Allie used to be a hyperactive child, and her parents didn’t know how to deal with it. Dad would go to his office, and leave his wife to deal with the “colicky” child. Her mother, Nora, would sit her down on the couch, and tell her to take a moment and breathe. And like the good daughter she was, Allie would listen for as long as she could.
And then she’d go back to whatever she was doing in the first place.
You see, Allie didn’t do this because she had Attention Deficit Disorder. No, she acted out because she hated not being seen or heard by dear old Dad.
Dad was older when she was born. He was a doctor, and you know how they can be; they plan to establish a career first, and then a family afterwards. Dad was also old-fashioned, so he believed that it was Nora’s job to take care of the force that was Allie.
“Allison,” he’s said at dinner way too many times, in his usual stern voice, “can’t you just sit still?”
“Dad,” she’d reply in the same tone, “You know I can’t.”
And Dad would grimace for the fourth time this week, and continue eating silently.
Allie always listened to her mother, but when it came to Dad, she was a rebel—even at just six years old. Dad didn’t understand why she was the way she was, but I did. I can’t say that I used to do the same thing, but I know where it’s coming from.
Dad and Nora had Allie take all these kinds of psychological tests. He didn’t understand how she acted in such a way without remorse, so his wound up brain immediately thought that she must have had something wrong with her.
All tests came back negative.
Dad wanted Allie to go to a psychiatrist. After one session, the doctor said that nothing was wrong with her, and that maybe he should talk to his daughter. I guess you can assume that he never bothered. And it wasn’t because he was a bad person; he’s actually far from it.
Dad is a lifesaving machine. He has spent over the last twenty years cooped up in St. Catherine’s Hospital doing his thing, and has saved thousands of lives. He’s one of the best heart surgeons in the country, and he’s a total legend. People see him as a hero. And he has even helped to support me and my mom after he remarried.
I’m what you would call The Mistake. Like I said before, Dad wanted to have his career set before starting a family. But he didn’t expect Mom to get pregnant fresh out of undergrad.
He wasn’t ready to be a father back then. He wasn’t even sure if he wanted to be a husband back then, but he still married my mom. His heart had always been in the right place, but even I could tell as a child that he wasn’t happy. He spent most of his time working at the hospital, but when he was home, he was exhausted; he was like a ghost floating around the house.
Mom was the one who asked for the divorce. She knew they only married because of Young Love and a child on the way. And she wasn’t okay with living like that anymore.
Dad was okay with it. Nothing ever surprised Dr. Rhodes until Nora stepped onto the scene. Young, beautiful Nora.
Nora was a new nurse at St. Catherine’s. She was right out of grad school, wickedly fierce, and knew as much as the doctors…but couldn’t afford the schooling to further her degree. Most of the male staff at the hospital had their sights set on her. But, of course, it was Dad who won her over. I guess you could say he had her heart.
After they became an item, something changed in him. He seemed happier whenever I saw or heard from him. Whatever this Nora character did to make him that way, I didn’t know. But Mom said that this was the best thing for him, and that she was happy for him, so I should be, too.
It only took a couple years before Dad married Nora. She was ready to have a personal life, start a family. I thought Dad was, too, because when Allie was born, he was the happiest I’d ever seen him.
But it didn’t last very long.
After his four weeks’ worth of paternity leave, Dad was back into the swing of things, and putting in his 80 hours. He told Nora not to worry about work anymore, that he can afford to take care of everything, so her full time job title became Mrs. Rhodes: Allie’s Mom. And although she felt like she was wasting her talent, she didn’t mind being at home with the baby. Despite the crying, she even enjoyed it.
I watched the blonde six-year-old from across the table, who was shoving a piece of broccoli into her mouth. She looked at both of her parents, then shifted her eyes towards mine, and smiled. Something about the way her blue eyes shined made me think that she knew more than she led our father to think. All she wanted was just some love, some attention, and she knew the only way to get any from him was to push the buttons she knew to use.
“You’re getting fatter,” Allie blurts. I couldn’t help but giggle at her blunt remark.
“Alison, that’s not the way you talk to your sister,” Dad reprimanded. “Kelsey looks the same she always has.”
“No, she’s fatter! Look at her tummy!” She popped another piece of broccoli in her mouth, and did a little dance in her seat. Her curls bounced around her smug face. I wasn’t sure if I should be more annoyed or amused.
Nora’s eyes shifted towards my stomach for the slightest second, and then back at her daughter. “Honey, don’t say that about your sister.”
They didn’t know why I was here for dinner tonight, and this kid was about to blow up my spot. As much as I love her, part of me wanted her to keep her mouth shut, while another wanted her to ask. It’s rude to ask, people say, but I didn’t care. I would rather someone else say it than me.
I had been dreading this visit for the last two weeks; I knew how Dad felt about this subject. I wasn’t really sure how Nora or Allie would react, but their reactions didn’t matter to me as much as Dad’s did.
I have to remember that I’m a grown woman. Hold on, I can do this. Take deep breaths.
Kels, you got this. You have a job that you love. You have good friends, and a great husband. He’s your biggest supporter. You have a place of your own. You are ready for this. You have the most amazing mom; she set the bar pretty high. You’ve watched and helped Nora countless times. You can do this. Just open your mouth.
“I actually have something to tell you guys.”
Prompt: Scribble down the first ten words that come to mind. Pick three of them. There’s your post title. Now write a story!