For how long I wandered about the city endlessly in my train of thoughts, I did not know. I just wanted to be alone and as far away from reality as I could possibly be. Walking around and catching a glimpse of other people's lives, I coudln't help but feel envious.
One woman I saw, with her two little kids as they chattered about in happiness to their mother about school. I saw so many other people like her, leading perfectly joyful lives with their own families. Why must He have given me one such as this?
By the time I walked back to the hospital, it was half past eight. I felt hungry, spasms shooting through my stomach from time to time as a punishment for having had no meal for the day. But what I was going through felt like nothing compared to that hunger. So I ignored it, just like I did with many other things in my life.
Once I back in the sickening atmosphere of the hospital, I found myself walking quickly through the long strips of halls, hoping to hear some better news on the status of Dakota. My hopes were short-lived.
Seeing Melissa, she looked even more dreadful than she had before. Dark circles hung below her eyes which were red and puffy. But the first thing I noticed was that Nadia wasn't with her.
"At your apartment," she answered without my having to complete the sentence. "You don't look so good. You should go home as well," she added and I shook my head.
"I don't want to. It's better if I stay here."
"Thomas," she said, using the full version of my first name as she stood up and walked over to me. "You need your rest. If you don't take care of your health, you might go into the same condition that Dakota is in now."
"I might as well die," I said sourly. The moment those words left my mouth, I felt a hot sting come over the left side of my face as Melissa slapped me. Taking a step back, I stared at her in surprise. She broke down into tears, hiding her face from me as she let them fall into her hands.
"You might not notice but you're like family to me! I can't lose you, not after I lost my own!"
Without another word, I stepped forward and pulled Melissa into my arms. She sobbed into my chest as I carressed the back of her head comfortingly. "Of course you won't. Just calm down."
It took her a while as I held her in my embrace but Melissa had always been the strong one. She'd always been insistent on holding up a strong exterior though her life was shattered as mine. She just had better ways of handling it.
Eventually, she pushed me away, looking embarrassed. Before I could say anything further, she said, "If you respect my feelings and my words, you should go back to your apartment and check on Nadia."
I groaned. "You're pulling out your card on me now?"
She gave me a stern look, crossing her arms in front of her chest. "She needs you Tom, and you should be there for her now as a father. I'll stay in with Dakota for tonight, or any other night you need me but your priority should be on Nadia. She's your daughter."
I sighed and nodded, knowing Melissa was right. She always was. That's how I found myself leaving the hospital and catching a cab to take me home. I didn't know what was waiting for me back home; a rejection from Nadia or a chance to be a really good father?
The world didn't make much sense to me. If only it did...