After the necessary stroll through the park, David led me straight to our room and guided me onto the large bed. He cupped my cheeks before asking,
"Are you able to talk with Dawn? I can handle it alone if you'd like."
I nodded eagerly. "I wanna do it together. I need to know what exactly happened."
"I'm worried about you."
I took his hands. "When are we not worried about each other?"
"This is different." His eyes saddened. "This is your mental health; something surgery can't repair."
"Well, thank God I know a wonderful psychologist."
David stood tall, stuffing his hands into his pockets. "You tell me never to treat you like a client, but only as a husband. And you're right. That's why, just like your job, treating a family member isn't recommended. I'm..." he sighed, averting his gaze from mine. Then with a shrug, he said, "emotionally invested in you."
I smiled softly, toying with my wedding ring. "Clearly."
His stormy eyes met mine once again and he looked so helplessly in love that my stomach fluttered. "By that, I mean I'd be a sobbing mess if I treated you as my client."
I bit my lip, considering his view. He wasn't wrong. I couldn't ask him to be my therapist and remain professional about it, then be my husband after a session.
David took a step closer. "If you'll let me, I want to find someone capable and competent enough to be your therapist. That way, you can have someone to speak to without the pressure of me being around to hear. You should feel an absolute sense of comfort and security. This is about you. As for me, I will support you as your family. What do you think?"
I fidgeted with my hands while pondering over it. Then I stood up, wringing my hands. "I'll think about it. I'm not ready to see anyone just yet. Somehow, keeping my feelings in is easier for now."
"Until they weigh you down. I'd advise you not to wait too long."
I simply nodded. Even though I admitted my depression, I didn't want to dwell on it. "Let's go speak to our daughter. I'm itching to get to the bottom of all this."
He didn't push, and we were on the same page as we headed to her room. I smiled immediately when I saw her playing with her large cooking play set, wearing a white chef's hat.
"What's my little baker making?" David gushed, swooping her up in his arms as her hat fell. She giggled excitedly as I picked up the white hat and placed it atop the fake stove.
"I made biscoitos!"
"Oh, cookies! My favorite! Come, let's sit over here for a second then after, I'll help you bake."
He carried her over to her canopy bed and sat her down before sitting beside her. I made an attempt to give her forehead a kiss but she whined and swiftly dodged it, crawling into her Dad's arms to avoid me. The sting of her denial was prominent, as she'd never done anything like that before.
"Dawn?" I called, knitting my eyebrows together in confusion. I exchanged surprised glances with David and he sighed.
"Baby, what's the matter?" Her face was set in a tight expression as she refused to answer. She gripped him firmly, burying her head closer to him.
"She's not interested in speaking to me," I said, feeling helpless as I failed to suppress my tears. I stood up and said, "I'll let you handle it." Then I promptly left her room.
But I was already out the door. I heard David murmur something before he caught up to me right before I made it to the master bedroom.
"Hey, hey, hey." He gently stopped me, holding both of my hands and tugging me close. My head was bowed in shame, so I didn't bother looking at him.
"I told you I let her down," I whispered sorrowfully. "You saw how she reacted to me."
"Please look at me."
I sniffed, sadly lifting my head but still unable to look him in the eyes. David leaned in to kiss my forehead. Against it, he promised, "I love you. I will fix this."
I shut my eyes, trying my best to be hopeful. It worked for a couple of seconds, but the moment of Dawn's rejection played itself in my mind over and over again. My body tensed up, then I ripped away from David's hold and darted into our room.
I was split between decisions. Casper's painstricken face as he tore away from me was soul-crushing, and as much as I wanted to go console him, I stood rooted in my spot.
He needed me. Our girl needed me. Who do I comfort first?
I ran my fingers through my hair, keeping my calm as I turned back toward Dawn's room. One way or another, I was getting some answers. Maybe it would set my beloved at ease.
"Hey baby girl. Tell me what's going on."
"Nothing," she mumbled, brushing the hair of her Barbie doll with her little fingers.
"It's not nothing." I raised her chin carefully. "Can we talk about the play?"
"You told us Ms. Kurry said some very hurtful things to you. Is that true, Dawn?"
She lifted her finger to her bottom lip, glancing away with a worried expression. I didn't tolerate lying, but this was a different circumstance. She was being bullied, and the last thing I wanted to do was pressure her. My daughter needed to know that Casper and I were safe places, that home was a safe place.
"I only want to help you," I reassured. "And your Daddy wants to do the same."
She looked at her Barbie, seeming to think for a moment. She rose from the bed to collect two more dolls before returning to me.
"These two Barbies," she set two down on her bed between us, "are mean to this one." I watched as she put down the last one, quickly noting that one was darker in skin color than the others. "Because she doesn't look like them."
I quietly placed a hand over my heart, maybe trying to stop it from cracking.
"What are the names of these two dolls?"
She pointed at each. "This one is Vanessa, that one is Rose."
I sighed, enveloping her in a warm hug to not only soothe her but myself. "Those girls are misguided." I realized she wouldn't know what that meant, which made it all the more painful. There was so much I needed to tell her, but how could I do it in a way she'd understand? "Dawn, nothing is wrong with you." I pulled back to look her in the eyes. "Please tell me you know that. Those girls' parents failed to teach them to do the right thing. It isn't on you. It's sad because you are all so young."
Slowly, she nodded. "It's like one of those bible stories you and daddy used to tell us before bed. Jesus asked God to forgive all those mean people, because they didn't know what they were doing. Maybe Vanessa and Rose don't know better."
I blinked back tears then laid a soft kiss on her forehead. "Maybe," I agreed. She was smarter than I gave her credit for. I couldn't wait to tell Casper that he didn't fail our daughter like he'd feared. She was strong, capable, and her heart was as big as his. That was his doing.
"I'm sorry I said it was Ms. Kurry," Dawn apologized. "I thought you were going to tell the principal, and I knew she wouldn't be mad at me for lying."
"I'm relieved it wasn't her, but Dawn... we're going to do something about this. Please don't worry. Just be honest with us from now on."
I was grateful how much her mood was lifted after our talk, and I couldn't resist playing chef with her for half an hour. When I returned to my room, I saw Casper huddled underneath a mountain of covers, staring at nothing in particular toward the wall.
I joined him on the bed, carefully rubbing his arm. "Did you talk to her?" he inquired with a quiet voice, slightly thick from crying.
"I did. It was... productive and she's in a much better mood. The girls' names are Vanessa and Rose."
I watched him mouth their names, probably trying to paint their faces in his head.
"I'll go to their school and deal with this," I vowed.
"And I'll come."
"Casper, no. You're not..." I wanted to finish with 'in the best state of mind', but the look in his eyes silenced me.
"I'm not what?" He propped himself up. "Don't try to stop me, David. What kind of a parent sits on their ass while their child is bullied?"
"Taking your mental health seriously doesn't make you any less of a wonderful parent."
He shook his head. "You're telling me to just do nothing?"
"Far from that. I'm asking you to give yourself a chance to get better. Let me handle the task of going to her school, and trust that I will update you so we can decide where to go from there."
He fell back onto the bed, clearly unhappy with my suggestion as he stared at the high ceiling. "She refused to even look at me. That single second of her rejection is etched in my memory forever now. I debated telling you about my depression. Now it feels like that's all you can see."
"Angel," I called tenderly, and I could visibly notice the way he softened at that name. There weren't words to describe why he was always pacified by it, without fail. All his defenses came crashing down. I took his hand, and he looked at me. "Do you remember, some time after my surgery, when I could barely speak, there was something you told me? When you are weak..."
"I will be your strength," he recalled, sitting up again. I smiled at him and he smiled back. There wasn't anything left to say, no more need for convincing. In those words, he completely understood.
We were a team. In sickness and in health.
Yo, hey. Lol sorry it's taken a while.
Y'all remember my favorite book, The Selection? Yah, that has kept me busy. I recently found out it's becoming a movie on Netflix! After so long!
If you're interested, find it by searching "novels77 the selection"
Or "novelfreereadonline the selection" on Google and it'll pop up. Completely free.
I don't ask for many favors, but if there is anything you all could do for me PLEASE read it. Please support the author and the upcoming movie. I swear you will not regret it. If you love my books, you'll love hers. I write just like her, you'll probably notice. My frickin username came from her book.
Anyway! Love you guys! 🙏🏽