The English Teacher

Sample Short Story #1


NEWS OF A KIDNAPPING by Suzanne B

They began to shovel mounds of earth on top of his casket as teardrops fell from my eyes. I was ten years old. I scooped up a handful of dirt and dropped it in his resting place. As the rough, moist, brown specks left my hands, so did the invincible feeling I had for as long as I could remember. It was a cold morning in late November. In fact, that whole month had been unseasonably cold, and I have never been able to forget the sequence of events that took place.

I was riding down our long, narrow, dirt driveway in my parents’ black sedan, driven by one of our chauffeurs, Paco. He had just picked me up from my privileged, American school. It was the first Thursday in November and so far it had just been like any other day. We were going down our driveway escaping from a Colombian village and easing into a very “American” part of Bogotá. Whenever I was in this “Americanized” part of the city I forgot that I was in Colombia and pretended that I was still in the states.

Paco pulled up to our white Beverly Hills style home, dropped me off at the front steps, and continued on to park the sedan. With my backpack slung over my shoulders and messy pigtails bouncing, I entered my house to find my mother sobbing in the arms of my nanny, Estella. Something was wrong, I suspected, and whatever it was I assumed it could not be fixed. My mother couldn’t even look at me, although she knew I was there, standing beside her impatiently wondering what was the matter. Growing up, it seemed to me that things around my house were always a little tense- not between my parents but because of my dad’s job, the reason we had moved to Colombia in the first place. My dad was the Chief Executive Officer of one of the seventeen American oil companies in Colombia. My mother always worried about my father going to work everyday because she said, “The drug lords didn’t like him”. I was always told never to go anywhere by myself especially outside our “American-like Bogotá”. I was very sheltered while growing up because of what my mother called “the drug wars”. She always told me things in a way that I could understand them, but I had no idea what a drug lord was until that horridly vivid day in November. I stepped closer to my mother, wondering whether or not I should put an arm around her or something, just incase she hadn’t seen me come in. Instead I spoke in a cheery, optimistic voice, “Hey mom, I’m home!”

My mother finally lifted her face from Estella’s arms and managed to focus her teary eyes at me. She managed a small crook in the corners of her mouth that I guessed was her best attempt at a smile. My mother motioned for me to sit down by nodding her head and holding out her arm. I sat on a red velvet covered armchair in the entry parlor, the room my mother always had friends sit in to play cards. As I sat down and placed my backpack on the floor beside me, my mother cleared her throat and prepared to speak to me. I knew that whatever she said would not be pleasing, but that she would try to tell me in the best way she possibly could.

“Teresa, something terrible has happened to your dad today”, my mother finally managed to slowly force out in a shaky voice. I knew that my mother would tell me what happened so I didn’t even bother ask what had happened. Instead, I patiently waited for my mother to get up the courage to explain to me the worst news I had ever received.

“Well, do you remember me telling you about the drug lords and how they don’t like dad very much?” my mother spoke in a voice like a teacher speaks, slow and simple so her students can understand her.

I nodded even though I didn’t know what drug lords were. “Your dad was taken by them today at work”. With each word she said in that sentence, her voice got higher as if trying not to break down again. She was trembling.

“Taken?” I said, “like kidnapped, you mean?”

“Yes, Teresa, dad won’t be coming home tonight”. With those words my mother started to cry again and I joined her sobbing. I sat on her lap and we sobbed in each other’s arms rocking back and forth as if I were a baby and she was rocking me in a rocking chair. We stayed like this for minutes, hours, and then finally I went to my bedroom, where I cried myself to sleep.

Estella woke me up the next morning later than usual and I immediately figured that I was not going to school that day. I walked down our white carpet stairs with Estella in my pajamas and entered a great deal of commotion. I heard many voices and everyone was talking about my dad and asking questions. My mother was down there; too, sitting at the dining room table, talking to who I thought was a policeman. Estella guided me to a quiet room that was unoccupied at the moment. It was our sunroom. The room’s walls were windows so that my mother could see the sun and beautiful garden. Estella had prepared a nice breakfast for me and I ate it in the sunroom without speaking until my mother entered the room.

“Good morning, Teresa.”

“Morning mom, what is happening?”

My mom hesitated to speak for a moment as if she was telling me something I wasn’t supposed to know. Then, finally she spoke, “Teresa, the men you see here are policemen. They found your father this morning.”

I was so excited and relieved. “They did! Where is he? How is he, can I see him?” I got carried away asking so many questions and soon my voice trailed off and I realized that my mother wasn’t that excited. “He’s not okay, is he?” I asked.

“No, Teresa, he’s not and no, honey, you can’t see him.” She paused for a moment and then said, “He’s dead.”

Our sobbing started again and this time didn’t seem to end until that night. We didn’t speak. There wasn’t really anything to say. I had many questions run through my mind, but none of which my mother could answer and I knew that so I didn’t ask them.

Why did they kill my father?

Ten years have passed since I last saw my father. I have moved back to the states and am going to college in California. My mother lives up here with me. We have grown very close to each other and turn to one another for support with everything we face. I have researched the drug wars in Colombia and have learned about the drug lords. I now know what my mother was talking about when I was young. The man who was supposedly in charge of and shot my father was extradited to the United States and put on trial here.

I now have strong opinions about Americans moving to Colombia to pursue any kind of business. I lived in fear every day of the eight years I lived in Colombia, and the last couple of months I was there were filled with intense fear, anger, and hatred. I was scared of what was to come after my father was killed. I was mad at the drug lords for killing my father and I was mad at my parents for moving to Colombia. I understand the Colombian culture from research and from living there, even though it was only eight childhood years. I know enough about the drug war, the kidnappings, and what the drugs have cost Colombia to know that I never want to be a part of it all again.


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