He Said No

The man who hurt my mom and me for years said no. He didn’t want to see me, as if I was the problem.

By Amaiya Sirignano

Antione Samuel Phillips is 34, lives in Springfield, Illinois, and has 20 children, one of whom is me. He never speaks to me, which is also the case for the majority of his other children. It has been four years since my father last made an attempt to contact me besides the flimsy Facebook post he made for my birthday last year which read, “Happy 14th Birthday to my oldest. I love you Amaya Michelle!” Not only was I turning 15, but that is also not how you spell my name and he posted it a day late.

My mom got pregnant with me in her senior year of high school and gave birth to me the November after she graduated, which like many other big moments in my life, my father wasn’t there for. Two weeks after my birth, my mom caught him cheating and he left for Philadelphia where he lived until I was four. He told everyone I was an “amazing kid.” I didn’t even know what he looked like. The first time I ever remember meeting my father I was four years old. It was the summer before kindergarten, and he had just moved back to town. Soon enough my parents fell back into their old way of communication, screaming matches, but this time I was here for them, and this time they were over me. Custody, child support, and court were words in my vocabulary before princess and crown.

The decision was finally made after my father went to jail for the third time in nine months that it was probably best, I lived with my mom and did weekly visitations with my father. The smell of Chuck-E-Cheese’s game room and marijuana are what come to mind when I think of him, as I don’t think that he came to that stupid arcade room sober once. I’m not even sure why that was where we would meet each week, I just knew I wasn’t allowed to ever get into a car with him. One time he tried to get my mom to let me go with him, to which she refused. I try not to think about what happened that day, but every time I do, I still remember hearing the click of handcuffs around my mom’s wrists and the sound that the ambulance made as it drove down Elm Street in Madison Park Place.

After he got my mom a night in jail for his own greed, we went no contact for two years. I was a little kid, and I was confused why my father didn’t want to talk to me, as I didn’t understand why I couldn’t talk to him. Counselor meetings were every Wednesday night. I think I went through at least six counselors before we gave up looking for a new one. An eight-year-old isn’t great with bigger picture judgement calls, but my mom didn’t want to hold me back from being around my father, so when I asked if I could spend the night at his house she said okay. My mom has always been patient like that.

He said no. The man who hurt my mom and me for years said no. He didn’t want to see me, as if I was the problem.

I last saw my father at the McDonald’s next to Lanphier High School and across from the smoke shop on North Grand when I was 11 years old. I was visiting home when I ran into him. We talked and he told me about my newest little sibling, but I couldn’t remember if this was my 7th or 8th little sister. He’s never reached out since. Never called, texted, or even asked one of my cousins how I am. I think about him though. I think about how he’s doing, how his new family is, how I’m not fit to be a part of it, and how it might be better off this way. Somewhere deep inside me, however, is the little girl wondering why she wasn’t enough for her daddy to care.

Photo: Franchised Landscape #6 by Michael Goodin on Flickr