“Nikki, enough! I’m going and that’s the end of it!” Victor boomed, his eyes ice cold.
“And what, I’m just supposed to sit here at home like a good little wife wringing my hands? Not a chance! No way in hell am I going to do that! No way in hell am I going to just sit back while you play the macho man and land yourself in the hospital, or worse!” Nikki warned, finally fed up with him and his attitude, his constant placating and secrecy.
“Nikki, you’re overreacting!” He exclaimed.
“And you’re not reacting at all! Victor, drop the macho man garbage and look at this for a minute, really look at it. You’re in enough trouble as it is! One wrong move and you could die! You know this, it’s nothing new, we’ve been over it a hundred times! Why are you being so stubborn? Why won’t you just do what the doctors are telling you? Why is that so impossible for you? What are you so afraid of?” Nikki asked, determined to get the answers she was after.
“Nikki, why are you getting so worked up about this? It doesn’t have anything to do with you! This is my call!” Victor bellowed, finally losing his temper.
“No way! This isn’t your call, it’s ours and you aren’t going anywhere without me!” Nikki exclaimed, his temper matching that of her husband.
“Nikki, I’m going to Buffalo and that’s the end of it, alright!” Victor demanded, refusing to see her side of the situation at all.
“Over my dead body!” Nikki told him, making it crystal clear he was going nowhere without her!
“Nikki-” he was about to set her straight when the pitter-patter of little feet coming down the stairs stopped him in his tracks.
Bleary-eyed, Abby walked into the livingroom clutching her teddy bear and crying.
“Baby, did you have a nightmare?” Nikki whispered softly as she turned her attention to Abby’s scared little face.
Abby silently nodded as tears slipped down her cheeks.
“My sweetheart, come here,” Victor whispered as he took her hand and lead her to the couch.
Picking her up and holding her tight as she sat on his lap, Victor said, “It was just a bad dream, that’s all. There’s nothing to be afraid of, alright?”
“Sweetheart, can you tell us what the bad dream was about?” Nikki asked softly.
Abby thought about it for a few moments and then looked into her father’s eyes.
At that moment, it was painfully clear what she had dreamt of.
“Abby honey, did you have a bad dream about Daddy? Was it about something happening to him?” Nikki gently probed a little further.
Again, Abby said nothing as she clung to Victor and berried her face against his shirt.
Heartbroken, Victor held her tight and let her cry.
After a few minutes, Abby was clam enough to listen to what they had to say. Victor went first. “Abby, I want you to listen to me, alright? Can you do that for me?”
Her breathing still hitching on her tears, Abby silently nodded.
“Good. Nothing’s going to happen to me, nothing at all. So, I don’t want you worrying, okay? I don’t want you worrying about anything.”
“That’s right, nothing’s going to happen to Daddy. We won’t let it. I promise you I’m not going to let anything happen to him.” Nikki asked softly, her heart breaking for this little girl who had already been through so much.
Silently, a little calmer than she had been before, Abby nodded and, looking from Nikki to Victor and back again, whispered, “You promise?”
“We promise,” Victor reassured her before they took her back upstairs to bed.
“Now do you see why I keep telling you you need to stay here? Victor, Abby’s terrified of losing you and she’s not the only one!” Nikki exclaimed as they climbed into bed for the night.
“Nikki, you don’t have to worry about me, alright? I’ll be fine, I promise nothing’s going to happen to me. I’ll be home before you know it.” Victor tried his best to soothe her.
“Victor, you’re not hearing me! This isn’t up for discussion, you’re not going anywhere, especially without me!”
“Nikki, come on be reasonable.”
“I am being reasonable, you’re just not seeing it. Then again, maybe you just don’t want to see it, I don’t know.” Nikki replied, unwilling to give in.
“This isn’t over, Nikki. You haven’t gotten the last word,” Victor warned as he fell asleep for the night.
The next morning as soft warm sunlight peeked through the bedroom curtains, Nikki awoke to an empty bed. “Damn it!” Nikki swore as she sat up and threw off the covers.
As she got up and started walking out of the master bedroom, Nikki felt a swift kick. “Well, morning. I know you’re hungry, so am I. But first we need to find Daddy and talk some sense into him,” Nikki said with a smile as she put a hand on her stomach.
After feeling another swift kick, Nikki said, “Yeah, I know. Daddy’s being more stubborn than usual, but we’ll get through to him yet. Then we’ll eat. Sound good?” Nikki asked with a smile.
The baby kicked once more before falling silent again.
Just as Nikki was about to head downstairs to look for him, Victor walked out of the master bathroom.
“There you are. What’s going on? Where are you going?”
“What makes you think I’m going anywhere?” Victor asked evasively.
“Victor.” “Nikki, we went through all this last night. We discussed this, I’m going to Buffalo, I’ll see you in a few days.” With that, Victor walked down the hall and downstairs.
“Not so fast!” Nikki called after him angrily.
“You’re not going anywhere until we talk this out!”
“What’s left to talk about?” Victor asked tired of rehashing the same things over and over again.
“Victor, what do you mean what’s left to talk about? Just wait here while I get changed. I’ll be right back, don’t go anywhere!” Nikki said before hurrying back upstairs to change.
After hesitating for a few moments, Victor picked up a note pad and pen and began to write.
I’m sorry, but I have to go. I don’t expect you to agree with this or like it. But, it’s something I need to do. It’s time I faced a few things, things I’ve been running from for far too long. I’ll be back before you know it.
I love you, now and forever.
With one last, heartbroken look towards the stairs, Victor walked out of the livingroom and into the entrance. Picking up his suitcase, he didn’t dare turn around for fear he’d lose his nerve and never do what he knew he needed to, if he were to ever move on with his life.