking. And no matter how much water I drank, I would have a head-splitting hangover the next morning.  After my sophomore year of college, spent puking my bodyweight, I drank only occasionally.  And when I started dating Jace in my junior year, I found out she wasn’t much for drinking either, so we had that in common.  As we grew up and became a family, we decided that we would not forbid our children to drink (since that would just entice them to do it behind our backs), but we would be honest about our experiences and encourage them to make their own informed decisions.

            When each of our daughters turned thirteen, we talked to them about drugs and drinking, giving them each the same spiel, which was basically: “Hey, drinking has its dangers, and you should always be aware of how much alcohol you consume and keep yourselves�"and your friends�"safe.  Alcohol can become addictive, and can really hurt your body. That being said, it can also be enjoyed in small, safe doses.  But drugs are bad. Please, for the love of God, don’t mess with drugs.  You never know how they’ll affect you and they can seriously harm you even in small doses, so just stay far, far away from drugs.  And cigarettes.” Something like that. 

The girls reacted very differently.  Alli seemed a little excited for this talk to happen, and was on the edge of her seat the whole time.  She had a ton of questions that made it seem as though she’d already been talking with her friends (or others) about this subject (“Is weed okay? I heard weed is okay.” “Is wine liquor?” “I heard that the worst stuff if the stuff you put into your arm. Or nose.”).  Although Jace and I were a little surprised by how much she already knew to ask, we answered each question truthfully and made sure not to embarrass her.  Heather, on the other hand, seemed terribly uncomfortable and kept her head down almost the entire time, barely making eye contact.  When we asked if she had any questions about anything we said, she shook her head, mumbled a “thank you” and bolted to her room.

Jace feels pretty confident that if either girl is in trouble or is peer pressured, they’ll come to us.  I hope she’s right.




So this Friday night in March, I’m sitting on the twelve-year-old couch in the living room grading student papers waiting to hear from Alli.  She left around eight to spend time with Caroline, but I haven’t heard from her since, and usually I get a text by now if she’s not home. Most of the time, Jace and I don’t give her a strict curfew.  We tell her to text us with plans, and they’re usually reasonable plans, so we agree.  But since Alli has been so hostile and moody lately, we’ve begun to set some limits.  Tonight Jace made it very clear to Alli that she was to be home by ten, and not a minute later.

It is now 10:05. I reach for my phone to text my daughter for the seventh time.  I’m never going to get through these papers. 


To Alli:

Allison Mae, you need to come home right this instant.


            This didn’t used to be a problem.  “This” being Alli staying out without calling or texting her parents. But one night, a couple weeks ago, she didn’t come home when she said she was going to go out with another friend from school, Erica.  This girl even came to pick Alli up, so we knew she was safe with someone.  Alli texted me around nine and said that she’d be home soon, so Jace and I went to sleep, trusting Alli to come home as usual.  When we woke up, Jace went upstairs to check on Alli �" making sure she got home okay.  But when she came downstairs saying that our daughter didn’t come home the previous night, I nearly choked on my coffee.

            After a few minutes of considering calling the police, Alli stumbled in through the front door. Jace and I were in the dining room, but my wife made a beeline towards Alli, both concerned and furious.

            “Where the hell have you been, Alli?” She demanded, while I stayed in the dining room, letting Jace handle this.  After all, she was the first one to move. Also, she knows how to be stern and firm, and I tend to not be so good at that part.  It’s a point of contention with the two of us, because she basically thinks that she handles all the hardest situations that arise with parenting.  I have tried to explain to her that she’s just better at that stuff than I am, but that’s not good enough for her.

            Alli looked up at her mother, her generally bright, lively eyes were cloudy and dull.  “Sorry,” she mumbled, unable to keep eye-contact with Jace as she practically fell asleep standing up, “I was just out…”

            “Out where?” Jace demanded.  At this point, I set my coffee down and walked to Jace’s side to show that I wanted to help.

            “With friends…” Alli looked up, as if the answers were written on the ceiling.

            “Which friends? I thought you were just with Erica?” I could hear Jace’s voice rising, so I put my arm on her shoulder to try to calm her.  She shook me off.

            “No,” Alli shook her head slowly, then stopped, “Wait, yes.”

            “But you said friends �" plural. Who else?” I asked.

            She just shook her head, and Jace shot me a look, which I interpreted as “back down.”  So I did and let Jace handle everything as usual.  Later, she yelled at me for not being there to back her up when she was scolding Alli.  She also told me she could smell cigarette smoke on Alli’s clothes and hair, but was willing to believe she was just around smokers and was not smoking herself.

            “Maybe we should ask her?” I suggested.

            Jace gave me this look like I had said something repulsively stupid. “Yes, I figured that one out on my own, Greg.”

            “I was just saying we should ask before assuming one way or the other,” I clarified.

            “Yeah, I’m aware,” her voice was sharp and sounded a lot like Alli’s had been over the past couple of months.

            “Okay,” I nodded, unsure of what else to say, “Good.”

            “I still don’t understand why you have to leave all of  the parenting to me,” she sighed, still glaring at me.

            “I don’t leave the parenting to you. I leave the scolding to you, because you’re much better at it than I am,” I tried to explain, “And you always seem so on top of it.”

            “Yeah, well,” she shrugged, “Learn.”


            I’m jolted back to the present situation by a text.  I immediately assume it’s from Alli, and am confused as to why my phone says I’ve received a text from Heather, who I assume is up in her bed right now.



From Heather:

     any wrd? cnt sleep.


     I smile at the text, and find the combination of sisterly concern and laziness endearing.


            To Heather:

     No, not yet.


            In a little under a minute, I hear Heather walking downstairs, and soon see her walking into the living room.

            “Hey,” she yawns as she sits on the couch next to me.

            “I think you’re not trying hard enough to go to sleep,” I suggest playfully.

            She c***s her head to the side (something she definitely learned from Alli), “What do you mean?” She brings her knees up to her chin�"another Alli-ism.

            I scoot over so she can extend her legs onto the couch. “That yawn showed off your tonsils. You’re obviously tired.”

            She smiles her Heather smile, “Yeah, maybe,” she concedes as she gathers her short hair into a loose ponytail, “But I have trouble sleeping when Alli isn’t home.”

            I cast her a confused look, “That wasn’t always true.”

            “Yeah, I know,” she shrugs, “But now…”

            “No, I agree,” I nod, “I can’t sleep when she’s gone, either.”

            Heather scoffs, “Yeah, but you’re our dad. Of course you can’t sleep.”

            “And you’re her sister, which is why you can’t sleep.”


            We’re quiet for a while as Heather fiddles with that phone Jace and I bought her for her thirteenth birthday.

            I take a moment to look at her and notice how much she looks like her mother.  Jace used to have shoulder-length wavy hair just like that, but Heather’s is a darker brown.  They both have the same freckles dancing across their cheekbones and noses.  Heather’s face is round like mine, though, while Alli’s is longer and thinner like her mother’s.  The only thing that doesn’t fit is the shape of Heather’s eyes.  Hers are sort of almond-shaped, while we all have rounder eyes.  Because of this, Heather always looks a little sly, almost like a fox. I hope she doesn’t start lying to us too much.  I won’t be able to tell if she does with those eyes.

            “What’re you doing?” I ask after a few minutes.

            She sighs and shakes her head, a tendril of hair falls to frame her face, “I was trying to text Alli, and she obviously hasn’t responded,” she rolls her eyes, “And I tried texting Caroline�"” She sits up, scanning her phone with her eyes.

            “Heath-Bar, what happened? What’s wrong?” Suddenly I find myself praying Alli isn’t texting from a ditch she’s fallen into.  Who would find her limp body at half past midnight

            Heather gives me her phone to look at, mouth slightly agape.


            From Caroline Dawson:

     Wait, she isn’t home yet? She left two hours ago saying that she needed to get back. Have you tried calling or texting her?


     Heather and I meet eyes. “Crap,” she mutters.

            “Yeah,” I nod slowly, “Crap.”

            Heather begins texting Caroline back once I hand over the phone, and in no time, she responded.

            “Caroline says she’ll let us know immediately if she hears anything from Alli,” Heather relays, letting her hair down then putting it back up again.

            Suddenly she gets off the couch and sits on the floor, her legs in the butterfly position.

            “Okay, what are you doing?” I laugh as she bends forward and rests her elbows on the floor.

            “Stretching,” she says as she slowly lowers the top half of her body downwards.

            “Right, I get that,” I say, “But why are you stretching right now?”

            “I forgot to earlier,” she says, her voice muffled by the carpet, “And I figure I’m gonna be up for a bit waiting for Alli.”

            I nod as she transitions into another stretch. “How’s soccer going, by the way?”

            “Great!” She exclaims through what looks like a grimace of pain, “Coach wants me to go to another soccer camp this summer.”

            “Yeah? Well, I don’t see why that couldn’t happen.”

            We’ve sent Heather to soccer camp every summer for the past five years.  They’re usually pretty expensive, but she has gotten a full scholarship each summer.  I can’t imagine this summer would be any different.

            “Hey, can I ask you something?” Heather asks from another strange stretching position.

            “Of course, Heath Bar! What’s up?”

            She untangles herself and sits cross-legged at my feet.  The TV is against the wall across from me, and it’s distorting the reflection Heather’s back.  She looks so wide, but in reality she seems so small and compact.  Like the way she’s sitting now.  When she engages her good posture, she looks tall and lean.  But when she’s huddled and nervous, she’s so much smaller.

            “Maybe it’s not really a question…” She starts to pull on the carpet, taking up little pieces then tossing them aside.

            She sighs and falls backwards so her legs are still crossed, but her back is pressed to the floor. “I’ve just been feeling so… pressured lately,” she finally gets out, then closes her eyes, presumably out of embarrassment.

            “Pressured?” I’m honestly confused.

            “Ugh, nevermind,” Heather groans and stands up and starts to walk towards the stairs.

            “Wait, no, talk to me!” I say and pat the couch as gesture for her to come sit next to me.

            She looks over at me then gives in. “Okay. It’s just that lately I’ve been feeling so weird about Alli going all nuts-o and it’s like you and Mom both expect me to make up for it by being the good daughter…”

            She trails off, but I understand what she’s saying. “Heather, your mother and I love you and your sister both so very much. And even though Alli is in a weird place right now, I don’t ever want you to feel like we are expecting anything more from you because of it.”

            But Heather no longer seems interested in talking about this anymore, and just gives me a quick smile. “Okay, thanks.”

            She looks like she’s considering sitting next to me on the couch for a moment, but instead waves and says, “G’night, Dad. Love you.”

            “I love you, too, sweetheart,” I call after her form moving its way up the stairs.

            That was weird. I go back to the couch to check my phone and see that I still don’t have any texts or calls from Alli. Why am I not surprised?




            About forty-five minutes after Heather put herself to bed, I hear a car door slam outside, and loud giggling. Alli.

            I go to the front door, watching her making her way to the house from the driveway.  She is stumbling around a lot, and can’t keep her head up. Her arms are stretched out to the side as if she’s desperately trying to keep balance.  She’s laughing and giggling and hiccupping.  Her hair obviously used to be in a ponytail, but is falling out of her hair band and sloppily covering half her face.  It looks like it’s sticking to her skin. I wonder if she got beer spilled on her.

            Before she gets to the door, I walk outside to help her in. When she sees me she tries to keep a straight face, but bursts out laughing again.  I put my arms around her, and look back at the car in which she arrived.  I can’t see the driver. I get scared that whoever it is might be drunk, so I get Alli to the door then rush to the car before it could pull away.

            “Excuse me?” I knock on the window, and the person inside rolls it down.

            “Yes?” The young woman says from inside.  She looks to be a bit older than Alli; a senior, maybe.  She looks pretty sober, but she also looks incredibly nervous because the father of her incredibly drunk friend is knocking on her car window.

            “I don’t really care who you are,” I say honestly, “I just want to know if you’re drunk.”

            She’s obviously taken aback by my bluntness, but answers anyway, “No, sir. I was the designated driver for tonight. You can smell my breath if you’d like…”

            I shake my head, refusing her offer, “No, you seem fine. Thanks for getting her home.” I start to move away, but then am pissed off enough to add, “Oh, and thanks for getting my sixteen-year-old daughter stupidly drunk. You seem like a great friend.” I lightly slap the passenger’s side and walk away before she could retort.  How about that for confrontation, Jace? Granted, I was running on adrenaline, but it was still effective.

            When I get back to the house, Alli is sitting in the entrance hall laughing to herself.

            “Everyone else is sleeping, so be quiet,” I whisper, trying not to recoil at the smell of alcohol on my drunk daughter’s breath.

            “Why so sleepy?” Alli asks, looking confused for a second, before laughing again.

            “Because it’s nearly 2 am, that’s why,” I hiss, as I stand her up and move her to the couch, then kneel down so I can be at her level.  She flops backwards as if her bones are jelly.  I helped her remove her jacket and immediately see bruises starting to form on her forearms.

            I reach out and lightly touch one of the smaller brown bruises, “Where are these from?”

            Alli turns her head to see what I’m looking at, her hair falling away so I can see her face, “Oh! I falled.”

            “You falled.”

            “Mm-hmm! I was walking,” she stops the story and looks up to think, “And then I wasn’t walking,” she finishes and points at her other bruises.

            When she looks me in the eyes again, she has another giggle-fit that she tries to control by putting her hand over her mouth.

            Abruptly, the giggles stop, and her eyes grow big. “Uh-oh.”

            I stand up, somewhat alarmed.

            “My tummy hurts,” she clarifies, and I’m instantly walking her to the bathroom as quickly as she’s allowing me.  The hall to the bathroom from the living room is tiled and fairly small.  It’s big enough for two people, but it’s a bit of a squeeze with Alli not able to control most of her movements. 

            “We’re almost to the bathroom,” I mutter, trying to get her to walk with a little more urgency.

            “Daddy, my tummy hurts,” she repeats, and I can hear a slight gurgle in her voice.

            Once we’re finally in the bathroom, she rushes to the toilet but murmurs something and doesn’t throw-up.

            “What?” I ask, walking towards her.

            “Hold back my hair,” she repeats, whining.

            Years ago when Alli was in first grade, she got a twenty-four-hour stomach bug, puking every hour on the hour.  Jace took care of her for the morning, but was called into work, so I came home to take care of our daughter in the afternoon.  I spent a lot of time holding her hair back and trying to murmur soothing things to her.  But now, it’s a completely different context, and this time instead of fatherly affection I feel annoyed and somewhat alarmed.

            I stand next to Alli and gather her hair in my hands, “Okay, I’ve got it,” I assure her.

            She unleashes a torrent of vomit directly into the toilet bowl, which I appreciate.  Wherever she was, she must have had a ton to eat, because this wasn’t stopping. Also, what the hell did she drink? By the smell, I’d say a fair amount of Vodka. I rub her back, both furious and annoyed with her, but also becoming more sympathetic to what she’s going through.  This was like the kind of drunk I used to get, and although all I want to do is tell her what an idiot she was, I still get it.

            After a while of Alli emptying her stomach, I fill up a glass of water using the bathroom sink, and force it into her hands.

            “Sip this,” I say, “Very slowly. Can you hold the glass?” She nods and I force it into her hands, then flush the toilet a few times. I’m thankful my bedroom with Jace is on the other side of the house.  I wouldn’t want to wake her up for this.

            The first sip Alli tries to take misses her mouth, and ends up on her jeans.  The next is successful, and as she gently sips her water, I lean on the bathroom counter and just stare at her.  As far as I knew, she’s never gotten drunk before, or at least not this drunk.  I take her in as she sits on the bathroom floor, cradling the glass of water as if it were a precious life.  I realize, for the first time, that she’s wearing almost all green.  Her tank top, necklace, bracelets, even her jeans have splashes of green glitter.  Her face is streaked with what used to be green eye make-up, but has now run down to her cheeks.

            “Saint Patrick’s Day,” I say.

            She snaps her head up to look at me as though she forgot I was there, then nods. But then her eyes get wide, and I know she’s about to puke again. I lunge forward to grab her hair and the glass of water. I get most of her hair out of her face.  How can there be so much vomit in such a small person?

            “You went out with your friends and got disgustingly drunk because it’s Saint Patrick’s Day,” I’m slowly shaking my head, somewhat astonished at the novelty of it.  She stops retching and I let go of her hair and stand back.

            “They wouldn’t let us in the bar unless we were wearing green,” she slurred, nodding her head. She reaches for the glass, and I nudge it into her hand. She takes another small sip and hiccups.

            “But you’re too young to get into a bar regardless of what you’re wearing,” I argue, but even as I’m finishing the sentence, I know how she got in.

            She just continues nodding and sipping, not really in on the conversation anymore.

            She must have purchased a fake ID somehow, and she doesn’t exactly look sixteen.  I mean, I wouldn’t ever take her for twenty-one, but Alli has always been mistaken for older than she is.  It used to scare her mother, because she was so afraid some older man would mistake Alli for a college student and charm her, but that never happened.  But we did keep a close eye on who she was spending time with, just in case she started to run with an older crowd.  But she had always seemed to stick with her high school friends, which was a load off our minds.  She also used to do her homework, too.

            “Where did you get the fake?” I ask.

            Alli looks a little surprised at first, but is either too drunk or too tired to care that her father is asking, “A friend of a friend,” she answers, and smiles as if she’s just told a funny joke only she understands.

            “Which friend?” I press, wondering if Caroline or Adam had anything to do with this.  If Caroline did, then I would be concerned for her.  But if Adam was there… well, honestly, I have mixed feelings about that.  The kid seems nice, and he really seems to like Alli, so maybe he was there for protection against any unwanted attention.  But he was also there watching my daughter get drunker and drunker and obviously not doing anything about it.

            “Daphne,” she says, her eyelids drooping.

            “Daphne?” So neither Caroline nor Adam.

            “Yeah… she’s in my grade… Daphne.”

            “Is that the girl who drove you home?”


            She’s starting to fall asleep on the bathroom floor, so I quit the interrogation.  I walk over to her and stand her up, taking the empty glass in my other hand.  We begin walking very slowly out of the bathroom, but by the time we get to the stairs on the other side of the living room, we’re picking up speed and she can walk a little faster.

            “Thanks, Dad…” she mumbles, nearly asleep.

            I don’t answer.  What do I say? You’re welcome, honey, for taking care of you when you’re drunk off your a*s. Maybe the worst part is that I’m not even that surprised.  A year ago, I would’ve been absolutely shocked and confused, but considering how she’s been acting lately, I guess this is be a logical step.   I just want to take care of her.  I don’t want her going out and getting smashed, but if she does, I don’t want to shame her.  But maybe I should. Maybe I should make her feel bad, but that doesn’t seem right either.  I don’t know how exactly to help her or what to do in these situations.  Granted, it’s not like I didn’t drink in high school, and it’s not like I was a bad guy.  I guess maybe she’s just experimenting.  Still, I don’t like it.

            We’re at her door, and I walk her into her room.  Once she sees her bed, she unlatches herself from my side and walks to her sheets and comforter by herself. She collapses forward, and all she says before passing out is, “Mom is going to hate me…” I want to tell her that she won’t, but I know if Jace were the one dealing with this, she would have made it much better.  Alli’s laptop is dinging with IMs even this late at night. Maybe Jace was right to take it away from her.




            I decide to stay at her door for a little while longer, just to make sure she’s sleeping well and safe from drowning in her own vomit. I used to do this when she was a baby.  When it was time for her to sleep, I would stay in the room for a while, scared that if I left then something horrible would happen.  Once she became a toddler, I stopped doing that, becoming fairly sure that she would be just fine even without me watching out. 

            Maybe I kept my gaze away for too long, because suddenly she’s a teenager and she’s sneaking out, buying fake IDs, and getting dangerously drunk.  It’s hard enough being a father of a teenage girl and worrying about all the awful things that people could do to her, without then also worrying about the awful things she could do to herself.

© 2012 Abigail T

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Added on July 2, 2012
Last Updated on July 2, 2012
Tags: father, daughter, teenager, young adult, adolescent, sister, sibling, drunk, partying, parent


Abigail T
Abigail T

Amherst, MA

My name is Abigail, and I'm a recent college graduate now in the world to write fiction for young adults. I'm using this site to archive my work. more..

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