Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: FRAGILE (02/23/17)
TITLE: Don's China Doll
By Holly Westefeld
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I'd known Don was in a crucial meeting all afternoon, and certainly didn't want him more stressed while driving home, but he isn't going to take this news well, and the delay will make it even worse. Despite being instructed to stay in the playroom until I call her, Dana darts in to the kitchen just as Don opens the door.
"How are my girls this evening?" He stops short. "Where's Dawn?"
Ever since her diagnosis, he nearly panics if Dawn is not attached to one of us at the hip. "She's resting on the sofa." He turns toward the living room. "Wait..."
He sidesteps the hand I try to place on his arm. "Is she sick?"
"Denise! ... Dawn!"
The daggers in his eyes as he sees the bandage on Dawn's head pierce my heart.
He takes a deep breath, then hisses, "Whaaat haaappened!"
"Please sit down, sweetheart," I croak, perching on the recliner. Why am I choking up? I didn't do anything wrong. Accidents happen to all children, but Don had made it very clear that they weren't to happen to his china doll.
He sits, gathering Dawn to cradle in his arms, continuing to radiate reproach. "Hi, Daddy. I get booboo." He brushes kisses across her face.
"The girls were playing tag..."
His glare turns toward Dana.
"I've told you never to chase your sister!"
Dana buries her face on my shoulder, and I feel the heat of her tears. "I'm sorry Daddy. We love to play tag. I didn't mean for Dawn to get hurt."
I find my voice. "Leave Dana out of this! This could have happened to any child. You didn't react like this when Dana needed stitches when she fell off the merry-go-round at the park."
"That was different..."
"Really? How? Just because she could see the ground coming at her?"
"Well, no, but THAT could have happen to any child. A child like Dawn shouldn't be running, or at least not without a grownup's hand."
"She didn't run in to something because she's blind. She just tripped, which could also happen to any child."
Don looks around. "What could she possibly have hit her head on? I put padding on all the corners of the furniture..."
"We were outside. She hit the edge of the patio."
"Oh no!" He eases Dawn back onto the sofa and jumps up. "I never thought of that! I'll go get some outdoor carpet to cover that."
"Honey, let's have dinner. I have tuna casserole ready in the oven. She's not going to be playing outside until after the stitches are removed, so your project can wait til the weekend."
The girls bound for the kitchen. "Tuna! Yummy!"
After the girls are in bed, I broach the ongoing rift about how to raise Dawn. "Don, remember I told you about my friend in high school who is blind?"
He rolls his eyes. "Yes..."
"I managed to catch up with her online recently. She is married, and they have kids about Dana's and Dawn's age. Do you think it might helpif you could meet her, ask her questions?"
"I don't know... That would seem really awkward."
"I mean get to know her and her family, not just start giving her the third degree."
"I'll invite them for the afternoon and dinner some Saturday. It'll be fun!"
"You have an interesting definition of fun."
The doorbell rings, and Candace and I grab each other in a bear hug. She introduces Clay, Charlene, and Christopher. "I have lemonade and cookies out on the patio."
The kids all grab a cookie and head for the swing set, Don on Dawn's heels.
Clay grins at me. "Candace said he's overprotective. Watch this."
He starts pulling equipment out of a bag, placing four beanbags emitting low pitched tones around the open ground in the yard. "Ready to play tag, kids?"
Three kids come running, but Don snatches Dawn up and frowns. Clay clips high pitched beepers to his and their shirts, then offers more to us. I clip one on, but Don shakes his head. "Mom is it," Clay calls, and we all take off running. Candace follows the beeps, and tags Dana.
Don watches for a good ten minutes, but finally sets his china doll down, clips on a beeper and hollers, "Catch me if you can!"
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