29; Recovery

The light of new opportunities and happiness that had only just begun to glow was extinguished returning the world to utter darkness. What had once seemed lively and exciting was now grim and unwelcoming. The world lacked color and the people in it lacked emotion.

Eleanor Rose glanced at her reflection in the mirror unable to keep eye contact with her stony and sullen eyes. What she saw there was exhaustion and sadness appearing in the creases beside her eyes and the frown lines on her forehead. It was a feeling she felt too often and could never seem to overcome.

"That is a very pretty dress, El. I'm so glad I asked them to check in the back for your size otherwise you would have had to wear that green lace one. I can't believe they even presented it to us. It was hideous. Can you imagine-"

"Natasha," Andrew Paxton silenced his wife and shook his head. His glasses slipped down to the tip of his nose and he pushed them back up with the tip of his pointer finger. His voice lowered into a whisper but El could still hear him from across the room, "I don't think she cares about the dress she's wearing right now."

"But I was just-"

"Why don't you go see if the doctors have called to update us on Paul yet," he advised and with a frown she dropped the cardigan she held in her hands on to the bed and walked out of the room.

El shakily brushed off the nonexistent dust from her dress and only stopped when her fathers hand placed itself on her shoulder. "I know this can't have been an easy week for you- hell an easy nine years, but I'm here for you."

Maybe a few days ago she would have smiled at his heartfelt words but right now she lacked the energy to do the simple gesture.

"You don't have to do this alone, sweetheart."

She exhaled loudly and straightened out the dress once more. It's halter neckline stopped just above her collarbones and the slightly flared out bottom reached her knees. Its color was so deep a black it appeared to be a mix of blue and purple. It was lovely to the eyes of others but to her it looked dull.

When she didn't respond he sighed and his hand fell back to his side. "I only want to help you. I know this hurts but I want to make sure at some point you'll be able to move on and be happy. I've seen what depression can do to a person and I can't just stand by and see it happen to you."

She wanted to scoff and laugh hysterically at his words. El knew he meant well but he had no idea what depression she had suffered in her lifetime. It all started with Eichen House and how he had just allowed her mother to put her in there. She could joke about it and play it off like it hadn't been so terrible, but she contained within her memories of how horrific it really was. And where was he all that time? Not calling or visiting that's for sure. As far as she knew he'd never attempted to take her out and bring her home at all.

"I won't be alone," she spoke dryly. "Other people will be there."

"Just because people are around you doesn't mean they're there for you."

She knew that all too well.

"Isaac will be there. I'll be fine." El tore her eyes away from her reflection once more and went to her dresser. She pointlessly organized the cluttered surface and grabbed the folded piece of paper sitting on top of it all. Her fingers skimmed over its edges before she delicately placed it into her cardigan's pocket.

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