Thursday, June 27, 2013
Dr. Dad caught me crying yesterday. I was sitting with Mom, who had fallen asleep. As I was trying to get the motivation to stand up and walk the distance to Esak’s room, I had a weak spell. I huddled on my chair, tears pouring down my cheeks as a wash of pure sadness walloped me.
I didn’t know he’d walked into the room until I heard his concerned voice speak my name from right behind me. “Shalia?”
There was no hiding my pain from my Kalquorian dad. I couldn’t even find the strength to wipe my eyes and pretend I’d been crying because I was so relieved Mom and Esak would be okay. I just sat there and shook.
He picked me up and cradled me like a baby in his arms. Then he carried me to his office. He sat on the edge of his desk and rocked me. Dad didn’t say a word. He simply held me and let me cry until I finally got enough control over myself to stop.
Finally he said, “It’s been a rough time, hasn’t it?”
That got me going again. Dad took his com out of his belt pouch and spoke into it. A few moments later, an orderly came in with an injector. I didn’t have the will to resist as he pressed it to my neck. Then he left me and Dad alone again.
Seconds later, the depression lifted. It was like the first sunlight after a long, dark night. I felt calm. Good, in fact. I stopped crying.
“Better?” Dad asked me.
“Tons,” I told him. My head rested against the hollow of his shoulder. This was the safest I’d felt in forever. “Hide the blasters from me. I might go on a crime spree, stealing your supply of that stuff.”
He chuckled and hugged me tight. “Let’s talk about what’s making you hurt. All of it.”
I don’t know if whatever they’d given me loosens tongues as well as makes the pain go away, but I spilled my guts. I talked and talked, telling Dad all my fears about leaving, how one second I wanted to join Dusa’s clan so I wouldn’t lose them, and the next second I was terrified it would be a huge mistake. I talked about all my fears for Mom. About how hard it was going to be to leave Earth, even though it was dying. About having no idea about what the future held. I fretted and whined nonstop for what felt like forever.
Dad let me talk myself out, until I’d covered and re-covered all the terror and pain I’d kept stored up. There was never any sign of judgment, no impatient interrupting, no condescending and meaningless words of comfortless reassurance. He listened, nodded, and held me like I’d always wished my own parents would. I even told him I thought of him as my father, that I called him Dr. Dad in my head. He smiled at me and blinked hard, as if fighting his own tears.
“I would be honored to have you for a daughter, Shalia,” he said. His palm pressed against my cheek, and I leaned into its warmth.
Finally I ran out of words. For awhile Dad said nothing, letting me settle into the silence and comfort of being held and not being so unhappy.
When he did speak, his voice was quiet. “I can only imagine how adrift you feel. Your old life is gone, your present life is a shambles, and you have no way of knowing things are going to get better. Those you share strength with are about to be left behind. Of course you’re miserable, Shalia. Anyone in your place would feel the same.”
“I feel pretty good right now,” I told him. “Your drugs are awesome.”
He laughed at my silliness. “I’m going to have you continue to take something for a little while. At least until you get some measure of stability again. Meanwhile I want to give you something to think about, daughter of my heart.”
“You are in the care of the Kalquorian Empire now. You may feel like you’re on the edge of a cliff, ready to fall at any moment. But though you can’t see it, there is a safety net beneath you. As long as you remain with us, you will be kept as safe as we are able. Your mother will get the care she needs. You have all the trip to Kalquor plus the two years you remain in the lottery to decide on your future. During that time, we will take care of you; your shelter, food, all the basic needs. And though you’ll be leaving behind those of us involved in the rescue effort, you can contact me whenever you wish. I’m sure Dusa and his clan will tell you the same goes for them.”
I hadn’t thought of that. I would be able to com the friends I’d made here. Though we’d have so much distance apart, I could still see and hear them.
So my far-off future remains uncertain. I have time to figure it out before it gets here. Okay, I could handle that. And though Earth was still a corpse waiting to happen, I could handle the grief tied to that with everything else turning out to be not so horrendous.
“You should have been a dad for real,” I told Nayun. “You’re really good at it.”
He laughed. “Thank you. Are you ready to face the world again?”
I slid off his lap. “Shalia Monroe, reporting for duty, sir. Ready to go back into battle.” A wave of sentimentality broke over me as I looked at Dad who smiled at me with pride I doubt I deserved. I flung my arms around his neck. “Thank you, Dad,” I whispered in his ear.
“You’re welcome, my daughter. Promise me you won’t let it get so bad next time. Talk to me before you start to fall apart again.”
I kind of hate depending on the anti-depressant he put me on, but I don’t want to be immobilized like I was. So I’m being a good girl and taking it as ordered. It’s keeping me strong for Mom and Esak and everyone else who needs me, so I’m willing to do what I have to. Dad says we’ll revisit my emotional state in a week with a counselor and see if I can handle life again without the chemical help.
I think of all the Kalquorians I’ve met, Nayun is the most important. Even more than Dusa and Esak. He really is the dad I was meant to have.