"I've decided I'm going to go see Dad." Lola straightened in her chair and gave her a look.
"Oh? Why?" she asked coolly. Diana shifted her eyes from her big sister. Should she tell her?
"Before I answer that, I want you to answer a question first."
"If I tell you why, will you be listening as a sister or as a psychiatrist?"
Lola laughed. "Please, Di! We're in my bedroom, not a clinic. You're not paying me to sit here with you."
"Fine, but that hasn't been because of my lack of issues."
"Oh, definitely," Lola said with sarcasm. "So will you tell me, or do I have to use my mind tricks on you?"
"Oh hell no!" she shrieked playfully as her sister tackled her and they wrestled for a few moments. She sobered after she caught her breath and sat up, her sister mimicking her movements.
"Well, I miss him." Noting Lola's incredulous look, Diana sighed and rolled her eyes. "Okay, maybe the fact that he lives in France now is a big factor."
"Do you feel like you're being selfish wanting to see him?" Lola asked gently.
"Yes." Diana squinted and stared at a spot above Lola's bookcase. "Mainly because of Mum, but..."
"But?" she prompted.
"I..." Diana hesitated. Lola made an encouraging noise. "I know it sounds stupid, but I don't want him to forget about us - I know he's married with a new family now, but I was closer to him then you and Pam, and I'm scared that he's forgotten about me or doesn't love me as much," she finished in a rush.
"Oh Di," her sister sighed, pulling her into a hug. "You big silly, you know that Dad still loves you. I don't remember you talking about this in family therapy at all."
"That was eight years ago, Lola. I was ten and Dad was still single and..." She struggled to say the words. "I kind of had a hope that he'd get back together with Mum."
"Oh Di, why didn't you say it to me or Pam?" she asked. Diana glared, so Lola decided to go back to the original topic. "Tell me why you want to see him, Diana."
Instead of answering her, Diana twirled a lock of thick, wheat-coloured hair around her finger, trying to word it in her head. She loved her sisters - they were her best friends. On a face-value level, they were very mismatched. Both Lola and Pamela were tall, towering over Diana's five foot six inches. While the twins were dark, Diana was fair; the twins were voluptuous and bubbly, and Diana was skinny and quiet. But instead of being jealous of the differences in their exteriors, the three girls had always loved each other for their unique beauty.
It was a deep friendship founded in sisterhood, respect, and trust. But Diana had no idea why she was so hesitant to tell Lola about wanting to see their dad.
"Give me a second, Doc," she grinned.
Lola gave her a little half-smile. "Take your time, then."
She really did need to get her head checked. Her subconscious was acting weird, and it was affecting her more then it should. However, she was stalling, and not because she was worried about revealing her thoughts out loud, but because she was afraid her sister - who was an amazing psychiatrist - would cure her.
"Baby, it's just me," Lola said softly, patting her hand. Diana took a deep breath and began.
"See, well, I had this dream the other night." She picked at her nail polish.
"A dream?" Lola asked. "Tell me about it."
"I was in the country somewhere." She stopped, then corrected herself. "Well, it was in France, I think - I was a little outside Paris, since I could see the Eiffel Tower in the distance, lit up from behind. I think it was dawn because the light was soft and different shades of pink and blue and purple," she said dreamily and then caught herself and laughed, "Sorry. I remembered that I wanted to sit down and sketch that in the dream."
"I'd want to sketch that too, but that's not the whole story."
"Well obviously it's not, but I keep being interrupted," Diana said, giving her sister an impatient look.
"Sorry. Pretend like I'm not here."
"Is that the psychiatrist talking?"
"Nope. It's your impatient sister."
Diana managed a laugh.
"I'll continue, so. Well, I was so calm and relaxed I was practically floating. I felt so light and free, it was a headrush. Then everything got weird."
"Well, it got really cold, like it was winter. Heck, it even started snowing for a few seconds, and I was carried away in a blizzard. Then I felt my feet touch the ground. When I opened my eyes, I was standing in the most incredible rose garden." Diana's voice faded with uncertainty as she thought. "Well, garden isn't the right word...it was like a forest. It was amazing, Lola. The air was drenched with the smell of roses. There were so many different types and colours…." She sighed happily.
"Don't you have a bit of an obsession with roses?"
Lola's question was a shock to her system. She prickled with defence.
"No, I don't. Roses are lovely flowers and I just happen to like them, just as much as you like your job or Pamela likes her girlfriend or Mum likes-"
"Okay, point taken," she said, holding her hands up, "But you have to admit it's a bit weird that roses, in some form, appear in your dreams."
"Why? I work part-time at the community rose garden. I grow my own roses. Why wouldn't something that's been a big part of my life not be in my dreams?"
"Okay, I get your point."
"I'm sorry I'm touchy. I'm not getting a lot of sleep."
Lola's expression changed to worry. "You're not sleeping?"
"Lola, look, it's nothing," Diana said soothingly. "I've been staying up too late."
Don't ask me any more questions, she thought, glancing at her sister.
"What?" she asked.
"The rose garden that was a forest?"
"And things were getting weird."
"Oh yeah." Diana leaned back against the wall, remembering. "For a bit, I wandered, touching the roses and whatnot, just enjoying myself." Her smile wavered, and she paused.
"Go on. You're not embarrassed, are you?"
Diana's cheeks went pink. "A litte."
"Get over it and give me details. If all else fails, I'm a professional."
"Don't start," Diana mumbled, rubbing her face. "Fine. I'm with the roses and then suddenly it's night. I couldn't see much, but I saw someone walking on the path just ahead of me. I followed them and we stopped at a huge rose tree in the middle of a meadow. The person in front of me - I think it was a man - went and picked one of the roses. But the second he did, there was a really loud roar and I had to cover my ears. Next thing I knew, the guy's pinned to the dirt, and there's a big black shape over him and a knife being pressed to his face."
Diana forced her breathing to slow down. She was shaking.
"Were you scared?" Lola asked, rubbing her hand.
"Terrified," she whispered. "Helpless. I just froze to the spot and didn't move. I couldn't tell what the two were talking about at all. Their voices were too low, but they made a deal, and the guy on the ground wasn't happy about it."
"Wow," Lola said, wide-eyed. "But what does this have to do with Dad?"
Diana's gaze turned opaque as she remembered.
"The guy with the knife pressed to his face was Dad."
Lola cleared her throat. "Diana, you know that Dad is perfectly safe."
"I could see his face, Lo. He was even more scared then I was, terrified even. I'm worried that something's happened to him." In her mind, she admitted that she wanted to see him as well, try to find out what was so great about his new family that kept him away from them. It'd been years since she had seen him. She glanced at her sister. "So, how nuts am I?"
"Di, 'nuts' is not a medical term."
"All jokes aside, Di, I need to know how this is making you feel."
Diana took her time answering.
"It makes me sad. Nervous. Afraid. Curious. Sometimes, I think I'm stuck in an emotional whirlpool and it makes my head hurt." She bit her lip. "Is that weird?"
"No, that's perfectly normal. I'm happy that you decided to share this with me. My professional opinion is that your imagination is working overtime because you're way too stressed about picking a college and Mum getting a new boyfriend."
"That's what you'd tell a client?"
"Obviously not. Look, don't panic. If this is really bothering you, I can ring Dad and ask if you can fly over and stay with him for a while." She stood, stretching out her kinks. "If anything, you'll have a really nice holiday and maybe meet up with a gorgeous French boy. Or girl."
"Stop trying to poke into my love life! Or lack thereof," Diana protested, her cheeks pink again.
"Don't be a prude, darling. That cherry has to get popped eventually, as our charming sister would say." Lola leaned down and gave her a quick, hard hug. "Don't stress. Just relax and start practising your French - Dad'll be delighted that you want to see him."
Diana groaned. "Now I wish I hadn't told you."
"Stop it. It needed to be said, and you need to unwind."
"I'm not stressed."
"Yeah, I've heard that before."
"Fine. Let's make the damn call."