“We have to take your doll away, Hallie.”
Hallie hugged Matilda closer to her body. “How come, Mommy?”
“You see, the reason Matilda can talk is because she has a battery inside. Unfortunately, that battery has caused many Matilda dolls to catch on fire.”
Hallie’s eye grew wider. “Can’t we just take the battery out?”
Daddy shook his head. “It’s not that simple, sweetie. There’s a whole electrical component inside Matilda’s body that is defective. It’s not easy to access, either. The people who made Matilda made her to ‘last through childhood.’ That’s why we can’t just open her belly and remove the battery.”
“But—but I love Matilda, Daddy. She’s my best friend.”
“I know, Hallie, and I’m really sorry,” Daddy said gently. “But if we let you keep Matilda, she might catch on fire, and then you could get hurt.”
Hallie fiercely shook her head. “No, Daddy. Matilda would never hurt me.”
Daddy sighed. “She might even set the house on fire, and then we’ll have no place to live.”
“I don’t care!” Hallie screamed, her lower lip quivering.
“Hallie! Please calm down. Your father is trying to protect you.” Mommy said firmly.
“But I love Matilda!” Hallie wailed. “I’m going to be so sad if you take her away!”
“It’s for your best, Hallie. For all of us.” Daddy said, maintaining his composure.
“I’ll hate you forever if you take her from me!” Hallie was now sprawled on the floor, kicking and screaming.
“Take the doll now,” Mommy said quietly, looking away. Daddy rose from the couch and sat on the floor next to Hallie.
“Hallie, please listen to me. If you give me Matilda, I will give you an even better doll.”
Hallie sniffled as she looked up at Daddy. “But there’s no doll like Matilda, Daddy.”
“Perhaps not, but there are better dolls. Ones that do not catch on fire.”
“But…but I will miss her so much.”
“I know.” Daddy put his hand out. “But will you give her to me? Otherwise, I’ll have to take her away from you.”
Hallie squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head.
“No?” Daddy asked.
Hallie paused. Then she shook her head again.
Daddy sighed. “I don’t want to do this, Hallie, but you’ve given me no choice.”
Daddy firmly seized Hallie’s wrists and broke her embrace around Matilda.
“Daddy, please!” She screamed. She tried to pull her arms away but Daddy held them still.
“Take the doll, Marge.” He said calmly.
“Ralph…” Mommy trailed off.
“Take the doll, Marge!”
Mommy wiped a tear from her own face as she got up from the couch, ran over to Hallie, and snatched up Matilda.
“NO!” Hallie screamed. “Mommy!!!!!!”
Mommy disappeared from view as she swung open the screen door and brought Matilda outside. Daddy released Hallie’s wrists but remained next to her on the floor.
“I hate you, Daddy!” Hallie began to slam her fists against Daddy’s arms. “I hate you I hate you I hate you!”
Daddy remained calm. “I love you, Hallie. And I want what’s best for you. Someday you’ll understand that.”
Hallie quietly continued to punch Daddy. Mommy ran back in, panting.
“Did you take care of it?” Daddy asked.
Mommy nodded, still trying to catch her breath.
“Good.” Daddy got up, leaving Hallie on the floor.
“You should apologize to your father, Hallie!” Mommy yelled sternly.
“Leave her be, Marge. She’ll come around in her own time.”
Hallie rolled over and faced the couch.
Does Daddy really love me?
Last year I met a guy online.
I realized over time that I had to let him go, especially after he did something which could have gotten him in trouble.
I trust that I made the right choice. Still, for weeks afterward I felt this pain in my chest, and while I’ve come a long way, it still hurts a little when I remember. Especially since I haven’t met anyone I’ve connected with since then.
He’s been orbiting back into my life over the past few months, and while I’ve entertained the idea of a distant friendship, I’m not even sure that’s the best course of action. I tend to be an all-or-nothing type of person.
So it’s a bit ambiguous right now.
Thanks for reading.