Daddy and I are on our way to get flowers for Addison or mommy or, well I'm not sure what to call her but we are getting flowers for her. Daddy pulled into a parking space and I read the sign that said "Carlos Family Flowers". Carlos, why did that sound so familiar? I shrugged and walked inside with daddy. It was beautiful in here, so many flowers. There were pinks, yellows, reds, purples, but my favorite were the blues. I picked out some flowers and handed them to my daddy. "Do you think Addison would have like these?" I asked him.
He smiled. "I think Addison would have loved these."
Daddy and I approached the checkout counter and I suddenly realized why Carlos sounded so familiar. I looked into the eyes of the woman who I thought was going to be my mommy. I looked beside her where I saw the man that ruined me. The man that always hurt me and told me if I said anything he would hurt Mrs. Carlos. I loved Mrs. Carlos and didn't want anything to happen to her ever so I never told her about him. She found out though, when he threw me down the stairs and broke my ankle. She told me that she loved me but she couldn't keep me because she had to keep me safe. So I was bounced through more foster homes that hurt. Mr. Carlos was a mean daddy.
Mrs. Carlos looked down and smiled at me. "Payton, sweetie is that you?"
I clutched daddy's hand and moved behind his leg. "My you have grown." Mr. Carlos said. That scared me so I ran outside and to the car.
I sat for a few minutes waiting on daddy and eventually I saw him but he didn't look very happy. He got in the car and sat down in his seat he turned to look at me. "Pay what was that? Why were you so rude?"
I didn't mean to be rude I was just afraid. "I'm sorry daddy, it's just Mr. Carlos is a mean daddy."
"What do you mean he seemed nice to me." Of course he seemed nice to you. He seemed nice to me until he started hitting me.
"You wouldn't understand. You're a nice daddy and he's a mean daddy. Can we go now? I want to see Addison." I said trying to get him to stop questioning about Mr. Carlos. I wanted to tell daddy I just didn't know how to. He's already sad and I don't want him to be any sadder.
"Of course." Daddy said. I was satisfied for now but I knew daddy would want more answers.
We pulled up to a cemetery and daddy pulled over somewhere. "Are we there?" I asked.
"Yes. It's right up this hill."
I followed daddy up to a grave. I wanted to talk to Addison but not in front of daddy. After daddy helped me arrange the flowers I asked him "Daddy, can I talk to Addison alone?"
"Sure sweetie." He answered.
Once daddy was far enough away that I knew he couldn't hear me I fell to my knees and began to cry. "Hey Addison, or mommy, well I don't know what to call you but Meredith is my mommy and I really like her so I'll call you Addison I hope that is ok with you. So yeah it's me Payton, you know from the whole you helping me come back to live with daddy instead of going to heaven. Today I saw my old mommy. She was a nice mommy. Mrs. Carlos even let me call her mommy. Mr. Carlos was a mean daddy though. He used to hurt me a lot. I wanted to tell Mrs. Carlos or the social worker but he told me if I ever said anything that he would hurt Mrs. Carlos and she was nice so I didn't want her to hurt. I don't want anyone to hurt, that's part of the reason I'm not telling daddy. He already hurts so much because of my cancer that I don't want him to hurt anymore. The cancer hurts really bad but I'm not going to tell Aunt Hayley or Uncle Tom because I don't want them to hurt. I hate when people hurt. Today Aunt Nancy and everyone are coming over to Nana's for dinner. I like Aunt Nancy a lot. She told me you were one of her best friends. Maybe I can tell her or Aunt Kathleen. Aunt Kathleen is very nice and easy to talk to. See this is all part of the reason I don't want to make daddy hurt. If daddy hurts anymore he might hurt me or send me back. I love all the family, everyone. I even love my Seattle family. I just don't want to go back. Maybe I can tell that to daddy but maybe it's a bad idea. Anyway I really wish you could be here. I wish you could tell me what to do. I love you Addison and I'll comeback to visit soon I promise."
I stood up and turned around. I saw daddy leaning on his car and I decided to go get in the car. I sat down in the back seat and daddy got in. "Did you have a nice talk?" He asked me.
"I did." I said. Maybe I could tell him now. I just don't want him to be sad. I guess I won't tell him.
"Well we should get back. Everyone should be over soon." He said. I could tell that he wanted me to say more than I did but I just couldn't. Maybe he wasn't upset about that. Maybe I made him sad and now he was going to send me back.
We got back to Nana's and I didn't want to talk to anyone so I ran up to my bedroom and sat on my bed. I sat staring at the wall just thinking about everything that had happened today. A while passed and I heard Aunt Nancy call up the stairs for me. I sighed and went down stairs.
I took my seat at the table and ignored looking at daddy. I stared at my plate of food. Maybe I could see if daddy was ever going to be mean. If I was bad I would know. I could take it if he hit me. It wouldn't be too bad. I was just going to act bad and see what he would do.
"Pay aren't you hungry sweetie?" Dad asked me looking at me sadly. He probably thought I felt sick again.
"I want cake." I answered stubbornly.
"You can have cake after you eat your dinner." Daddy said calmly though I could hear irritation in his voice.
"I don't want dinner I want cake." I said.
"No Payton. I've already told you to eat your dinner." He said. I pushed my plate off the table. "Payton Carolyn Shepherd! Apologize to Nana and help me clean this up then you can go up to your room and think about what you just did."
"NO!" I tried to run to my room but daddy grabbed my arm.
"PAYTON! YOU WILL DO AS I SAY!" Daddy was starting to sound like Mr. Carlos now.
"YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND!" I yelled as I broke his grasp on me and ran up the stairs locking my door as I lay down on my bed and cried.
I couldn't believe Payton! First she was rude to two perfectly nice people and now this? Meredith and I had been pretty lenient with her but this was insane. "I'm sorry about that. I'll clean everything up. I don't know what's gotten into her."
"Well why was she so angry with you in the first place?" Kathleen asked me.
"Kids why don't you take your dinner to the kitchen and finish up." Nancy suggested.
They all carried their plates to the kitchen and I answered Kathleen. "I'm not exactly sure, we ran into some of her former foster parents. They seemed nice but she told me that the man was a mean daddy. I asked what she meant but she told me that I wouldn't understand because I was a nice daddy and then she changed the subject."
"Mean daddy? Like an abusive daddy?" Hayley asked.
I shrugged. "He seemed nice to me and was concerned about Pay when she ran off after he tried talking to her. He didn't seem abusive."
"No parent ever SEEMS abusive. I see it every day. The parent brings their kid to me with a broken bone and seems upset and concerned and then I see the x-rays of tons of healed fractures. No parent ever comes off as abusive. It's sad really." Michael suggested.
"Maybe they were abusive but I feel like that isn't the only reason." I said. Sure she was probably upset about that but there had to be something else, something more. "I'm going to go check on her, don't worry I will clean up the mess when I get back."
I walked up the stairs and stopped in front of her door. I heard her crying and knocked on the door. "Payton, I'm not mad I just want to talk. Can I come in?"
"No!" She said between sobs.
"Please sweetie, let me in." I pleaded with my stubborn 7 year old.
I was happy to have won the battle as I saw the door knob turn. I looked into my angel's sweet blue eyes. They were red and puffy from crying but still gorgeous. "Sweetie, please talk to me." I begged.
"You wouldn't understand! Just leave me alone! I want to be alone!"
I didn't want to leave her but I knew that with her stubbornness there was no other option. I left my daughter's room and walked back to my family. I knew what I needed to do. I needed to do what I used to do when I got upset. I needed to pay my father a visit. I looked at mom and told her "I need to go out for a little while." I said.
"Go ahead. I'll be fine with Pay."
I drove to dad's grave and got out of the car and knelt in front of his grave. "Dad, I don't know what to do. Please help me know what to do with Payton."
I cried myself to sleep after ignoring my aunts pleading to come talk to me. I was so tired and the tears made me give in to sleep.
Mr. Carlos gave me a creepy grin. "I'm glad your daddy gave you back. It is so much fun having you around to hurt." He said as he slapped my face.
"I WANT MY DADDY!" I screamed.
"Daddy can't help you know you little bitch!" He yelled at me.
"I WANT MY DADDY!" I screamed again. I felt a hand on my arm and shrieked. "Don't hurt me! PLEASE DON'T HURT ME!"
"I'm not going to hurt you baby. Please look at me." It was Nana. She sounded nervous and sad.
I opened my eyes to look at her. "I want daddy." I said.
"He went out sweet heart. I'll call him ok?" I nodded. I began sobbing the moment Nana left. I sobbed as she came and wrapped her arms around me. I sobbed with my head on her chest. I sobbed as daddy took me from Nana's arms and into his own.
"Shh, sweetie it's ok, daddy's here." I sobbed even more at the sound of his voice. He was going to send me back.
"Daddy, don't send me back!" I begged him.
"Baby, I would never send you back." He said as he rubbed my back.
"But you did! You did and Mr. Carlos hurt me again!" I sobbed.
"It was a dream baby, just a dream. I would never send you back, ever."
"It wasn't just a dream, it was so real."
"I know it seemed real but it wasn't. Look at me sweetie." I shook my head. "Please sweetie." I looked into his eyes which had tears in them. "I will NEVER send you back. You belong with me and your mommy. We love you. You are never going anywhere. Your mommy and I love you so much Payton. We will never let anyone hurt you ever. We will always protect you. You are our daughter, our little angel. You aren't going anywhere. I love you. The whole family loves you. You are Payton Carolyn SHEPHERD and that will never change. You belong with us. You are MY girl."
I stopped crying and put my head on his chest. For the first time in very long time I felt safe and secure in his arms for the first time in a very long time. I was daddy's girl.