The Perfect Family

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Adrian and Ava

Adrian groaned when Ava bound into his room, screaming about something.

"Ava, what do you want now?" Adrian asked, not even bothering to open his eyes to look at his child.

"It's noon daddy. I'm hungry and nobody else is here." Ava says, jumping up onto her father's bed. She was all to used to this weekend routine.

Ava could get up whenever she wanted to and her grandma would have left food on the counter for her to eat, but there was nothing she could do for lunch. Being only 8, Ava couldn't very well make herself something for lunch. She couldn't reach anything in the kitchen, and didn't know how to make anything yet.

"Daddy, please get out of bed. I'm hungry." Ava says, making her small hands into fists and hitting her father in the chest.

"I'm getting up now darling. Just go wait in the kitchen for me to get there. I'll be there soon, I promise." Adrian says, finally cracking open his eyes.

"Okay. I'm coming back if you don't get up." Ava replies, jumping down from the bed and running toward the kitchen.

An hour later, Adrian has made Ava something to eat for lunch, and made sure she had enough snacks for the rest of the day. Adrian loved his daughter to death, but he loved getting high more.

So out he went to get his next fix. Out into the world without making sure his daughter would be okay until somebody was there to watch her.

Without a backward glance, Adrian was out the door to meet up with his dealer. All he could think about was his next high, his next window of feeling like nothing would hurt him.

Heroin, Adrian's drug of choice, made everything better for him for a few hours. As long as he kept shooting up, nothing could go wrong. As long as the needle pierced his skin, as long as the honey liquid enters his veins, everything in the world will right itself.

Even though the crashing fall of withdrawal is worse than anything Adrian could ever imagine, he still chased the next high. In order to fly you must fall, after all.

In the long hours between Ava's father leaving and her grandparents coming home from their jobs, Ava tried not to cause trouble. Normally she would eat whatever Adrian made for her, then watch something on TV while she was waiting for other people to arrive.

Ava wouldn't tell her grandparents how long she had been there, wouldn't tell them she knew what Adrian was doing. No matter how often he left Ava alone in the giant mansion she called home, Ava still loved her father. She still kept her promise not to tell anyone about how Adrian left her alone. Ava was a smart little girl, and she knew her father was doing something he wasn't supposed to, but she didn't know exactly what.

Still, Ava didn't tell anyone in her family. Even her favorite uncle, James, wasn't privy to the information. Ava just wanted her father to love her and keep her safe like her friend's fathers did. Ava wanted her father to see her and not something else outside.

Ava just wanted to be loved by the one person she loved more than anyone else. Her father was the one person who never seemed to be completely interested in what Ava had to say, and as much as Ava disliked it, that made her hurt. No, Ava would never be able to tell you why it made her sad her father wouldn't pay attention to her, but she knew that it hurt. She knew that's not what you should do to your child.

Adrian, on the other hand, thought that he was giving Ava as much attention as any parent should. He thought letting her do whatever she wanted to was good for her. Adrian also saw that this system made it simple for him to be able to leave her for hours at a time without any regrets or remorse. As much as Adrian loved Ava, he undoubtedly loved getting high more.

More than anything else, Ava craved love and affection from her father, and Adrian craved the release of a high. Adrian knew how to get what he wanted. Ava had no idea how to get what she wanted.

Dinner was always an event. Ava tried as hard as she could to make everybody pay as much attention to her as possible. Adrian always pushes the food around his plate, eating just enough nobody decides to ask questions.

Ava is loud and proud, wanting the entire table to hang off her words. Most of the time she was the sole attention holder of Henry and Madeline, Adrian didn't pay much attention to anything as his thoughts were consumed with other things, Crystal and Gabriel almost always were talking to Xavier and James instead of paying any attention to the people at the other end of the table.

Every night she remembered, Ava would run up to her uncles, screaming their names as they picked her up and tossed her around in the air. Once every few weeks Ava would even insist on sitting between James and Xavier, talking to them endlessly as Crystal threw looks to her twin that clearly said "Your problem."

After dinner, Madeline would make sure Ava got to bed on time, brushed her teeth, and didn't ask too many questions about her father not being there.

When Ava went to bed at 8:30, Adrian was almost never still at the house. Normally he would leave before dinner was even completely finished, heading out to chase his next high. If he was still at the house, he was in his room using his stash. Adrian locked the door to try to protect Ava, but his family still knew what he was doing.

When Adrian finally fell asleep sometime around two in the morning, he never woke up before noon. When the sun finally made it's rude awakening, Adrian would be out and searching once again for his next fix.


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