The Doctor's Fake NannyBy: Tiana Cole
I smiled at him tentatively, wondering if he would join us in the pancake extravaganza, but he remained where he was. It seemed that he would rather just observe than participate and I wondered how often that was the case. Maybe that was part of the reason Sophie was so starved for attention.
“What we have here is pancakes. Sophie has some very unusual methods for making them. Seems like she’s all set to be a little inventor.”
I thought that would make him smile, but instead his eyes clouded over and it was clear that he had gone to some other place in his head. It didn’t look like it was a cheerful place.
“Is she? That’s nice.”
His voice was distracted and he made his way to the messy kitchen table to go through what looked like thousands of papers. How did he find anything on that table? I always felt like a cluttered environment meant a cluttered mind. Is that what he had? A cluttered mind? If so, just what was it that was distracting him? I had to wonder if it had anything to do with the thing that led him to give my sister a medication that wound up killing her instead of making her better.
“We made them for you, too! We made millions I think.”
Sophie was off her stool and sprinting across the kitchen to him as quickly as her fat little legs would carry her. She was so proud to be making him breakfast and I cringed, hoping that they actually tasted like food. Her creativity was admirable, but not necessarily the best thing for the flavor profile of our breakfast. She reached him and went to wrap her arms around his leg, but she was rebuffed.
I couldn’t help it. My mouth dropped open in shock. I had never seen a man shrug his daughter off that way. The motion had such an air of finality to it that it made it clear that he had no interest in Sophie touching him.
“Don’t you want to see them, Daddy?”
That’s when things got worse. Not only did he shrug her off, when he heard the word “daddy” come out of her sweet little mouth he cringed. He actually visibly cringed. It was very clear to me that he didn’t like hearing her say that, and if it was clear to me, it was clear to Sophie.
Sometimes people were so stupid when it came to children. It was like they didn’t think kids could tell what was going on around them. How did they not realize that children picked up on everything? They could tell how you felt in general and they could definitely tell how you felt about them. No wonder she was so eager for attention. Her own father acted like he couldn’t stand getting close to her. That would do a number on anyone.
He glanced up and saw me watching him, then stood abruptly. I’d never had much of a poker face, that was a fact. I’ve always been one of those people whose emotions are written all over their face, whether I liked it or not. With the things going through my head watching that interaction, god only knew what kind of expression I had at the moment. Whatever it was, it was enough to make it clear to David that I strongly disapproved of what had just transpired between him and Sophie. He stood abruptly, tightening his tie in an almost defensive gesture.
“She’s covered in flour,” he said weakly, actually taking several steps back from where Sophie sat on the floor. She looked up at him with hurt and confusion and I continued to stare at him in poorly masked disgust.
“I’ve got to go to work. I wouldn’t have time to change. Thanks for the breakfast, ladies, really. But I’ll have to take a raincheck.”
That was all of the excuse he offered up and then he was gone, the door to the kitchen swinging in his wake. If we had been in a cartoon, there would have been burnt tire marks and smoke following closely behind him. What a prick. In a very short amount of time I had become a hell of a lot less conflicted about whether or not I should really try and dig up the dirt that would ruin Dr. Wyatt.
Of course I should. Of course a man who would treat his daughter like that would do any number of other things that would harm people, destroy them. It was pretty evident that the only person he cared about was himself. What was the point of feeling guilty for undermining a man like that?
“He doesn’t want me.”
Sophie delivered the line like a little miniature adult. It was so matter of fact it made my insides hurt, like it was just another part of life that she would have to deal with. But then she started to cry, to sob like she would die from the heartbreak of it all, and she was totally and completely a child once again.
I went to her, got down on the floor next to her and wrapped my arms around her as she crawled into my lap. All childish heat and salty tears, she buried her face into my shoulder, cried until she was too tired to cry anymore. I never told her to stop. A child should be allowed to feel their heartbreak without being told to be quiet and put on a happy face. All of us should, for that matter.