From the restaurant they went across to the convenience store and John picked a small jug of milk, a container of juice, and some bottled water. Some chips for himself and then asked Emily what she wanted and let her pick out some chocolate bars and candies. At the checkout as they were in line he bent down to pick her up but she sort of balked
“I want to show you something” he said, and lifted her up and pointed at the pile of today’s newspapers on the counter, two of the papers had her mugshot from her arrest on the front cover.
“Ok sugar, don’t say anything, we will talk about it later” he said to her as if it was something inconsequential.
After John paid he put it all in the cooler box, and they went back to the car, he led her round to passenger side and put the cooler on the passenger floor and closed the door.
John looked over and saw a Riverwalk running nearby “I don’t know about you, but I could do with stretching my legs after being in car so long, let’s go for a walk along the river”
He distracted her by then adding “And we can talk about the papers” He did not want her to realize she still had the doll in her hand.
He led her along the sidewalk and down to Riverwalk and once they were clear of any eaves droppers he said
“Did you read what it said?, I only saw part of it but they still no idea about me, but obviously you they are actively seeking, its lucky that the papers cropped your mugshot and left out the height chart”
She looked apprehensive and said
“But they must know about my size?”
Holding her hand John replied
“Sure they do, but they don’t know how far it goes, I am sure they have put out a flyer to hospitals, doctors ,etc,to look out for bruchmakers symdrome but as long as we keep you away from hospitals and doctors for as long as possible it won’t be a problem. Also your medication we will have to keep on down low, I can get it off the books”
“So do you understand how important it is you pull this off?, I know it will be hard but if they find you, they find me”
Emily walked along her hand in her daddy’s, the doll in the other and looked up at him, and said
“Yes, I promise I will do my best, it is just so embarrassing”
John answered “Well I will do everything I can to keep you safe, and I am sorry if sometimes you get embarrassed but it’s a small price to pay”
“As I said I think the best thing is to keep on the move for now till you get more used to the role, so to speak, and speaking of which ,I know you are not happy, but its fine at the moment if people see you grumpy and rude, all kids are like that sometimes ,but once we get somewhere and stay there and you are like it all the time it’s going to look odd”
Emily looked even more miserable as John continued
“So when like in Mcdonalds when I publicly told you off ,it was not to be mean or cruel, but to help you, you can say what you like to me in private ,but in public, and to other people you must be polite, pleases and thank yous and however you may feel, look happy”
“I am sure it won’t be the last time I correct you, so it is vital you don’t lose your temper, do you understand?”
Emily pondered as they walked along looking like a father taking his daughter on a walk, she with her doll, and her pigtails bouncing”
Finally she spoke “Yes,I don’t like it, and will hate it, but I do understand”
By this time they had walked about quarter of a mile and turned to walk back.
John noticed she was walking slower as they headed back, and asked her what was wrong
“These shoes are not comfortable for walking in, I would rather wear runners”
John looked down at her “I am sorry I got those quickly and chose for look over practicality obviously, no problem we will get you some, there is a Walmart not far away”
Back at the car he put her back in her seat, securing the straps and emphasizing to her how important it is she stay in it
“The last thing we need is to get stopped because you are loose in the back, and get into trouble”
He started up the car and headed for the signposted Walmart.
“Ok we will go get you some runners, anything else you want? How about some movies, there is a DVD player in the back of my seat, and you will be in the car a lot the next few days”
He had put a mirror on the passenger glove box, this was designed so parents could keep an eye on kids seated directly behind them, without turning around or angling the rear view mirror, and could see her thinking.
“Can I have a laptop and a cellphone?” she said
“Do you think an 8 year-old would have a laptop? And who are you going to call?, once we find somewhere to stay we will get a computer, better for now to stay off grid and cellphones will be good then for emergencies to call each other, but for now we won’t be apart”
She seemed to accept this, albeit it reluctantly
They arrived at the Walmart and before he got out he turned around and looked at Emily
“Ok we will get you some runners, and some movies, but I think we should use this as a practice lesson, you can get any runners you want as long as they are what a 8 year old would want, and any PG or family movies you want .Ok,and try to look happy ,smile ,no grouchy face. Yes that face you have now is the grouchy one”
She actually did smile for real at this characterization
“Yes daddy, I will be a happy smiley girl”
He got out and let her out of her seat, and they headed inside and went to the shoes section Emily seeming to be happier or at least faking it well!
In the aisle of kids runners she started looking at them, an assistant came up to them, and asked if John needed any help
“My daughter wants some new runners, and she is choosing them herself “
The assistant asked Emily if she knew her size and then took some white sparkly Barbie runners from the shelf and said
“These are very popular and very pretty”
Behind the assistant John mouthed silently at Emily “be polite”
“No thank you, I just want some regular runners “
The assistant replied with a chuckle
“Well if you need help just ask, daddies don’t know everything “
Emily thanked her again politely and the assistant moved away.
Emily took some multi coloured runners and said she liked them, John said she should try them on, so Emily sat on the stool and took off her shoes, and slipped her foot into one of the runners, then tried to do the laces, but seemed to be having problems. John did not react but he felt satisfaction that the Lamotrigine was effecting her dexterity.
John leant down and tied it for her
“So do you like those?”
“I am not sure …. Daddy” she answered
John took some other runners from a higher shelf and said “These are almost the same but have Velcro instead of laces”
Emily agreed to try them on, and seemed to have no problem with the Velcro, then walked up and down the aisle.
“So do you want those ones sweetie? They look very nice, and comfortable” John said
“Yes, I like these …thank you”
She had to take them off again so they could be taken to the check out, then they went to the movie department where Emily chose “Ratatouille”, “Monsters VS Aliens” and “Rio” and her daddy insisted on getting “The Princess Bride” as well assuring her it was very funny, and she would like it.
They took the movies and shoes to the checkout and as they were in line, John saw a jewelry set and showed it to Emily who said it was pretty so John tossed it in the basket.
After John had paid for it all they went to walk out the store, But John stopped and asked Emily if she needed the washroom as she may not get a chance for some time otherwise. She said she had better, so John waited outside the washroom opening the jewelry set and the Princess bride movie whilst she went inside.
When she came out he asked if she washed her hands, and was assured she had, he did not check, that would wait. They went out and back to the car. He put her in her seat talking to her all the time, as he put her new shoes on her, and put the necklace and bracelets on her telling her she was looking good. He put some snacks and her candy from the cooler in a pocket of her backpack which was against her seat, within her reach.
Next he took a pink plastic tray that clipped to her seat in front of her telling her that now she had a table to do things on and for snacks.
Then he filled a sippy cup with some juice adding some more of the dexterity inhibiting drug, telling her it was a travel cup that was insulated, and would not spill if it falls over.
Showing her the headphones in seat pocket that plugged into the jack beside her and asking her if there was anything else she may need as he would have to pull over if she did later, he was happy to but would rather not as it was getting late and wanted to get to next destination before dark.
“No thank you……daddy” she said still hesitating over calling him daddy
John then got in the car, and put the movie on and they set off, John very happy as her could see her in the mirror, in her chair now very much like a toddlers high chair as she gripped her bottle with both hands and drank her juice
He drove for some time, both of them laughing at the Princess Bride which he could hear, and telling her he had told her she would like it. When the movie ended he put Rio on for her, telling her to use the headphones as he wanted to listen to radio. He did not tell her he did notwant her getting any information except through him, not even the time, if he could mess her sense of time it would help her regress.
About an hour into the movie he looked and saw she had fallen asleep, he turned off the movie to check she was out fully, a few minutes later he pulled over in a quiet layby. There he turned and looked more closely at his daughter sound asleep her face and hands messy with chocolate, he took a wet wipe from a box ensuring it was warm not cold and wiped her face gently, and her hands, but not her thumb which he put a chunk of melted chocolate from her tray before taking the tray off, then put her thumb to her mouth, she took it easily and it stayed there. He just watched for a while as she sucked it a little, the chocolate flavouring her thumb.
He removed her headphones and took her doggy and tucked it under her other arm and took a few more seconds enjoying the sight before getting out of the car, to go pee and phone the family oriented motel and confirm his reservation for tonight for a room with a bath, but no shower and a kids bed in the room he did not want to chance Emily over hearing.
He got back in noticing that she still held the doggy, and her thumb was in her mouth, but not sucking now.
He checked his watch which was in his pocket, the Car clock was not set, and it just said 12:00 all the time. It was just after 4pm, he thought they could be at the motel by 6pm.
He set off again happy with the progress so far, or should that be regress??