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Thirty Three

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Speak to me in a language I can hear- Thirty-Three by The Smashing Pumpkins

 

By the time Daryl got home that morning he knew immediately something was wrong. Merle truck was in the driveway, but Tara’s car was gone. His sister was not an early riser usually. Merle and Andrea were though and they should have been gone by now, he planned it that way, truth be told. Sometimes he couldn’t face Merle and Andrea, for a lot of reasons, he knew he was disappointing them, but it was also so hard to see a happy in love couple.

He didn’t get to have that and Tara never made him feel like a fuck up.

Merle was the one who should have been gone, not Tara. There was something very wrong, he had left his phone in the car the night before, but now he knew there were probably a ton of missed calls and he had been too drunk to care.

Suddenly his heart was in his throat, Tara had Emily last night, he thought to himself as he barreled into the house. He was still drunk and he stumbled through the door and almost tripped over the throw rug that he knew was there.

Merle was in the kitchen sitting at the table when he ran in. Merle nodded for him to sit, he was glad Andrea had already left for work, because she would not want Merle to give Daryl what he was about to give him.

“Where’s Tara?” Daryl cried as he reached the doorway. Usually, when he got home at this time, which was ten am Tara would have Emily up and be feeding her already. Merle would be sitting there cooing at his niece sometimes and trying to make her smile. Andrea always left first for work, then Merle and Tara stayed with Emily until Daryl got home at three, then she went to her job. The house ran like a well-oiled machine, but something was off.

He didn’t hear his baby cooing and he longed to see her face now, even though he had gone out last night to get away from her. He hated to admit that, but it was true.

Emily had the brightest green eyes, just like Izzie did. And her dark hair, it gave him peace to see Izzie’s face in the little girl, sometimes and sometimes it just broke his heart all over again. And already she was turning out to be her mother’s daughter. Merle laughed at that all the time, he said Emily would be just like her. A Dixon with no fear and that child was going to give all three of them a run for her money. She already was apparently.

“She had to take your daughter to the hospital. She got a fever and we couldn’t get it down. “Merle said. “She’s ok now but we got to talk.”

Daryl looked at him through bloodshot eyes and Merle wrinkled his nose at the way he reeked of alcohol like it was coming out of his pores. Merle was done, so done with this bullshit and this was stopping right now.

“It ain't that babies fault that Izzie died.” Merle said.

“Fuck you, Merle, I know that.” Daryl roared, but he knew Merle was right, he avoided Emily sometimes and he knew that wasn’t good. He had to start putting her first and swallowing his pain. It just hurt so bad sometimes.

“Then start being a father to her, because Imma about to put my foot up your ass. Last night isn’t happening again, you think I don’t know you’re going out, getting loaded and sleeping on her grave. Fucking Rick Grimes called me about it four months ago.”

Daryl looked down. He wasn’t ashamed, not in front of his brother, or because of his words. Merle was right. He had been stuck in this rut for long enough and he knew it. But he didn’t know how to pull himself out of it and do the right thing.

The ache in his heart was overwhelming sometimes and he felt like he would never get over it. He didn’t know if he wanted to either.

“She wouldn’t want you doing that and you know it. Izzie is probably so pissed off at you.” Merle slid a brochure across the table at him.

Daryl picked it up and looked at it.

“It’s a grief support group. It’s time you go.” Merle said. “I’ll go with you if you need me to.”

He nodded, Merle was right, he was always right.

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Daryl looked through the window of Emily’s room and then the tears fell. She had needed him and he hadn’t been there, the reality of that was like a punch in the face. A sobering one. He needed to change now before it was too late. He felt like his father now, a neglectful bastard and that wasn’t him.

He loved his daughter, but he missed her mother so badly.

There was a nurse in pink scrubs sitting in the rocking chair feeding Emily a bottle and he could see her lips moving, she was singing.

“I’m so sorry baby girl, It’s going to be different, I promise.” He put his hand up to the glass.

Tara came up behind him and shoulder checked him. That was their way of letting each other know that everything was ok with them. Tara would never lay into him the way Merle had done. She and Andrea tended to cut him a lot of slack these days and he appreciated it.

But the truth was the truth and this was what it was.

“That’s her nurse Carol, she came in at six. Told me to go get myself some food, she said I looked like I hadn’t had a good meal in years. You’ll like her, I told her you were a basket case.”

“Jesus sis, what the fuck…” He looked over at her but he was smiling, and so was she. They were the best of friends and siblings that would do anything for each other.

“Come on we can go in.” Tara said handing him a gown to put on and securing hers. “She has croup, but she’s going to be fine.”

The nurse’s words were the first thing they heard when they opened the door and she didn’t stop singing. Daryl looked at her cuddling his daughter and Emily had her little hands on the collar of her scrubs. His face was a soft mask of joy that she was ok and he vowed to never let this child down again.

“You can take all the tea in China
Put it in a big brown bag for me
Sail right around all the seven oceans
Drop it straight into the deep blue sea
She's as sweet as Tupelo honey
She's an angel of the first degree
She's as sweet as Tupelo honey
Just like honey from the bee”

The nurse sang to Emily and then she looked over and smiled at them. Her blue eyes bright and shiny.

“Oh, Emily, I think Daddy’s here.” She cooed at the baby as she stood up and looked at the disheveled man in front of her. Tara had felt the need to explain to everyone why her brother wasn’t there, Carol got it. She had suffered losses too, and she knew what it did and how hard it was to cope. People did not need judgment, and her ability to be a compassionate nurse to anyone who needed her came directly from that belief.

Everyone deserved good care, no matter who they were or what their issues were.

Sometimes they had babies on the ward that were born addicted to drugs and she was usually the nurse who dealt with the parents. No one else wanted to, they just pushed them away as if they weren’t even human.

Carol could not abide that, people made mistakes sometimes, huge ones, but it didn’t make them bad people and she knew this was the case here.

This boy in front of her, he was a boy to her since she was almost thirty, he was hurting and he didn’t need crap from anyone.