I gave her a hug and I don’t know why but I didn’t want to let her go. I wanted to keep her in my arms as long as I could.
We held each other for what seemed like a long time until her father peaked his head in the room.
“Are you kiddos ready to go?”
Campbell turned her head toward her dad, let go of me, and ran to her dad in tears.
“Daddy, I’m so sorry! I won’t be bad again... I promise.”
Campbell ran into her dad’s arms and he whispered some comforting words into her ear.
Eventually, Campbell’s tears dried and her dad led us to his car.
Fortunately, he had an extra booster seat for me to use. Unfortunately, it was hot pink all around.
Campbell was quiet during the whole ride, I watched as she peered out the window. Staring at all of the passing cars.
I noticed her eyes were red and puffy and her tears continued to flood down her face. Only this time she was silent and kept it to herself.
I was about to reach for her hand but she took her hand out of reach before I could try.
She used her hand to wipe away her tears, put on a smile, and looked at me.
“Aren’t you excited for ice cream?” Campbell spoke trying to sound as happy as she could.
I knew she was faking it, I didn’t understand why though. I couldn’t understand why anyone would fake their feelings. Not her, not mom, not anyone for that matter.
But I didn’t have the guts to call her out on it. I knew she was feeling sad, but, I wasn’t going to be the one to add to that. My mom felt sad a lot and sometimes I would say something that I thought would make her happy but it made things worse. I wasn’t good dealing with other people’s feelings. Especially when they wanted nothing more than to fake it all and hide.
All it does is make my head spin.
“Yeah, I’m really excited! What flavor are you gonna get?” I squealed trying to sound excited as well. I didn’t want her to feel even more upset by my mood. I guess you can call me a hypocrite.
“Strawberry! I love Strawberry!” Campbell giggled, “Fletcher, what are you gonna get?”
“Chocolate, it’s the best flavor in the whole wide world!” I laughed, she pouted.
“You don’t know what you’re missing. Strawberry is so good.” Campbell replied while pouting at me as if it would change my mind.
“No, Campbell. It is YOU who don’t know what you’re missing. Chocolate changed my whole life!” I teased her with my over-dramatic behavior.
“Whatever you say, Fletcher.”
Her dad then got out of his seat and unbuckled us from the booster seats.
Together we walked hand in hand to the ice cream shop.
The lady behind the counter happily greeted us as soon as we entered.
“Hello and welcome to Jennifer’s Ice Cream. How may I serve you today?”
Campbell and I practically sprinted to the counter and shouted what ice cream we wanted.
Campbell yelled, “I would like chocolate please!”
I was a bit taken back, I wasn’t expecting her to take my suggestion.
In response, I shouted, “I would like strawberry please!”
She looked at me with a shocked expression and I smiled.
Afterward, we sat at a booth and I tried strawberry ice cream for the first time. The expression on her face when I took my first lick was priceless. It made her so happy.
When she tried her ice cream a bit of it got on her nose and I wiped it off for her.
Periodically I glanced over at her dad and he looked happy watching us but I could tell he wasn’t really happy either. I knew cause my mom had the same look in her eyes.
I tried to ignore it and focus on Campbell but it was hard. I just wanted everyone to feel happy. That’s all I ever really wanted as a kid. Pure happiness for everyone.
I got so lost in my thoughts I hardly noticed the soft serve melt and drip on to my pants.
It wasn’t until Campbell grabbed some napkins and dabbed it onto the stain.
“Daddy always tells me to dab not rub.”
I sat still nervously as she was close to my private area. The closer she inched toward it the more uncomfortable I felt.
I was about to scream my lungs out and then it was like she read my mind.
“I finished!” Campbell announced.
“I can throw your pants in the washing machine at my house, till their clean you can borrow some of Campbell’s sweatpants. Then while the pants are being washed I’ll make dinner.”
David spoke up for the first time in a while.
I wanted to listen but I was still nervous.
My hands were shaking and I was starting to block everyone out.
Eventually, I blocked out all of the noise. Thus trapping myself within my mind. I couldn’t help but remember that awful man...
That man is nothing but a demon... he took my childhood and I was too much of a coward to say something. He... he got away with everything.
That’s something I find hard to accept sometimes.
It’s because of that I have a hard time with something simple like Campbell helping clean my pants.
During the car ride home I remained silent as did Campbell. I was scared to say something to her. I didn’t want to do something wrong or make her worry about me. I didn’t even know why I was acting like that. I knew Campbell wouldn’t hurt me.
“Campbell,” I whispered shyly.
“Yes?” She replied while gazing at the window.
“Never mind, sorry.” I got scared and shut up again. I wished I was like Campbell, she was strong. Me on the other hand... not so much.