He was fighting the biggest fight against himself, and I was almost certain he was losing.
At least we were on the same page about one thing: I, too, was confused by him. When he walked into a room, I didn’t know where to look. I didn’t know how to act. I didn’t know how to be in the same space as him without feeling some kind of way.
For a moment, I thought about responding, but then I realized I didn’t know what to say to him anymore. I knew the words I would’ve delivered to him in the past, but he wasn’t that same boy anymore, and I wasn’t that same girl.
Now I didn’t know what made him angry or what gave him comfort. I didn’t know what made his struggles harder, I didn’t know what soothed him.
So, the best thing I could do was respect his wishes.
I gave him my silence.
I ignored his emails.
On Monday, I showed up at work to find Greyson standing in Karla’s bedroom doorframe, staring at his sleeping daughter. He looked so deep in thought as his eyes studied her.
It wasn’t the first time I’d witnessed him checking in on his sleeping children. Once I swore he was even counting their heartbeats.
I wondered how long he’d been looking in there that morning. I wondered how often he studied his daughters from afar.
“Hey,” I said, making him look toward me. “I know you have a flight to catch, and I wouldn’t want you to be late. Plus, the roads are pretty bad with the snow.” He was heading to New York for the next few days, and I was having my first stay at his house with the girls.
“Yes, of course.” He broke his stare with me quicker than ever and he looked back to Karla, before turning my way. “Thank you for watching them. Allison and Claire will be around if you need anything, and if there is an emergency, please don’t hesitate to call,” he told me, smoothing out his outfit.
“Of course. Have a safe trip.”
He nodded once and walked past me. When he did, his shoulder slightly brushed mine, and I swore for a split second, time froze.
“Oh, and Eleanor…um…” He cleared his throat and shifted around in his loafers. “About those emails…”
I gave him a small smile and shrugged. “What emails?”
A sigh of relief escaped him as his tensed-up shoulders relaxed. For the first time ever, he looked at me, and I mean really looked. His eyes locked with mine, and I swore I saw straight into his soul. “Thank you, Eleanor,” he said, his words coated in gratitude. He lowered his head and sniffled before giving me a faint smile. “Thank you.”
“Do you think he’ll like this one?!” Lorelai exclaimed. The past week Lorelai had been spending extra time working in her craft room, creating new masterpieces to hang up in her bedroom, but the biggest project at that time was for Greyson. Ever since Greyson’s night terror, Lorelai had been trying to think of a way to make her father feel better. She’d been spending hours and hours creating a collection of drawings of family memories to give to him, and it was hands down the most thoughtful thing I’d ever witnessed.
That Friday, Greyson arrived back from his trip. He didn’t say anything, but came in on his cell phone and went straight to his office, and closed the door.
It was that afternoon that Lorelai finally completed her artwork. We had a bit of time before Claire would be over to pick up the girls for their weekend at her house, and Lorelai was more determined than ever, dead set on finishing the drawings before she headed out.
“Done,” she said, setting down her crayon. She picked up all of her drawings and stared at them with such pride in her eyes.
“They’re perfect,” I said softly, proud of the hard work the young girl had put into her crafts. There were so many memories with her, Karla, and her parents, and it touched my heart deeply. I was happy she still remembered.
After Mom passed, I had struggled to hold on to a lot of my memories.
She leaped up with the biggest grin on her face and hopped up and down. “I’m going to give it to him now!” she exclaimed.
“Wait, no, he’s work—” I started, but she was already dashing out of the craft room toward his office. “Lorelai, wait!”
I hurried after her and witnessed her barging straight into Greyson’s office. The door swung open so quickly it slammed against the wall, making me cringe.
“Daddy! Daddy! Look what I made you!” Lorelai squealed, her voice dripping with excitement as she bounced up and down.
Greyson swiftly turned around to face his daughter, his cell phone held up to his ear, obviously on a phone call. His eyes widened with shock as he covered the receiver with his hand. “Lorelai, not now.”
“But Daddy! I made—”
“Not. Now!” he hissed, sounding more annoyed than ever. He locked his stare with mine and there was such a look of anger there that I took a step back. He looked at me as if silently commanding me to do my job before I no longer had a job to do. He then turned his back to us and returned to his call. “No, my apologies. It’s nothing.”
No, Greyson, it is something.
I moved over to Lorelai and placed comforting hands on her shoulders. “We should come back after he’s done working.”
“But he’s always working.” She sighed, shaking her head. She then bounced up and down, still hopeful. “Daddy, I made you these pictures!” she exclaimed.
Her hopefulness made me sad.
I used to hold out that same kind of hope for my own father.
“Lorelai, I am not kidding! Now is not the time!” Greyson snapped, immediately dissolving his daughter’s joy.
Her shoulders rounded forward, and her eyes watered over. “But, Daddy, the pictures…”
Greyson mumbled and turned his back once more. “Leave it on the desk.”
Lorelai was completely defeated. She no longer danced when she moved, and her smile had faded. With slow steps, she moved toward her father’s desk and lay down the art project she’d been working on with so much care. Then she turned and walked out of the room, completely heartbroken and scarred.
There was seriously no way I could bite my tongue in that moment.
I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t let that slide. Lorelai was the sweetest girl alive, and the fact that her father had just treated her in such a disgusting way made my blood boil.
Therefore, it was best if Greyson quickly hung up that phone, because I wasn’t going to leave until I’d given him every piece of my mind.
“Are you kidding me?” I hissed, still standing firmly in his office. He looked my way, his stare completely baffled.
He glanced once more before going back to his phone call. “I will have to call you back in a bit, Mr. Waken. Yes, I know, and I do truly apologize. There is a disruption I must handle immediately.”
“Yes, Greyson,” I stated, my arms crossed. “Handle this.”
And just like that, we hit episode six of the Greyson and Eleanor show: “The Fallout.”
He hung up the phone and narrowed his eyes as he turned to me. “What in the world do you think you are doing?”
“What am I doing? No, what are you doing?”
“Working, unlike some people around here. How dare you let Lorelai barge into my office? Do you know how important that phone call was?” he barked.
“Do you know how important that artwork was?” I barked right back, not backing down. I was done backing down. Greyson was lost and stuck and hurting and pained, but in all that he was allowing himself to hurt the ones who meant the most to him. He was hurting his girls.
He huffed. “Eleanor, please leave my office.”
He cocked an eyebrow. “What?”
“I said no. I’m not leaving, because you have to hear me.” I swallowed hard, nervous but intent on getting my point across. “I get that it’s hard for you.”
“I said I get it. I get that some days are tougher than others, but the way you just treated Lorelai is unacceptable.”
“I beg your pardon?” he hissed, his voice dripping with indignance. His chest rose and fell quickly as his fingers clenched together.
“The way you just blew off your daughter is unacceptable. She worked on those drawings all week long and couldn’t wait to show you.”
“Her timing was wrong.”
“And when was she supposed to approach you? Lately the timing seems to always be wrong with you. You’re never home, and if you are you lock yourself in this office like some caveman. You don’t engage with your daughters unless they are sleeping, to which I don’t even understand the point. During the day you don’t even look at them, Greyson. You don’t even see your daughters.”
He shut his eyes for a second, almost as if he knew the truths behind my words, but he fought against them, not wanting to face reality. “She knows the rules about not barging into my office.”
“She’s five, Greyson! Screw your rules.”
He turned his back on me, again. That was his favorite move, turning his back on things. “If you can get back to your job, I’d like to get back to mine.”
“She worked so hard on that artwork, and you just tossed it aside. You owe her an apology.”
“You need to leave,” he scolded, taking a few steps toward me.
“No,” I bellowed, standing tall, as I stepped toward him. Chest puffed out. Head held high. I hoped he didn’t see the small tremble in my body. It was no secret that he made me nervous. He was so cold and hard that I never knew how close he was to snapping, and that was scary. Still, I wouldn’t back down, because Lorelai needed me. She needed someone to stand up for her, seeing how she couldn’t do it for herself. So, I planted my feet hard on the floor and stood my ground. “Your daughter is crying in the other room because you didn’t even take the time to notice her artwork.”
“Is that all, Eleanor? Because if you are finished I need to get back to work.”