Now&Forever: Unanswered Questions
Not believing her daughter for a minute, Nikki sceptically asked, “Oh yeah?”
“Yeah, excuse me,” Victoria replied, as she started walking out the door. She tried to act nonchalant, but neither Nikki, nor Victor were fooled for a minute. “Where’s she going?” Nikki asked, turning to Victor, puzzled.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be back. I’m taking care of breakfast.” Victoria smiled and walked out of her room and downstairs to the kitchen, leaving her parents alone to talk.
Once she’d left, Victor turned to Nikki, and with a sigh, said, “We need to talk.”
Eyeing him worriedly, Nikki asked, “What? What’s wrong?”
Running his fingers through his hair, and letting out a deep, worried sigh, Victor replied, “More and more, I think you’re right. We need to worry about Victoria.” Walking back upstairs and back into the room, Victoria cut in. “No you don’t. Mom, don’t listen to him. Breakfast is almost ready.”
“Okay, we’ll get changed and be right down.” Nikki tried to paste on a smile as she looked at her daughter. Then, she looked at Victor and exchanged a worried look with him.
Not knowing if there was any connection between his conversation and the way Victoria was acting, but thinking it was best if Nikki knew about it, all the same, Victor turned to her and said, a little absentmindedly, “You know, I had a very strange conversation with Victoria last night.”
Instantly attentive, Nikki asked, “What did she say?”
“At first she wanted me to go away. I waited a few minutes, and, eventually she let me in. I tried to get her to open up about whatever she’s got going on. I could tell something was wrong, since it was pretty early in the morning and she was still wide awake. She looked like she hadn’t slept at all, her eyes were red and puffy, and a little bloodshot. I could tell she’d been crying.”
“So, what did she tell you?” Nikki asked impatiently.
“Not much, she tried to pretend everything was fine. She asked me what I was doing up, once I told her about the business call I got, I tried to get her to tell me why she was up, why she couldn’t sleep. Now that I think of it, she was pretty pale too.”
“Let me guess, it didn’t work.” Frustration tinged Nikki’s voice.
“Not by a longshot.”
“Perfect, just perfect! We’re right back where we started!”
“Nikki, wait a minute, we can’t give up. We can’t give up now!”
Defensively, Nikki rounded on him. “Do I look like I’m giving up?! Do I?!”
“Okay, okay, all I’m saying is that we can’t lose sight of our goal. Victor’s heart broke to see the effect this was having on Nikki. Once they’d both calmed down somewhat, Victor continued. “All she would tell me was that she couldn’t sleep.”
“She didn’t say anything else?” Nikki asked skeptically. “All she told me was that she had a lot on her mind. She wouldn’t even look me in the eye. It’s almost as if she was afraid to.”
“What, that doesn’t make sense,” Nikki countered.
“I know, but it’s the truth. Anyway, I asked her if she was okay, and she assured me she was.”
“Then, why don’t you seem convinced?” Nikki asked knowingly.
“Because, from the way she’s been acting, it’s obvious she’s anything but okay.”
“She maintained she’s fine.” Victor angrily bit out. “I tried to reason with her, I told her the only way we can help her is if she talks to us.”
“How did she take that?”
“How do you think?”
“She clammed up?”
“No, she asked me if we really wanted to help, when I told her we did, she said the best way, the only way for us to help her is to focus on each other and our marriage. She said to forget about her and just focus on each other.”
“That doesn’t make sense! How does she think we can do that when there’s obviously something wrong?” Nikki’s frustration climbed with each passing moment.
“I asked her what she meant and she said, at least she’d know we’d have the support we need, especially you.”
“What? This doesn’t make any sense!”
“I know it doesn’t. I couldn’t figure it out, I thought something was wrong with you, or the baby. But, she assured me that wasn’t it.” Victor was almost apologetic, as he looked at Nikki.
“She made me promise I’d focus on you,” Victor continued with a furrowed brow.
“And? Then what?” Nikki asked, still digging for answers.
“And nothing, that’s when you came in.” Victor finished.
“What’s going on with her, and what do we have to do to get her to talk to us?!” Nikki asked frustrated, as her imagination kicked into overdrive, trying to figure out what the problem was.
“Wait a minute, Gary Dawson!” Nikki exclaimed, thinking, perhaps he was the cause of this whole thing.
“What about him?” Victor asked, confused.
“Victoria ran in to him a day or two ago.”
Victor replied angrily, “And, why am I just finding out about this now?“
Nikki defensively replied, her anger matching that of her husband. “I forgot about it, alright! With everything else that’s been going on, it didn’t seem like there was any connection between that and the way Victoria’s been acting!” Calming down a little, she continued, half to herself, “But now, I’m wondering if there is.”
“So, what happened?” Victor asked, as he anxiously awaited details.
She went out somewhere and ended up running to Dawson, they got into an argument and he ended up slapping her, he left a bruise on her cheek.” Nikki replied. “She was hoping I wouldn’t notice that she’d been gone, or that she was acting very strange. At first, she wouldn’t tell me what happened, then, she finally told me she was at a club and that she ran into Gary Dawson.”
“What club was she at?” Victor asked, hoping that would offer them a clue as to what was going on with Victoria.
“I don’t know.” Although it was the truth, one look at Victor told her she was better off telling him anything but that.
“What do you mean you don’t know? How could you not know? Why didn’t you ask her?!” Victor demanded, frustrated, worried, and getting frightened.
Nikki, in controlled frustration shot back, “For your information, I was a little more concerned with that creep and what he did to her, especially considering the state she was in when she got home!” She continued defensively and wearily, “So, excuse me if I forgot to quiz her on her whereabouts!” Calming down a little, she continued. “Do you want to hear the rest of this, or not?”
Victor nodded and whispered quietly, “Yes.”
“I asked her what kind of club she was at, she wouldn’t ell me, all she said was sh was fine, so I didn’t have to worry about her. We argued a little more, and, again, she told me she was fine. Finally, she decided I wasn’t going to let anything go, so she told me about the run-in with that scumbag.”
“What did you say, what did you do when she finally told you what really happened?”
“What do you think I did? The thought of him anywhere near her makes me see red! It makes me sick!”
“I can imagine,” Victor replied sympathetically.
Nikki offered him a small smile before continuing. “She insisted she was fine, she couldn’t understand why I was so upset.”
“What? What do you mean, she couldn’t understand why you were upset? What did she think you’d do, just sit there and smile after she told you he’d assaulted her?!” Victor exclaimed in frustration.
“You’re right, but, more and more I get the feeling she’s not thinking clearly, she’s not in her right mind…I don’t know, it’s just a feeling I’ve got.” Shaking her head, Nikki continued. “I told her she obviously wasn’t fine, she was a wreck when she came home. She was hoping that nobody was home, that nobody would notice she’d been gone.”
“Then what happened?” Victor asked, listening intently.
“She asked me if I could blame her, she told me to look at my reaction when I found out what happened. She said it proved her point.”
“What point?” Victor asked, confused.
“That’s what I asked her. she said we’re better off without her.” The last sentence came out on a whisper, as Nikki felt a lump form in her throat and tears well up in her eyes.
“That’s ridiculous!” Victor couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“Right, I tried to convince her that’s not true, but she wouldn’t listen. She told me to look at our marriage and then tell her that nothing’s wrong. She said that she was putting too much strain on us and our marriage, she said we’re so stressed out worrying about her, we hardly spend any time together. She’s convinced she’s right. she told me it has to stop. She said sheknew finding out about what happened would stress me out even more, so she didn’t say anything. She told me that she’s put enough stress on us both.
“That’s complete nonsense! Not a word of that is true!” Victor exclaimed as his heart broke for his daughter, once more.
“She told me that her being here isn’t good or healthy, not for her, or us, or Abby. And, it’s not good for the baby, either.”
Victor’s head snapped up as the last sentence registered. “What? That doesn’t make any sense.”
“No, it doesn’t, you’re right. I asked her what she was talking about, and, at first she tried to brush it off, but then she told me I’d already lost one baby because of her, she wouldn’t let me lose another.”
“What? That wasn’t her fault. It was an accident.” Victor sat there, completely at a loss for words.
“Then, she told me she was done talking and left. I didn’t get anything out of her. I wish I did, but I didn’t.” Nikki finished on an apologetic note.
What he’d just heard had Victor’s imagination going overdrive and his blood pressure skyrocketing. “And, you’re asure you don’t know where she was, you’re sure she didn’t tell you?” Victor asked, double checking.
“Victor, I told you I don’t know why would I tell you I don’t know if I did, don’t you think I’d tell you?!” Nikki spat back defensively.
“I’m sorry, I just want to find out what’s going on with her.” Victor tried to apologize, but Nikki wouldn’t listen.
Sighing, she returned tiredly, defensively, “And you think I don’t?” “Look, you’re right, I’m not helping the situation. I’m just frustrated because I don’t know what’s going on with her. I don’t mean to start anything, the last thing I want to do is fight with you. I mean, all we want to is help her.” Sighing, he continued. “Why can’t she let us in? Why can’t she do that? Why is she shutting us out like this?! It doesn’t make any sense!”
Pacing to the piano and picking up a family photo, Nikki shut her eyes to the pain seething within her, as tears welled up in her eyes, and replied, “I wish I knew.” Barely audible, she repeated, “I wish I knew.”
Running his fingers through his hair and sighing before pacing to the piano and wrapping his arms around Nikki from behind, around her shoulders, Victor replied, “Everything will be fine.”
Taking a minute to relax, leaning against him, Nikki relished of his tensile strength. Feeling secure in the knowledge that whatever may come, they’d always face it together, and she’d never be alone again, Nikki replied, “I hope you’re right.”
Trying to sound confident and optimistic, so Nikki wouldn’t get scared, or lose hope, Victor turned her to face him and replied, “Of course I am. Listen to me. Victoria is a fighter, she’s strong, and she’ll get through this.
Refusing to look at him, Nikki focussed her attention on the picture in her hands, and wondered what would become of her daughter if she couldn’t get through to her, or help her in any way.
Victor tilted her chin upward, so she had to look him in the eye, and whispered emphatically, “She’ll be okay!”
“Can you guarantee that?” Nikki asked sombrely, frightened and unsure. Victor remained silent, as she shut his eyes tightly, in pain. Needing to lash out, Nikki screamed fearfully, almost accusingly, “You can’t, can you? You can’t guarantee me that whatever we do will be enough to help her! You can’t guarantee me that we won’t end up losing her, regardless of how much we want her to bee okay, of how hard we try to help her!”