We broke a foot off the bed, needless we lay slanted cuddling. “I really want a cigarette.” I say. Cynthia looks at me then rolls and keeps rolling until she’s off the bed. I laugh as she gets up to her feet. “That’s not helping your chances for an encore.” She says sitting up. She walks over to her nightstand before she opens it. “Promise not to be mad.” I do an imitation of whatever the boy scout salute is “Scouts honor.” I say. She opens the drawer to the nightstand and pulls out a pack of Lucky’s and a lighter. “I can’t be mad at all, I fucking love you!” She goes around closing the door to our room and opening every window. “I only do it when I’m stressed.” She says as she makes the uphill climb back into bed. “Well, are you stressed now?” I ask holding out my fingers to take the cigarette. “No, it just sounded good.” She puffs and hands it to me. I try to blow a smoke ring, and it comes out right. We both watch as it flutters to the ceiling then explodes. “I miss this.” I say. Cynthia takes the cigarette from me. “I do too.” The sheets rustle as her hand moves under them. “How about that encore?” She asks as I take the cigarette from her and put it out into a glass of water beside the bed. My head soon thumps against the floor and I swear I could hear ringing. I listen for a second longer, trying to give the outside world the concentration it deserved. It was ringing. “Is that the phone?” Cynthia asks stopping. We both listen and it rings again. We topple over each other trying to get to the door. Our bare feet smack against the wood as we make it to the phone. “Hello?” I say to the stranger at the other end. I can barely hear Olive over the crying. “She won’t stop… You come by… asking for you.” The crying continues. “I’ll be right there.” I say hanging up the phone. “What’s wrong?” Cynthia asks terrified. I kiss her on the head and slowly say. “Her first nightmare.” I get dressed and head to the Weatherby’s.
I drive up and Jasper is outside smoking on his pipe. He gives me a nod hello and continues to smoke. I walk inside and make my way to the guest bedroom where Olive and Noah are. Olive sees me, with eyes filled with tears and hands Noah to me. I cradle her as she cries. I try to reassure her that I was there, that she was safe, but she keeps crying. There’s nothing that can make you feel more useless than a crying child. I try to calm her but her tears do not let up. She cries as I put her in the car. Olive apologizes profusely about it, but I reassure her it’s not her fault. With the steering wheel in one hand on Noah in the other, I drive home. As Cynthia sits brushing her hand through Noah’s hair I call Dr. Flynn, she has us break an Ibuprofen in half and give it to her. It wasn’t her first nightmare, but her first headache. She falls asleep in her mother’s lap, as I watch her hopeless. Cynthia carries her into bed, we give her as many kisses on the head as we could before we closed the door.
Cynthia wakes up before me. I roll down the bed and onto the floor. I take a look at the foot and it appears to be an easy fix, for later that is. I change into my work clothes and head downstairs. Noah and Cynthia are making pancakes together. “Morning!” They both say as I walk into the kitchen. “What are my two favorite ladies making today?” I say as I sit down at the kitchen table. “Banana pancakes!” Noah shouts excited. “Oh, sounds exotic.” I chime. Cynthia gives me her worried eyes as she puts the last pancake on the plate. “Noah and I are going to see Dr. Elizabeth today.” She says as I pour syrup on my pancakes. “Well give Olive a call if there’s anything.” I say. Cynthia sits down and begins eating as well. I finish as quickly as I could as I was getting pretty thin on time. I grab my lunch box off the counter and start sprinting for the door, with my hand on the knob I stop. I walk back and give Noah and Cynthia a kiss goodbye.
Olive comes out and finds me herself, I wipe off my hands and follow her inside. On the other end of the phone, I can hear Cynthia fighting back tears. “Hello, is everything alright? Where are you?” I ask terrified. “Elizabeth says, Elizabeth says she might have a tumor in her head.” My hand shakes, enough to have the handset slips from my grasp. No, not my little girl. No, she’s wrong. I think trying my best not to curl into a ball. Olive comes from nowhere and picks up the phone. “Where are you dear, alright, we’ll be right there.” She hangs up the phone and helps me to the sofa. “Now you listen to me, I’m not sure what’s going on, but I need you to be strong okay. Those two little ladies need you to be strong, can you do that for me?” I nod my head and forcibly wipe away everything from my face. “Now come on, I’ll drive you.” Olive sits up and I follow her out to the car.
We arrive at the doctor’s office. My knees and heart shake as I get out of the car. Noah must have caught sight of me through the wind as she comes running out. “Daddy!” She shouts as she runs to me as fast as her legs could carry her. I sweep her up and twist her around. “Hey, darling, how you feeling?” I kiss her a couple of times on the head. “I’m okay, Mommy is sad.” She says pointing back to the office. “Well, let’s go see Mommy then.” I set her down, though I regret letting her go. She runs back inside. I follow her with Olive right behind me. Cynthia stops talking with Dr. Flynn and throws herself at me. “I’m afraid.” She whispers into my ear. I hug her the best I could and with all the uncertainty aside I whisper back. “It will be okay.” She squeezes me a little tighter. Elizabeth clears her throat and we part arms slightly. “Let’s go into my office.” We sit down in the padded green chairs. Her diplomas are hung against the wall, I never knew how qualified she was before then, which makes her words sharper. “I believe there’s an abnormality in Noah’s brain. I can’t say for certain, and I apologize, I just do not have the right equipment.” She opens a folder reads over it and closes it. “But this isn’t something I want to take lightly, I called a colleague down in Los Angeles who will be ready to see her as quickly as possible.” I dig my fingers into the arms of the chair, I forget formalities. “Let’s be straight Elizabeth, is it serious?” I ask. Her face is grim but eyes watered. “It is Karl, I suggest you two go once you get the first chance to. If you need to you can borrow my car.” Cynthia unable to control herself bursts out. “It’s not fair, it’s not!” She’s standing before Elizabeth and I have time to react. “This isn’t going to happen to us, this isn’t.” She stomps her foot down on the ground. Elizabeth is on her feet before I am. “If there’s anything I am able to do I will do it, I will do all that I can.” She shelters Cynthia in her arms. I sit there unsure what I am to do until Elizabeth waves me over. I join the hug, and start to cry, we all cry in a sorry circle of useless tears.