“Dad, you can’t stop me from moving in with my boyfriend. I’m not a child anymore,” Judith told her father.
“Look, Judith. That boy is a bad influence on you,” George assured her. “You deserve to be with someone much better than him, honey. Believe me.”
“No, Dad. You’re wrong,” Judith replied. “I’m going to go live with him soon. I love him, and he feels the same way about me.”
After losing his wife a year ago, George found it difficult to raise his daughter alone. She was a rebellious girl who had just turned 18 and never listened to him.
Every day, Judith argued with her father about one thing or another. He would try his best to teach his daughter what was right, but she would never listen to him. She wanted to move out and live independently so that her father would not interfere in her life.
The next day, George got up and knocked on Judith’s bedroom door to wake her up and take her to school. She always yelled, “I’m awake, Daddy!” but this time there was no answer.
“Judith? Are you awake?” he asked.
After a minute of waiting, George opened the door to see where his daughter was. To his surprise, he didn’t see her in her bed.
“Are you in there, Judith?” he asked aloud and headed for the bathroom. “Huh, Judith, are you taking a shower?”.
When his daughter didn’t answer, George opened the bathroom door, but the girl wasn’t there. Then he went downstairs and looked for her in the kitchen and living room, but she was nowhere to be found.
“Where did she go?” wondered Jorge. It was early and he was sure that all of Judith’s friends must have been getting ready for school at that hour.
George left his house and headed for the police station.
“My daughter is missing. The last time I saw her was yesterday,” he told an officer.
After filing a missing person’s report, George went to Judith’s school and asked her friends, but no one knew where she was.
After returning home with no clue as to his daughter’s whereabouts, George waited for the police to give her whereabouts. Days turned into weeks, but the police could not find out where Judith was.
“She must have gone to live alone somewhere,” he was told. “She’ll be back soon, don’t worry.”
As the days passed, George began to lose hope that his daughter would return. Although he missed her, he never shared his feelings with anyone and kept going to work to distract his mind. He didn’t want to think about his daughter and feel sad.
However, every time George visited a public place, he looked around in the hope of meeting Judith, but he never had any luck. Eventually, he gave up all hope of ever seeing her again.
Ten years later, George was on his way to the supermarket near his home to do his monthly grocery shopping when he was approached by a homeless woman.
“Please give me some food. I’m starving,” the woman pleaded.
George did his grocery shopping every month, but this was the first time a beggar woman had asked him for food. Deep down, he felt terrible for the lady, so he told her to wait outside.
“I’ll get you something to eat. Please wait here,” George said before entering the store.
The last ten years had changed George’s life a lot. He was no longer as active or happy as he used to be. The loss of his daughter had taken its toll on him and made him a frail, gray-haired man. The passage of time had also softened him a bit.
After buying food for the homeless woman, George left the supermarket and handed the package to the woman. “Here you go,” he told her.
“Thank you very much,” she replied and raised her head to look at George.
Suddenly, George felt his heart race. He stared at the lady wide-eyed for two seconds before asking:
“Judith? Is that you?”.
The homeless woman nodded impatiently and opened the food package. Then she pulled out a sandwich and began to gobble it down.
“Calm down. Since when don’t you eat anything?” asked George.
Although he was relieved to see his daughter before his eyes, he wanted to know where she had been these past ten years and how she had become a tramp.
“Can you meet me at the cafe? I need to talk to you,” George asked Judith.
“Sure, I’ll meet you there in five minutes,” she replied before continuing to eat.
“Dad, I ran away with my boyfriend to another city and we changed our names so you couldn’t find us,” Judith said. “I guess I should have taken your advice.”
“What did he do to you, Judith?” asked George and folded his hands.
“In the beginning, everything was beautiful, Dad. We enjoyed each other’s company and would sit together for hours watching movies, chatting and gazing at the night sky,” Judith recalled. “I used to think I had made the best decision of my life by running away with him.”
“But then he started to lose interest in me,” she continued. “He used to be gone for hours at a time and would barely speak to me when he came home. When I would ask him where he had been, he would raise his voice and fight me bitterly.”
“What happened then, Judith?” asked George.
“Then, one day, I caught him cheating on me with a neighbor,” Judith covered her face with her hands. “That was the worst day of my life, Dad. He threw me out when I confronted him, and I didn’t have the courage to come home to you.”
“You should have called me Judith,” George said.
“I couldn’t face you, Dad. I was so mean to you. I yelled at you and mistreated you,” Judith said as tears rolled down her cheeks. “After he kicked me out, I was forced to live on the streets and beg for money.”
“Oh, Judith! That must be a terrifying experience,” George expressed.
“It was, Dad. I’ve been sleeping on the street all these years,” Judith wiped away tears.
“So when did you get here, and why didn’t you come home?” asked George worriedly.
“I saved up money and recently came back to this town,” Judith said. “I came home a week ago, but you weren’t here. I thought it was a sign from God that you didn’t want me in your life, so I started living near this supermarket.”
“I will always want you in my life Judith!”. George got up and hugged his daughter before they left the cafe and headed home.
Over time, George helped Judith get her life back on track. He started by buying her new clothes, asking her to get a haircut and paying for college. He wanted to see her graduate and start working at one of the best companies in town.
“I wish I had come to you when my ex kicked me out, Dad,” Judith told her father. “I wouldn’t have wasted ten years begging on the street.”
Four years into her new life, Judith graduated at the top of her class and was hired by a top company. She soon carved out a successful career and lived happily with George until she met a bright, kind and responsible young man who made her believe in love again.