"It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons." - Johann Schiller
Destry arrived home to find Lucy cradling Nadia in her tiny bed.
"There's my girls!" He announced joyfully.
Lucy looked up at him, and he as struck at the flow of tears drying on her cheeks, and the look of absolute devastation. He factored in Nadia's scratched up cheek and panic rose in his chest.
He was on the bed in seconds. Nadia looked up at him with a sleepy smile.
"Hi Daddy," She chirped.
"What happened?" Destry questioned. He ran a finger along his daughter's jaw and pressed a kiss to the top of her downy soft hair.
Lucy lay Nadia down and tucked the covers around her.
"Mommy will be right back, Sweety," She whispered gently, "I just have to go talk with Daddy for a minute."
Destry pulled his arm around Lucy when they stepped out into the hall.
"Alright, what's going on here?" He asked, "Everything's crazy."
"I got a phone call today," Lucy began, "From my Mom. She says that Dad's in the hospital," Lucy heaved a heavy sigh and tried to keep the tears already wavering in her voice, from reaching her eyes.
"Oh no," Destry breathed. He pulled his wife into a close hug and rested his chin on top her head, "It'll be okay, Lu."
"No, it won't. It's an inoperable tumor. He's not going to be okay, and neither am I. Des, I yelled at Nadia. I was unreasonably angry with her."
"That happens sometimes, Lulu. Don't hurt yourself about it. I doubt you physically beat her, so it's okay."
"No it's not okay! Dessie, I may as well have physically beat her!"
"No, Lu, that's not you-"
"Destry! could you shut up for a millisecond? Please?"
Destry didn't verbalize his response. He simply nodded his head, still atop hers; and let her continue.
"I yelled at her for nothing. All she wanted was a cookie, and I couldn't even stop for a second to help her, so she did it herself. She fell Des. She could have been seriously injured. We're so lucky."
"Yes we are," Destry agreed, "But don't stress yourself out too much. It's not good for the baby. Kids are made to be resilient, because things like that happen to them all the time. Remember all the times we would fall off counters and fences and things like that? Remember when Junior was just a baby, and I got up to answer the phone? In that split second, she rolled herself off the couch. I thought for sure she'd die, but she's still here with us, and she's completely fine." Destry kissed Lucy's forehead and wiped the trail of tears from her eyes and cheeks, "Come sit down Sweety; tell me about your Dad."
He steered Lucy to the couch and helped her sit down. He cradled her carefully in his arms as she let out all her worries and fears.
Six years ago, Lucy had been so certain of her future. It included a career and a husband by her side, with Destry and his wife living next door to them, though those details had always been rather vague and fuzzy in her mind. It had included her first baby around the age of twenty-two, with a loving grandmother and grandfather joyfully blessing it with treats, gifts, and virtuous wisdom at every turn. It had involved her father, a major part of her life, to be always there whenever she needed him; bestowing love, and never looking down. Never reacting with anything but praise, in fact. Hannah had never really factored in to Lucy's dream of the future. But then, Lucy always expected Hannah would be off; leading her own great life, running around on grand, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants style adventures in far off countries and glamorous cities.
Lucy wondered if she had held Hannah back, with an obligation to stick around and be supportive, as the only member of Lucy's family who truly cared or understood. True, her little sister seemed completely happy with her life; studying the arts in college and living the high life of boys and best friends. But if Lucy had held her back in any way; tied her down to the ground, she could never forgive herself. It had been obvious ever since they were tiny children that Hannah was a bird, destined to fly and be great, while Lucy was a dog; faithful and destined to roam the familiar. Being a dog had been fine for Lucy, but it wasn't for Hannah.
And as for her father, Lucy had yearned every day since she'd left, for what she had left behind in their relationship. She had gone through life, always knowing what to do and what to say to keep him happy. It was the reason she'd always been Daddy's Little Girl. She had found freedom in the cutting of those ties, but she'd also lost the part of her that had always been confident she could mean something to the world. True, she had Destry to tell her everything she wanted and needed to hear, and Destry never lied, and rarely was he wrong; especially about her, but he was blinded by his love and infatuation with her. He thought she could do anything, simply because he loved her. Her father had been impartial. She had loved her father dearly, and she had wanted to connect with him on numerous accounts, but it was never the right time. He was too angry. He held a grudge for too long. And now he was dying. Lucy would never get to speak to him before he died, and that's what hurt the most. She wanted to apologize. She wanted him to apologize. She wanted to be free from his scorn and betrayal. She wanted to be somebody again in his eyes. She wanted it all, and it was being fiercely yanked away from her.
She sobbed this all out on Destry shoulder, clutching the bottom hem of his shirt as a lifeline, and not even wondering anymore how he could just sit there and let her tears and snot drip all over his favorite clothes. He felt her pain with her. She sobbed until she fell asleep, when her eyes closed and the disturbing dreams she could never remember took over.
Destry sat, staring off in to the slowly-coming darkness, thinking about life and all its emotional twists and turns, when the phone rang nearby. His body jerked in surprise at the noise, and he quickly reached out to answer it, before Lucy woke up.
"Hello?" He questioned thickly, his voice not been used for a few hours.
"Hey, Dessie," Hannah's voice rang through the cords, cheerful and upbeat. Didn't she know about her father, or was she pretending like nothing was wrong, in case he hadn't heard the news?
"Hi Hannah," Destry chose to keep his voice upbeat as well, as if he knew nothing. he had no inclination to re-hash the thing at the moment. Pius, if Hannah didn't know yet, he didn't want to be the one to tell her, "What's up?"
"Are you guy's still having trouble with naming The Fetus?"
"I wish you'd stop calling it The Fetus."
"Well, that's what it is, until it has a name. So are you or aren't you?"
"We are. Why? You have something good?"
"Sure do, buddy-roo!"
"How much caffeine have you had today, Han?"
"A lot. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do Dessie. Late nights socializing, and long term papers to finish don't mix!"
"What's the name, Hannah?" Destry hid his chuckle. The younger O'Neil sister was insatiable. He was glad he had Lucy.
"Please pick my idea."
"Well, you have to tell me first. I'll tell Lu when she wakes up, then we'll decide."
"Oh, she's asleep?"
"Yes, Hannah. What's the name?" Destry's patience was wearing thin. He was usually better at putting up with Hannah than Lucy was, but today all of his wife's angst and pain had worn off on him, and he had no tolerance for the younger girl's bubbliness.
"Okay," Hannah announced dramatically, "You should name him Noah."
"Yeah. It's a good, strong biblical name. I think Lucy will really like it."
"Yeah. I like it. I think she will too. Thanks Hannah. We'll consider it."
"Make sure you tell her!"
"Okay, call me back after you've discussed!"
"Okay Hannah, I'll talk to you later."