XXVIII. One Size Fits All
Love is the answer to all of your problems.
What a big blatant lie.
Love is a term used to express an emotion we can’t seem to comprehend - and perhaps never will.
If I say, I don’t love Emerson.
That would be a lie.
If I say, I don’t love Jackson.
That would also be a lie.
Because I do.
I love both men.
How dare I?
How dare I love two men at once?
You have one heart: a single heart - a single person - a single love.
But, how is that possible?
For one type of love to fit everyone.
And that’s it.
There is no such thing as one size fits all.
So, those companies that claim their pants or shirts fit all - are liars.
Then again, what do you expect from corporates?
All they want is your money.
“No. No.” Dustin shook his head as the woman came closer with the headphones. He kicked his legs and thrashed his arms whenever they moved closer. Dustin isn’t exactly fond of strangers.
Right now, we’re at the hospital to develop a treatment for Dustin’s hearing. But first, the doctor needs to thoroughly exam him.
Jackson lowered himself with Crystal piggyback behind him. I told him to let her walk earlier, but he didn’t listen to me. Now, she whines whenever he puts her down because her legs hurt from walking.
I watch as Jackson reaches inside his pants and pulls out a picture. Has he been carrying that around this whole time? I tilted my head to see a picture of a toy airplane. Jackson didn’t say anything; instead, he tapped on the image.
“Plane! Plane!” Dustin spread his arms and slant from side to side.
I have no idea what’s going on.
Jackson tilted his head towards Dustin. The doctor took that as a signal to move closer. Dustin screamed: “No!”
Jackson lifted a finger in the air and tapped at the picture again.
The doctor and nurse were able to get closer and examine Dustin’s condition.
“Mommy, I want cocoa,” Crystal said.
“Alright.” I took out a few dollars. “Melody. Can you take Crystal to go get cocoa?”
“Sure.” Melody hops off the chair, grabs the money and Crystal’s hand. Together, they walked out of the room.
I poke my head outside, “No detours!”
“Okay,” they responded at the same time.
I rest my purse down on the counter, “What happened earlier?” I asked.
“The airplane picture.”
“Oh.” He tucked the picture back inside. “I told him I’d get him an airplane after this appointment.”
“It’s a toy airplane.”
Jackson didn’t respond; instead, when Dustin squirms, he took out the picture paper and pointed at it. He points at Dustin, then the picture, and then gives him a thumbs up.
It was weird.
After Dustin’s tests, we sat inside his office. Melody, Crystal, and Dustin played with the small toys they grabbed from the children’s play area outside.
“Going over the tests, your son’s condition isn’t bad. But, I wouldn’t be honest if I say it’s good. As of the moment, he can’t fully hear in his right ear.”
“But, he can still hear me. Right?”
“Yes. But, let’s say there’s a loud sound in the background, such as the tv or others’ screams. All those sounds will merge, and he can’t make sense of them.”
I nodded, “I see.” That would explain why he looks so confused whenever I talked to him during a family meeting. “Are there any medications he can take so his hearing may be back to normal?”
The doctor shook his head, “I’m sorry. As of this moment, there aren’t any medications.”
My hands grip firmly onto my purse. “Then, what can we do?”
I sat there and listened to the doctor’s recommendation on how to support Dustin. He assured me that Dustin’s life wouldn’t be any different from other children, but there’s a part of me that still feels uneasy.
After we went over the treatment plan, the five of us went home to get ready for the carnival. Well, I got ready while everyone went to the toy store. I folded the towel and put it inside the large bag.
“Hey,” Jackson’s voice appeared. He grabbed the water bottles and placed them in the empty slots.
“Oh, hey. You’re back. How was the toy store?”
Jackson scratched his hair, “Well-”
“Mommy!” The door burst open, “Look how cool this dollhouse is!” Melody and Crystal pushed in a giant box with a dollhouse in the front. Dustin waddled behind them with an airplane as big as him.
I looked at Jackson, who smiled sheepishly.
I’m about to have a heart attack.
“And unicorns!” Crystal disappeared from the kitchen and came back with a handful of stuffed unicorns.
“Look at this one, Piper!” Melody pulls in a unicorn as big as her.
Crystal dropped all the unicorns and leaped onto the giant one.
“And Jack got this for me!” Melody rolled in a bike.
I look at Jackson with widened eyes. I sent him to the toy store with three kids with a mission of purchasing a small airplane toy, and he came back with the whole shop.
“I can explain,” he said. “We were going to buy only the airplane, but the unicorns were on sale.”
“What type of sale?” I asked. I didn’t actually care if it was on sale or not. My anger level is still the same.
“Buy ten get one free?”
“And the bicycle?” I know my voice sounds like it’s on edge.
Melody and Crystal grabbed Dustin’s hands and back away.
“Seems kind of unfair to buy toys for only two out of three kiddos.”
My breath quickens, and my glares only sharpen. “Jackson. I can’t afford these.”
“I’m not asking you to pay me back.”
That sentence did not help me feel better. “No. I-”
“Think of this as an early Christmas gift,” he said.
“Jack!” Melody shouted. “We need help!”
“Coming!” Jackson smiled at me before he opened the door. On the other side, Melody and Crystal were trying to carry the large dollhouse upstairs.
I pressed my fingers against my forehead. The headaches only seem to get worse these days.
After they carried the dollhouse upstairs, we got ready to go to the carnival. I sneer at the children who correctly put on their seatbelts.
“What is it?” Crystal asked innocently.
I shook my head and closed the door before I got on the driver’s side.
“What did I do wrong?” Crystal asked Melody.
Melody shrugged, “I dunno.”
By the time we arrived at the carnival, it was packed. I couldn’t go with the rest of my family because our schedules were different. It’s for the best, sometimes going with a massive group isn’t ideal. Everyone wants to do different things, and in the end, we would split up.
We came together, but we won’t stay together.
By the time we arrived at the carnival, the sun was setting, and the lights turned on.
I rest Dustin inside the stroller, and he gave me wet kisses. “Yes. Yes. Love you too.”
We were prepared to set off with the backpack and purse rested in the back of the stroller.
“Melody and Crystal. Make sure to stay with us, okay?”
They nodded, “Okay.”
“If you get lost?”
“Ask an adult in a uniform for help,” Crystal replied.
“And if a stranger tried to take you?”
“Blow my whistle and scream: stranger!" Crystal took out her whistle.
I look at Melody, who shows off the same item around her neck. Once I nod in approval, they tuck it back inside their dresses.
Halfway towards the carnival, Crystal somehow manages to find her way above Jackson’s shoulders. I gave him a stern look, but he only smiles in return. With one hand, he held Crystal, and with the other, he had Melody.
The last thing I need is a lost child.
The closer we got, the louder the noises seemed to become. I grabbed Dustin’s headphones and placed them over his ears. The doctor said it’s better to minimize loud noises.
Once Dustin received his headphone, he smiled. I’m glad he didn’t try to remove it. With one hand on each side of his head, I kissed him.
When we got closer to the entrance, the massive structures could be seen. The last time we went to the carnival was two years ago...Emerson.
“Mommy! Let’s go!” Crystal shouted.
I rolled Dustin forward and further into the carnival. The first thing we saw was the concert full of amateur acts. Then, there were children with their sweets and snacks.
Jackson and the two girls went to purchase tickets for the rides. There is no way I will let them eat before the rides.
I stood on the sideline and watched as the two girls spun the teapot at a vicious speed, with Jackson hanging on the edge.
Once the ride was over, he held all his weight against the metal fence.
“You okay?” I asked.
He swallowed and then nodded, “Yup. Dandy.”
Crystal grabbed his hand and tugged him towards another ride. “Come on, Jackson!”
While we were in line, I said: “I can go with them.”
He shook his head, “I’m fine.”
Because of his response, I get to watch a grown man attempt to save what’s left of his soul. After five rides, I threw out my timeout sign and suggested the bumper car.
Crystal and Melody were tall enough to ride them without an adult.
When we found a bench, Jackson fell on the edge. “I thought I was going to die.”
I laughed, “I think a lot of people thought the same thing.” I watch as Crystal and Melody viciously bump each other then laugh. Next, they would bump strangers and laugh again.
“Thank you,” I said.
Jackson looked at me, “Hm?”
“I haven’t had the time to take Crystal out. I’m grateful.” I hand him a water bottle.
He took a drink, “Not a problem.” He twisted the cap close.
When I noticed the sweats on his neck, I grabbed the small towel and wiped it off. His body froze, and his hands seemingly forgot their mission. He turned his head towards me, and I moved the towel towards his face. “Don’t pretend to be strong. Tag team me.”
He smiled, “Noted.”
When we heard Crystal’s voice, Jackson immediately grabbed the towel from my hand and wiped off the rest of the sweat.
“Can we get ice cream?” Crystal grasps her hands together, “Please?”
After a light meal, I found myself staring at the two young girls with ice creams wobbling over the cones. It dripped down their small fingers, and they fought to clean it.
“Had fun?” I asked.
They smiled and nodded.
A bell was heard to our left, and we all turned our heads. “Winner! Winner!”
For me, all I can hear is: “Scam! Scam!”
Crystal and Melody’s eyes brighten at the appearance of a large stuffed animal.
“Want to go play?” Jackson asked.
Crystal and Melody looked at me for approval.
I groaned, “Alright. But, you have to finish your ice creams, wash your hands, and no more than twenty each.”
I watch as they chow down the dessert and rush towards the temporary public sink. They sang happy birthday loud and proud to make sure I heard them. Then, they ran towards the game booth.
I look at Jackson, “I blame you.” I licked the ice cream in my hands.
Jackson chuckled and went after the girls who had half their bodies into the booth.
When I felt a slight tug, I looked down to see Dustin with chocolate all over his face. He grinned widely, and the saliva slips out of his mouth. “Da-”
I looked towards the booth to see Jackson hand a squealing Melody a giant bear while Crystal screamed: “Me next! Me next! I want that giant monster with the big ole eye! Please, Jackson! Please! Please! I’ll love you forever!”
I clean the ice cream mess from Dustin and then myself before I stroll towards the booth.
I watch as the man behind the booth grabs the giant monster and hands it to Jackson. He went down on a single knee with a smile and presented it to Crystal, who squealed loudly. Immediately, she thrashed her body against Jackson.
Caught by surprise, the smile wiped off his face.
“I love it! I love it! Thank you!”
The wheels below the stroller halted with the scene I witnessed in front of me. Steadily, the smile reappeared, and Jackson wrapped his arms around Crystal’s body.
My grip tightens on the bar, and the longer I witness the scene in front of me, the harder it gets to breathe.
Repeatedly...over and over...she kissed his cheek, and he only laughed in return.
My eyes cast down towards Dustin, who extended his arms. “Da-”
His legs went into the air, and he attempted to fight his way out of the stroller. “Da-”
His small hands opened and closed towards the duo in front of us. “Daddy...Daddy.”