One day, Skyla decided that Eugene spent entirely too much time at home. She took him to the art museum just like he used to take her when she was a little girl.
“Isn’t this fun, daddy?”
“Uh huh. A blast, honey bunny.”
“Remember when you used to bring me here when I was little?”
She turned around to go upstairs, and that’s when she saw him. “DADDY! You have a rash!”
“I’m ok though,” he said. “Let’s just sit down for a moment, and then I’ll be good.”
They sat on the nearest ottoman, and Skyla was furious. “You weren’t feeling well when we left, were you? You shouldn’t be around all these people if you’re sick, daddy!”
“But I’m fine! I’m just a little dizzy, that’s all.”
“I’m taking you home!”
One thing about growing up broke was that they could never afford the things they needed, and that included medicine. They were used to fighting illnesses the natural way with rest and fluids. However, there Skyla was, the queen of the Pruett Estate, with everything she could possibly need or want and more money than she could count struggling with her ailing father the natural way. She could have ordered 50 bottles of medicine, but her mind just didn’t go there. That was a foreign concept. So, she took him home, put him to bed, and watched him sleep.
She sat there for two hours waiting on something to happen. She hoped that nothing would happen, but she half expected that something would. After two hours, she got hungry and left him to eat something quickly and return. But, while she was gone, something did happen.
She came back to find him kneeling before the porcelain throne.
She had enough. She dragged her stubborn father to the hospital to get answers and put a stop to his nonchalant behavior. They waited for a half hour in the waiting room before a doctor was available to see Eugene. Finally, someone came for him.
She watched her father trudge away through the heavy metal doors and prayed that everything would be fine.
After an hour, the same nurse returned to the waiting area to address Skyla.
“Excuse me,” she said. “Are you with Eugene Oliver?”
“Yes. He’s my father.” She was nervous.
“Good. The doctor would like to speak to you. Please come with me.”
She arose slowly and followed the nurse through the same doors her father trudged through earlier. She walked down the cold, desolate hallway peering into the windows of the patient rooms to see if she could spot her father, but he was somewhere else. Finally, the nurse stopped walking and motioned for Skyla to step into a room. It was a doctor’s office.
She thought the doctor looked nice enough. There were two chairs in front of the doctor’s desk, so she sat in one.
“Hi,” the woman said. “I’m Dr. Vinson.”
“Oh! I’m a huge fan of Dr. Viviana Pruett! I read all of her research on childhood illnesses. She was remarkable. I was sorry to hear… The medical field lost a legend.”
Skyla had only met Viviana a few times. “She was my husband’s grandmother. I liked her a lot.”
“Oh! So you’re the young, new Mrs., eh? Congratulations! Such a lovely family.”
Skyla was also still getting used to all the fame that was attached to her new last name.
“If you don’t mind, I’m gonna come sit next to you,” Dr. Vinson said. “I never feel right discussing sensitive issues from across a desk. It feels like I’m scolding or something.” She got up and sat across from Skyla. “Ok. I’m just going to cut to the chase. I think you’d appreciate that, right?”
“Yes,” Skyla said nervously.
“Well, unfortunately, I don’t have good news for you, Mrs. Pruett. But, I don’t have bad news either.” She paused to give her words a moment to soak in.
Skyla looked scared.
“Let me ask you something,” the doctor said. “Did your father ever abuse any substances at any point in his life?” She already knew the answer, but she asked her more as a setup for their conversation.
Skyla’s heart sank. She knew exactly where this was going. “He used to drink.”
“Yes, I can tell. So, it seems that his past lifestyle finally caught up with him. His body is worn and can’t defend itself like it used to. That’s why he’s always sick. You can give him medicine to help with the most bothersome symptoms, but they’ll only come back. I explained to him that we could do some reconstructive surgery to reverse the damage, but he’s not interested.”
Skyla felt herself beginning to get emotional, but she was determined not to break down in the hospital. She took a couple deep breaths and cleared her throat. “So…what can be done?”
“Rest. Proper diet. Even exercise could help. Just an overall healthier lifestyle can keep him from getting sick so often, but it won’t prevent illness.”
Skyla scoffed at her statement. “Exercise. My dad is a very lazy man, Dr. Vinson. There is no way I’ll be able to convince him to exercise.”
“I understand. Well, at least he’s getting loads of rest then, huh?”
Skyla smiled. “Yeah. And he eats well. My husband does the cooking. He has a restaurant in Newcrest. You should check it out sometime.”
“I will most definitely do that. Well, Mrs. Pruett, I’m sorry I couldn’t give you any better news, but I didn’t want to sugar coat it for you. He’s not dying. I know it feels like he probably is, but I promise you he isn’t. But…keep him close. You don’t want him catching something serious.”
Skyla thanked Dr. Vinson and met her father in the lobby. They went home in silence. She put him to bed, and then went to her room to process everything she just heard. It all came crashing down on her, and she felt like was choking and needed to get some air. Jonathan had arrived home and found her on the balcony.
“Hey, Sky. Wow…you look like an angel in all that white.
“It’s a really nice night, huh?
“You’re so quiet.” He went over to her and greeted her properly.
“What’s the matter, Sky? You look sad.
“Please talk to me, Sky.”
She left him and sat on the couch, and he joined her. Whatever it was, he knew it was serious and let her find her words in silence.
“We just got back from the hospital…”
Jonathan opened his mouth to interrupt, but he knew there was more to the story and let her take her time to get it all out.
“He’s not going to get better. He’s just going to be sick until he dies.” She sounded so despondent. “He’s a good guy! It’s not like he’s been juicy his whole life. He was in a dark place! He didn’t know what else to do! But now he has to pay for the mistakes he made in a small period of time? How is that even fair?”
“But, wait, Sky! Isn’t there something we can do?”
“Sure, Jonathan. There are plenty of things that we can do, but none of them are going to happen!” She didn’t mean to raise her voice, but she was frustrated. “I can’t handle all of this! I can’t meet with OJenn, make sure the contractors are doing what they’re supposed to, paint pictures for the nursery, and watch my father like he’s a baby! I can’t do all of this! And what if we are having a baby? It’s too much! Something has to give.”
It pained Jonathan to see Skyla like that. He couldn’t make all her troubles go away, but he was willing to do whatever he could to alleviate as many of them as he could. He wrapped his arms and around her and held her tightly. “It’s going to be ok. I’ll help you.”
“I can’t take you away from the restaurant, Jonathan.”
“It’s my restaurant. I do what I want.”
“No, Jonathan! We can live with dry wall and cement floors for a little while. OJenn will understand.”
“But, Sky! I want you to have your house. I want you to finish this project.”
“I was fine with the way the house was before! I didn’t need this.”
“I want you to have it. I can open the restaurant any time I want. I’ll deal with OJenn in the mornings and early afternoons, and I’ll run dinner service at the restaurant.”
“If that’s what you want,” she conceded.
“It’s what I want.”