"'And so, without another being spoken
He entered a room full of glass, all broken
Which reminded him of his life, of his past
These shattering shards of broken glass.'"
I finished reading the morbid poem to my dad, who was lying listlessly on the hospital bed. I'd meant to entertain his bored mind by reading him poetry, but everything I'd read so far was really melancholy. "Sorry," I mumbled. "I guess it wasn't as good an idea as I'd thought."
Dad lifted his hand from the hospital bed, and I took it. "Dad, are you gonna be okay?" I whispered, not having to try in order to care about him. He might have been a jerk, but he was my dad, and I loved him.
"Yeah, sweetheart," Dad said, and at his words, a new burst of tears came from my eyes.
Dad had called me sweetheart!
But then, because Dad always saw fit to ruin the few happy moments we had together, Dad removed his hand from mine and sighed. "I can't wait to get out of this bed and back to work," he mumbled. "That's the only place I like being."
I stiffened and drummed my fingers on the nightstand in front of me. "Well, I'm glad you appreciate my company," I muttered, not loud enough for him to hear.
"What was that?"
I shook my head. "Nothing." I stood up. "I gotta go. Maybe Melissa would come visit you, since she seems to make you happier than Dakota and I ever will!"
Then, I stopped. The words had flowed from my mouth without so much as a by-your-leave. Running my hands through my tangled hair - I'd been neglecting my own needs in order to tend to Dad's - I sighed. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean it like that. I just wish Dakota and I could...you know...be important to you."
"You don't think you're important to me?"
I snorted. "It must all be in my head," I said, trying to lessen the blow of my words. "I mean, I know you care about us." I took a shaky breath. "But...I just wish you wouldn't work so much. We need you, too, you know. Dakota might not want to admit it, but we need a dad. I know you try your best, but if you'd just...I don't know, play a game or watch a movie or do something with us..."
"I already watched a movie with you, Nadia. I don't have time for much else."
"No time for your own children?" I shook my head. "That's messed up, Dad." Without further ado, I strode from the hospital room, shoving my feelings deep inside once again.
I knew that sometime, the straw would break the camel's back (as the old saying went), and that I would lose it and let out all these emotions I'd been bottling inside myself. But for now, the safest thing was to store all my feelings inside. A breakdown was inevitable, but all I cared about was making it through the moment.
As nurses and doctors passed me, I scanned the faces of each person I saw on my way out of the hospital. Some of them had blank expressions on their faces; a few were smiling. But the most common emotion I saw on their faces was the stressed-out look I'd seen on my dad's face more times than I cared to count.
"When I get older and have a college degree and a job, I will not be like all these people, who turn into workaholics and don't stop to appreciate beauty," I muttered, getting into my car. I turned the key in the ignition, then glanced behind me to make sure I wouldn't back up onto any humans or anything.
As I drove home, I finally let more tears fall. The song on the radio was all about needing love, and frankly, it wasn't helping my mood. I found a song about anger, and I turned it up, full blast, screaming out the lyrics even though it was the first time I'd heard the song.
I sat in the car in my driveway for a long time, not wanting to go in and see Dakota. He'd probably be his insufferable self when I walked into the house.
Eventually, though, I had to go inside. As soon as I opened the door, I saw I was right: Dakota was stalking around the house with a mad expression on his face. When he saw me, he yelled, "What were you thinking?"
Oh, great. Here we go...