“Saari?” He knocked gently on her door, but no answer came. “Hey, Saari, it’s Daniel. Something happened to Dad and I was wondering if…”
The door swung open.
“H-hi, Saari… I-I’m sorry to bother you, but… Dad’s having another breakdown and I… I…”
She stepped aside, allowing him to enter. Saari returned to her desk chair and continued staring at the wall.
“Is everything okay, Saari?”
“Is everything okay, Daniel?”
“Dad didn’t mean to upset you…”
“I did not mean to upset him, but…” she turned to the adjacent wall, “I said something I should not have.”
“That’s okay,” Daniel hopped onto her bed, “We all say things we don’t mean when we’re angry and upset.”
“But I could hear him. Falling apart. Breaking down. Like…” her gaze seemed to sink to her desk, “Like I used to.”
Daniel didn’t know what to say.
“I had Lord Qaitax back then. He helped me grow out of it… Now?” she sighed, “I hope he an help your father.”
“Me too,” Daniel sighed, “Dad needs a lot of help and…” his voice began to shake a bit, “and I don’t think I can help him all the time.”
Saari shook her head, “You cannot. You are his child, much like I was to Lord Qaitax.”
“You’re still his kid, Saari. That didn’t change.”
“Perhaps not, but everything else has.”
“Do you ever wish you could return to an imperfect past rather than face a frighteningly uncertain future?”
“Sometimes, but I’d like to think the future will get better the more we get through it.”
“And what if it is too difficult to face? What if it is beyond our ability to comprehend and overcome?”
“Then we ask for help.”
“Help? I do not…”
“Yes, you do. Everyone does once in a while and it’s okay to ask for it.
“I’m here for you, Saari. I used to imagine having a sibling, but that’s not something I’d ever bring up to Dad. He already feels like he’s failed me so much I wouldn’t want him to think that not having a sibling is upsetting me…”
“I am not human.”
“So? Neither is he anymore! But he’s still my dad and he always will be.
“He didn’t mean to upset you, Saari…”
“And you didn’t upset him. One day at a time, right? We’ll get there,” Daniel smiled at her.
“R-right… One day… at a time…”
“Yup. And there’s no such thing as going to slow. You have to go at your own pace. Don’t let anyone force you into something you don’t want to do. That’s a rule around here. No one is allowed to control or coerce anyone else for any reason.”
“I think you’d do just fine out in the real world, but like could you even survive out there?”
Saari tilted her head back. “If Lord Qaitax survived, I should be able to as well.”
“And if you couldn’t, we’d take you right home. So whenever you’re ready, don’t be scared. We’ll be with you every step of the way.”
Saari looked to her lap where she nervously rubbed her hands together. “Hmm.”
“Our dads just want to help us do better.”
Saari scoffed, “Your father.”
“I-I’m sorry, Saari…”
“It’s not your fault, Daniel. It is simply how things are.”
“But you’re kinda right to be upset. You don’t get to see your dad as much as I do.”
Saari bit her lip, “It is as it should be. Lord Qaitax would visit if he desired to see me.”
“Hmm…” Daniel thought a moment, “Maybe we could ask about Qaitax coming by at certain times? Like certain days of the week or something?”
“It is not important, Daniel.”
“Yes it is, Saari! It’s really important! You need your dad…”
“We’ll figure it out, okay? And I’ll help as much as I can.”
A smile slowly formed on Saari’s lips.
“We’re like siblings now. We gotta look out for each other.”
Without a word, Saari replied with a heartfelt nod and a wide joyous grin.