“Mom said we’re going to the summer festival today,” Martha said during breakfast they were eating at her house because the two girls had a sleepover, “you can come with us, she said.”
“Ok,” Dakota mumbled. She was jealous. Martha’s parents always took her places and did fun stuff with her.
“Do you want to play dolls? We’re not going till after lunch.”
They spent the morning watching cartoons and playing with Martha’s amazing doll house.
“Time to go girls,” Martha’s mom Leah said from the living room.
They were rollerblading, playing on the swing set and even entered a pie eating contest.
“And we have a winner,” the judge announced, “Martha Duran!”
Martha proudly stepped on the winner steps and took her price.
“Congratulation, sweetheart,” her mom said, “let’s all go wash up in the rest room and then we’ll take Dakota home.”
“I’m not going home yet, mom said she will pick me up later.”
“Oh, ok, honey.”
But she was lying. Her mom didn’t say that. She just didn’t want to go home yet.
She played with the ball that someone left near the soccer net for couple more hours until it got really dark outside. She didn’t know how to get home so she called Sarah. She didn’t want to call her parents. She didn’t want to bother them.
Her mother was already waiting outside of the house when Sarah dropped her off.
“Where have you been, Dakota. I was worried sick. Do you know what time it is?”
Hailey was disciplining her daughter but deep down she knew it was her fault.
Why didn’t she call me to pick her up? she was wondering.
“I thought you wouldn’t notice.” Dakota was on the verge of crying.
“What do you mean? How could I not notice?” Hailey’s voice softened.
“I thought you are working or something so I didn’t want to bother you.”
“Oh, honey,” Hailey kneeled down to her daughters height,” you could never bother me. I love you. Go to bed now, it’s late.”
How could I fail so badly as a parent? My own daughter doesn’t trust me….
She changed into her pajamas and went to check on her daughter again. Things will have to change around here. Hailey slowly opened the door of Dakota’s bedroom and was relieved to see her sound asleep.
While she was walking through the hallway, she stopped to look at the photos on the wall. Where did the time go? she thought sadly.
She dedicated her life to politics and put her family on a second place. She always accused Cameron of being a workaholic but she now realized that she was one too. It was her daughter that suffered the most because of it and it might be too late to fix it.
Dakota and Martha had another sleepover at Martha’s house.
“Good morning,” Dakota said to Leah after she grabbed some yogurt from the fridge.
“Morning, Dakota,” Martha’s mom replied, “you’re up early.”
“Yea, I have to go home. My parents want to see me before they leave.”
Cameron and Hailey were going away for a few days and wanted to make sure their daughter knows how to behave while they’re gone.
“I see,” Leah nodded.
“Can Martha sleep over at my house tonight?”
“When your parents are away? I don’t know,” Leah hesitated, “that’s probably not a good idea.”
Dakota knew Martha’s parents would let her but it was worth a shot. That was part of the reason their sleepovers were always at their house. They wanted to keep an eye on their daughter and make sure she’s not doing anything inappropriate.
As annoying as it was, Dakota wished her parents cared as much as Martha’s do. They were trying to make up for the time they were ignoring her as a child but work was always more important for them. She knew it.
“For Christ sake, Dakota, where were you,” Hailey said all stressed out, “we’re going to miss our flight because of you.”
“Whatever. You didn’t have to wait for me,” Dakota scoffed.
“Yes we did. Sarah and Lucas are going to check on you so I don’t want you to have any people in the house, except for Martha and absolutely no parties. Do you understand?”
Hailey gave her a kiss on a forehead and hopped into their taxi that was already waiting for them.
Dakota was waving while she pulled her phone out of her pocket and sent a group message: They’re gone. See you all at 6ish.