Written by Shataivian
March 24th was a particularly sunny day in Vegas. It sat at a comfortable 72 degrees for most of the day, but that didn’t seem to help the yellow-necked mouse perk up from her sour mood. Lisa unlocked the door to her apartment and shuffled in. She tossed the sweatshirt she had draped over her arm onto the couch. There wasn’t much use for it that day. She pulled off her sweaty T-shirt and it too went flying onto the couch. Her sneakers scuffed one another as she used her foot to free herself from them. Finally, her sweatpants joined the rest of her clothing on the couch. Fanning the sweat from under her arms she made her way towards the sink in the kitchen to try and cool herself off. A few cold splashes to the face topped off with a tall glass of ice water did the trick. She certainly overdid it at the gym.
With water dripping from the fur on her chin, she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. She was wearing nothing but a sports bra and underwear and her hair was matted to her scalp. She chuckled at the sight of herself. “Why not take a shower?” “Don’t feel like it.” She plopped herself onto the couch and stared at the blank TV screen. “I wonder what’s on.” “I really don’t care.” She sprawled herself across the couch and stared up at the ceiling. The outside light from the sliding doors to the balcony flickered and danced about the walls and ceiling as the cars down below came and went. She could faintly hear them, too. In fact, it was the only sound that could be heard in her apartment at that moment.
Her father had been staying with her since he flew out to Vegas in February, but during the day he liked to go out and about to explore the area. Since Lisa couldn’t hear him rustling around from anywhere in the apartment, she knew she was alone and therefore free to let herself look as ragged as she did.
“Why did you do that stupid press conference?” “Dammit, you’re such an idiot.” “How is any of this supposed to fix things?” Lisa turned over on the couch. She turned back over. She got up and took her clothes over to the hamper in one of the bathrooms. She sat back down on the couch and dropped her head back to stare up at the ceiling.
“I should eat something.” “Why bother?”
Lisa then shouted as loud as she could.
“I need some air,” she said out loud to herself. She shot up out of her seat and made her way over to the sliding doors. As soon as she slid the doors open, fresh air came rushing in. Spring had truly begun. She took slow steps out onto the balcony and leaned against the railing. She took a deep breath and sighed a long sigh.
“What am I doing here,” Lisa asked herself softly. “Why can’t I just get over this and move on?” With both hands on the railing, Lisa bent over so that her head, arms, and back were level with it. She stayed in this pose for a few moments, using this time to stretch her arms and back, all while taking notice of the scenery below. She could see the people coming and going, the cars speeding by, and yet all of it was quiet. And despite all the people she saw, it still felt as though she was the only one on the planet.
She slowly stood up straight, keeping her hands on the railing. She then lifted her right leg onto the railing
and bent her left leg to stretch.
She carefully bounced to help stretch a bit further, then switched to the other leg. Once she was done with her left leg, she lifted her right leg again,
this time placing the sole of her foot onto the railing. She held there for a moment.
She held for a little bit longer.
She shifter her weight forward.
And with a quick push from her left foot her weight was completely on the railing.
She lingered there for a second, like the way one would linger as they try to push themselves into a handstand but don’t quite make it.
Her left foot fell back to the ground and she began to slowly slide her right foot off the railing. Before it completely left though she was yanked to the ground. She gasped as she landed on top of her father who was holding her wrist.
“Dad?! Dad!” Lisa shouted in shock. “Dad, no! I was just stretching! I wasn’t! I promise!” Her voice quivered with fear. Her father said nothing to her. He just pulled her close and hugged her as tight as he could. This shut Lisa up. He was hugging her? He was hugging her. He was actually hugging her. Wasn’t he mad at her? Wasn’t he going to yell? Was he going to disown her again?
“It’s gonna be okay, baby girl. I’ve gotchya.” Lisa couldn’t control the tears forming in her eyes as she nestled her nose into his shoulder. “I’ve gotchya, baby girl. It’s okay.”
David held her long enough for her to grab her composure and sit up on her own. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I’m so sorry.”
“It’s okay.” David wiped the tears from her eye with his thumb. “You’ve been isolating again.” Lisa nodded. “You know that’s why I came out here, right?” Lisa nodded again. “Talk to me.” Lisa didn’t move. “Baby, please?”
“I don’t even know what to say… I’m frustrated? I’m mad? I’m lonely? I donno.” She avoided eye contact with her father.
“Sounds like you’re overwhelmed.” Lisa just slowly nodded in response. “I think… I think talking to a counselor would be a great thing for you.”
“I don’t want to!” Lisa spoke up. “I hate them! They never make me feel better, and it’s so impersonal. Like, I know it’s a job to them and that they see a lot of people, but it always hurts when they act like they know exactly what’s wrong but can’t remember basic details about me.”
“You mean like your last counselor? I remember her. Honestly, I didn’t like her, either.” This shocked Lisa. “I think you should see someone else, someone you can relate to. I met a guy recently. Got to talk to him a lot lately. Actually, it’s how I’ve been spending most of my time. His name is Damario Panagakos. He’s a young psychiatrist. I think you’d like him.” Lisa gave an indignant shrug “Seriously. Will you at least talk to him?” Lisa shrugged again. “Okay. I see your game,” David smirked. “You knooooow, we haven’t played a game of one-on-one since before you started high school.” Out of nowhere, Lisa burst out in laughter.
“What?! You wanna play a game against me?”
“Yup!” David stood to his feet and held out his hand to help Lisa up as well. “Right now. Go get dress and let’s head over to the arena.” When Lisa came to her feet she doubled over with laughter. “I’m serious.”
“Okay. Okay. So, what’s you’re wager?”
“Hmmm. If you win, you have to talk to Damario.”
“Wait! How on earth does that make sense? You can’t make that the prize for if I win. What do you get if YOU win?!”
“That Porsche you haven’t been driving,” David said with his signature smug look.
“Uh uh. No, no-no-no. You ain’t getting my baby.”
“Afraid you’ll lose,” David taunted.
“As freaking if!”
“Then let’s go.” And without a second thought, Lisa put on her sneakers and some clean gym clothes, and the two were ready to head for the arena.
“Lisa,” David said before they left her apartment. He turned around and hugged his daughter once more. He held her for a while before whispering into her ear.
“Pray do not pick the daffodils Their life has just begun, Oh let them live as nature meant, Stood dancing ‘neath the sun.” Lisa wrapped her arms around her father and squeezed him as tight as she could. David continued.
“Nor pluck the roses from their stems For they will wilt and die Oh leave them ling’ring in the earth To grow wherein they lie.” Lisa took a deep breath and the two recited the rest of the poem in unison.
“Each leaf, each bloom, each blade of grass Belongs to mother earth Pray do not take them from the soil Do not destroy their birth.”
“I love you so much, Lisa. I love you, I love you, I love you, I. Love. You.”
“I…” Lisa shifted her weight so that the crown of her head pressed against her father’s chest. “I…” Those next two words stayed stuck in her throat, fighting to finally come out and end the father-daughter feud that has been going on for so long now. “I…”
“It’s okay, Lisa.” David used the knuckle of his pointer finger to lift his daughters chin. “Do you see this?” He ran another finger across the scar on her neck. “This... is NOT a symbol of weakness. This is a battle scar. It was a fight, and you won, ‘cause here you are, still standing. You are my daughter, and you are far stronger than I am. I am so, so proud of you.” Lisa hugged her father again and spoke over his shoulder.
“Daddy…” That was it. That was all she needed to say. She couldn’t say those three words, but that one word was enough. It wasn’t “David” or “Dad” or any harsh word. “Daddy” said everything she needed to say in that moment. David put his hand on the back of Lisa’s head and lifted his own with the hopes that his tears would not surface. He then pulled away and placed both hands on his daughter’s cheeks.
“Look at me,” he began. “I’m gonna kick your ass now and get your Porsche, okay?” His words were said with the same passionate tone that it took Lisa a moment to realize what he had said.
“Not a chance. I’m going to embarrass you,” Lisa said back with the same soft tone. They held for a moment before inevitably laughing at themselves. David let Lisa go and opened the door.
“Shall we?” Lisa laughed again and the two left for the arena.
((Poem written by Valerie Dohren))