After what they named as the mourning period, would be counseling, especially for the children - for Crystal - to reduce the effect of this most unfortunate experience.
“Death is tough and traumatic on the young. They are often overlooked, thus storing up issues that could be resolved by therapy. And once it’s stored, an unexpected situation, most often negative, may occur.”
I flickered my fingernails back and forth in the waiting room. Dustin’s laughter caused me to lift my head.
“Do you like cheeks massage?” Jackson massages Dustin’s plump cheeks.
Dustin smiled widely while saliva spits out his mouth.
“Oh, you really like it.” Jackson laughed and continued to give Dustin a cheeks massage.
Dustin flapped his arms and shrilled. His body leaned forward, and he leaped onto Jackson’s body. He screamed in another round of excitement and hung onto Jackson’s neck. “Like! Like!”
Jackson smiled wildly, and when his eyes flickered upward, it met mine. I couldn’t help but smile in return.
The door opened, and Crystal skipped out with a lollipop stuck to one side of her cheek. She swayed her body on my lap, and I pet her head, “How’s today?”
She shrugged, “Meh. Same.”
“Mrs.Lun?” I look at the assistant. “Dr.Gomez is ready to see you.”
I pat Crystal’s head, and she stood upward. “Ooooh! Is that for me, Jackson?” She rushed towards him and wiggled out her fingers.
Jackson gave her the bag.
Crystal stuffed her head into the bag and squealed.
Jackson looked at me, and the smile fell flat. Jackson brought Crystal a gift despite my protest. Crystal embraced the tiny unicorn music box, “I love it, Jackson.” She hugged him.
I grabbed my purse, “Oh, yes. Sorry.” I turned towards everyone. “I’ll be right back.”
“We’ll be here,” Jackson said.
“Jackson. How do I turn it on?” Crystal asked.
“Here.” He turned the box around and twisted the small knob. Soon, a low sweet melody drifts around the room as the unicorn gallops in circles.
The door behind me closed, and the melody dissipated with each step I took. Soon, I found myself inside the office with Dr.Gomez. I placed my purse on top of my lap and smiled softly, “How is she?”
Dr.Gomez exhaled before he smiled softly. Then, the explanation began. Long story short, she still refuses to talk about Emerson. The more I hear about the helpless situation, the worse I felt. Dr.Gomez reassured me that it would get better with time.
I smiled, “Thank you, doctor.” I grabbed my purse and stood up.
“Mrs.Lun,” he called for me. “How are you?”
I bit my lower lip and turned around with a smile, “I’m fine. Thank you for asking.”
Dr.Gomez walked me out of his office, “Mrs.Lun. If you ever need anything, please reach out.”
I nodded once, “Thank you.”
Out of the narrowed hallway and into the waiting room, I could see a trio in the corner playroom.
“No. No. No,” Crystal said. “Jackson brought this for me.” She hid the music box behind her.
Dustin reached for it but failed; then he cried: “Mine. Mine.”
Crystal turned the other cheek.
Jackson grabbed Dustin and rocked him, “Hey there, little dude. Calm down. That’s your sister. We can drop by the store later, and I’ll grab you something else, okay.?”
Three steps and I was in front of them. I rested my fists against my waist, ”Jackson.”
He looked up and gave me a meek smile before he hands Dustin over. I look at him dead in the eye, “That’s your sister. Stop it.” The tears rolled down Dustin’s cheek, but he stopped crying. He wrapped his arms around my neck and nuzzled closed to it.
After therapy, it was time to scout Crystal new school.
“Mommy. I don’t want to visit any more people,” Crystal whined.
“When we find you a school, then we will stop,” I responded.
Crystal grunted while her body slid down.
After three interviews, one of the private schools showed interest in Crystal and overlooked her troublesome past.
The principal shook my hands, “Here at Blueming, we believe in a new chapter.”
I smiled, “Thank you! Us too!”
She looked down, “I look forward to witnessing your performance.”
With the lollipop stuck in her mouth, Crystal nodded vigorously at the woman. Once we were in the parking lot, she turned towards me, “Why does she talk like that?”
“Be quiet. She is still behind us. Smile.”
Crystal turned around with me, and we smiled at the lady. She smiled in return before she went back inside.
“There is something fishy about this place,” Crystal said. “They’re too happy. Happy people are fishy people.”
I gave her a side-eye glance, “Who taught you that?”
“Life.” She halted her steps and spread her arms, then bent her legs. The wind rushed against her hair, “Life taught me that.”
I chuckled and messed up her hair, “Come on my weird little one.”
When we got to the car, Jackson came out, “How is the interview?”
Crystal twirled towards him, “I did amazing!” She sang and spread her arms.
He lifted her and weighed her against his waist, “Did you now?”
Crystal nodded, “We should celebrate...with chocolate!” She continued to sing.
Jackson laughs, “Well-” our eyes met, “maybe another day.”
Crystal growled quietly.
I circled towards the back and poked my head inside the car, “Hey there, baby. Were you good for Jackson?” Jackson helped me watch Dustin inside the car while I was interviewing with Crystal.
Dustin flew his brand new car. He pressed a button, and the vehicle talked.
I look at Jackson.
He shrugged, “Little dude was getting bored.”
My eyes leap towards the toys on the car floor.
Another round of drive, and we were home. Once I reached the living room, I flopped onto the couch while Dustin and Crystal were upstairs to play.
A few minutes of rest should be sufficient.
That’s what I thought.
When I woke up, there was a blanket around my body. It was no longer bright outside, and there was a light clattering of utensils inside the dining room. I wrapped the small blanket around my shoulders and moved towards it. When I opened the door, three people came into view.
It was a warm sight - a picture that shouldn’t have happened but did.
“Finally! You’re awake! Eat!” Crystal shoved the steak inside her mouth.
I settled down on the chair, “Where did all this food come from?”
Crystal pointed a fork at Jackson.
“Just thought you might need the night off from cooking,” he said.
I grabbed the knife and fork to cut the steak, “Wow. This is really-”
“Yummy!” Crystal shouted and shoved another piece into her mouth.
I chuckled, “Exactly.” I sliced the fine steak, “Where did you buy this?” This isn’t precisely everyday meat you can find at the store. It’s much too soft. I put a piece in my mouth, and my eyes widened, “Where did you find this?”
Jackson laughs in a low manner, “Just around.”
“A nice man bought it for us earlier,” Crystal snitched on him. She grinned, and the sauce on her face spreads, “Must be nice being rich. I want to be rich.”
She ate another piece.
Quickly, she swallowed it, “But mommy says I can’t be rich.”
“Why?” Jackson asks.
“Because we’re poor. The government robs us of our money, and I ate the rest.”
Jackson looks at me, “What are you teaching her?”
“How the government is keeping us down.” I look at Crystal dead in the eyes, “Right?”
Crystal growls, “Darn government!” She tried to snap her fingers.
“Oh? How exactly is the government keeping you both down?” Jackson decided to join the joke. I’m not sure if Crystal is joking or not, but she seems to be having fun, so I’ll go with it.
“They tax us!” Me. “If they didn’t tax us, then I’ll have more toys in my room! I’m sad, and when I’m sad, I am being kept dooooown.” Crystal nods vigorously.
“And what do you suppose the government used all your money for?”
She shrugged, “I don’t know. Cut open aliens?” I knew I shouldn’t have allowed her to watch that alien movie.
Jackson burst out laughing, “Alright. Enough conspiracy theories.”
We looked at him and shook our heads.
“Mommy, he just doesn’t get it,” Crystal said.
I nod, “Rich people, you know? They all work for the government.”
Crystal points a steak knife at Jackson, “Enemy.”
I copied her action, “Enemy.”
Dustin points his sauce-filled hand at Jackson, “Enemy! Enemy!”
Dinner passed by in a blink of an eye, and soon I found myself inside of the doctor’s room. Not for Crystal or Dustin but me. I haven’t been feeling well lately.
“Mrs.Lun had something eventful happened in your life recently?” The doctor asked.
“A few things,” I responded. I don’t exactly feel comfortable telling my doctor my life story.
“It’s stress.” He clicked his pen and placed it in his front pocket. “Headaches and low blood pressure can occur during stressful periods. I’ve prescribed you some medications to aid, but overall, I suggest some home remedies such as taking quiet walks.”
I nodded, “Thank you.”
After the doctor, I went home. I shoved the medications to the bottom of the purse at the front door before I went inside.
Everyone was in the living room playing pirates.
Crystal bent a finger in the air and closed a single eye, “Arrrrg. This is my booty.” She shakes her butt.
Jackson laughed, “For the last time, Crystal, booty means treasure.” He shook her by the shoulders.
She smiled, “Then, why is it called a booty?!”
Dustin turned around and shook his butt. “Booty. Booty.”
When Jackson noticed me, he stopped laughing, “Hey you. How was the appointment?”
I tugged off my coat, “Fine. How’s everything?” I made my way towards Dustin, who played with his feet.
“I’m a pirate, mommy! Arg!” Crystal shows me her pirate face.
I chuckled, “That’s nice.” I spread my arm, and she limped towards me. “What’s wrong with your leg?”
“Oh. Jackson cut it off earlier.”
I looked at Jackson, “You cut off my child’s leg?”
He shrugged, “She was open.”
Crystal hung on my shoulders, “Mommy,” she said sweetly.
“After Dustin’s doctor’s appointment later, can we get ice cream?”
“The appointment is for Dustin. Why are you the one getting rewarded?”
“No. It’s not for me. Dustin wants ice cream.” She looks at Dustin, “Ice cream?”
Dustin smiled, “Ice cream! Ice cream!”
I squeezed Crystal’s cheek, “How dare you manipulate your younger brother.”
My eyes narrow, and I lean towards Dustin, “Do you really want ice cream? Or...do you want yogurt?!”
“Mommy!” Crystal folded her arms and stomped her foot.
“Oh? I thought your leg was chopped off!” I teased her.
She pouted and bent the leg, “It is.” Her eyes went towards Jackson, “You cut off my leg.” She hopped towards him, “Ow. Ow.” She fell on top of him. ”Ow."
Jackson looked at me.
I glared at him.
Don’t you dare fall for that act.
That was the message of my glare.
“They say when you get hurt.” She held him firmly, “Ice cream makes it all better.” She looked up and grinned, “Do you think that’s true?”
Jackson looked at me again.
My glare only worsened.
“Maybe-” Jackson extended the word.
I cleared my throat.
“Mommy. Don’t be rude. Let Jackson finish talking.” I cannot believe she told me not to be rude. I had half a mind to take her upstairs and spank the sass out of her.
“Maybe, we can get yogurt and then ice cream?” He chuckled, “Just a suggestion. My thoughts don’t matter,” he quickly added.
“Yes! Yes, it does! I care what you think, Jackson!” She nuzzled him by the arm, “I care alot.”
I cannot believe him. “Enemy,” I hissed under my breath before I left the room.
During the car ride to the clinic, everyone was in their own little world. I was working on my laptop to make sure all the documents are complete. Jackson was driving, Dustin was eating his own fingers, and Crystal sang: “I’m getting ice cream. I’m getting ice cream.”
I glared at Jackson.
He gripped onto the wheel and leaned his body forward. “It’s so hard to see the road today. Must be the sun.”
I exhaled sharply and continued to work on my laptop. Soon enough, we arrived at the clinic. Out of the car, into the waiting room, check-in, and finally, we were called.
“Present.” I raised Dustin’s arm.
“The doctor is ready for you.”
I turned towards Crystal, “Be good, not manipulative.”
Crystal stuck out her tongue.
When I raised a brow, she hid behind Jackson.
“You’re a grown man,” I told him, “Stand your ground.”
Once I gave them a piece of my mind, I made my way into the back of the clinic. Out of the bright clinic room and into the dimmed check-up room. The room is the same as always, with sanitized items on the counter and fun medically related-looking posture on the walls.
When the doctor came in and greeted me, I expected the check-up to be the same as always. But, when a different doctor - not Dustin’s regular - arrived, my stomach did a backflip. I shouldn’t feel anxious, but somehow I do.
It’s odd - you don’t know you’ve fallen into a particular routine until something arrives and throws it off.
Such as Dustin’s doctor.
I was used to the same doctor he had ever since birth, but now that person has changed.
It’s someone different.
She reassured me that everything is alright and how she is fully qualified.
So what if she is licensed and experienced?
I want someone familiar.
Those words desperately wanted to escape, but they didn’t, and in the end, I could only smile and accept the change.