“Here’s a burger, Dawn.” He handed her a juicy burger with cheese, ketchup, and mustard along with a tomato slice and sat back in his chair.
His face grew solemn, and he looked down at the floor. “You know, everyone deals with this. You aren’t alone.” He looked up at her for a moment, shakily, then looked back in the floor. “For over two decades, I battled them in an unhealthy way. I began drinking heavily.” He looked back up at her then back down.
“It was the 60s and the 70s, I was an executive, and it just was what we all did. Parties, luncheons, every gathering was an opportunity to get rid of the thoughts in our head and distract ourselves. I chose alcohol for a very long time. Until I realized, I was in control…your mom helped me to realize that. It took me 8 years to work through it, but I did.”
He looked back over at her, hoping his words were getting through. “You don’t have to surrender to these thoughts or give up and drown them in some unhealthy way.”
Dawn looked down at her rounded belly and thick thighs. She knew what he meant.
“Dawn, you’ve struggled with this on and off for your entire life; what you are feeling is unhappiness with what you are doing and where you are. But reality isn’t the problem, it’s how you are approaching it… Do you understand?”
She took a deep breath. She still needed to find a way to stop them, and she was at a loss.
He slowly stood up and took her empty plate from her, then wandered back to the kitchen, rinsing off the plates. He was always fastidious about cleanliness; something she pushed aside, especially in times where she was overwhelmed. “Busy hands make for a tidy mind. Bear that in mind.” The clean plates clinked against each other as he set them back in the cabinets.
“Let’s go sit on the front porch for a bit. Don’t worry, they won’t find you here.” He opened the door and screen door. It squealed as it closed and latched back behind him.
She smiled to herself. Oh, how she missed hearing that sound. She stood up and joined him on the porch. As she looked around into the dark, little sparks of light floated in the distance. “I love how the lightning bugs are everywhere,” she reminisced. “Reminds me of Tennessee.” She sat down in the chair next to him and looked out across the valley in front of them. The stars started shining in the distance. “Thanks for bringing me here to think.”
They sat for a long time, not talking, just enjoying being in the same place for the time they could share. He reached over and took his daughter’s hand. “I’m not going to be there this time to push you and bring you back to reality. But, you know you can’t stay here either, okay?”
She sighed. It was so peaceful here. The voices stayed away and she missed him so much. But he was right. “I know. I can’t dwell like I did when I was in that dark place….the longer I stay, the harder it will be to go. I’ll head out at sunrise.”
They stood up and headed in to call it a night. He embraced his daughter in a tight hug before heading off to bed. She curled back up on the sofa and drifted off to sleep.