To say that Deb wasn’t herself was an understatement: she wasn’t anyone, really. At least not on the outside. Her degree of shock remained deep. She did now occasionally move her eyes around as though taking in the surroundings, otherwise remaining unresponsive, both in terms of being mute and in terms of facial expression. She continued to cling to Nate; gently, for dear life. The only sound out of her was an occasional squeak when skin contact was momentarily, unavoidably broken. She went with him everywhere, including to the bathroom, and insisted that he go with her when she had to go to the bathroom… for the times when she made the effort to actually go there. Unfortunately for Nate, sometimes she fell so deep into whatever shock or trance she was in that she wet or soiled herself. All in all, she seemed to have reverted to early infancy.

“She can’t come to the phone…. This is her boyfriend, Nate. She accidentally ran over her father last night and killed him, and she’s in shock…. No, this isn’t a prank to take a free day, asswipe! Call the fucking police department and ask about case number 167542389!…. Sorry… If it would help, I can come in and work phones or whatever, but in all seriousness, Deb can’t. She’s not eating, drinking, and between you and me, she’s not able to get herself to the bathroom. So if you wanna deal with that, sure, I’ll load her into the car and bring her right over. Oh, and she freaks out whenever she isn’t touching my arm, so you’ll need to set up another chair for me as well…. Yes, I promise she or I will be in touch as soon as we know more, and hopefully she’s heading back to work…. Bye.”

He looked at her, stroked her arm, then turned to stare at the wall, sighing deeply. He didn’t know what to do for her, other than to stay with her and do what he could to maintain a semblance of normalcy.

Next he called into his work, where they trusted him and were much more understanding.

Another full day came and went, with no change. Nate wasn’t sure he could hold out much longer without some support for himself, if not her. As luck would have it, his parents were on vacation in Hawaii, with their favorite swing partner couple. His attempt to call various random psychotherapists he found listed online did produce a change: she kept reaching over and disconnecting the call before it could complete, a look of fear if not terror in her eyes.

He pulled her into a cuddle and stroked her hair. “What are we going to do with you, my special one?” he asked with a weak smile, looking into her eyes.

She smiled back, and out of nowhere and in an amazingly child-like voice, uttered her first word in days: “Daddy!” and kissed him.

He wasn’t sure how to play this, though he figured he’d better do something before she dropped back into muteness. “You want me to be your new daddy?”

She nodded excitedly.

“Are there any job qualifications for being your new daddy?”

“Stay with me forever” she replied in the same child-like voice, throwing her arms around his neck and kissing his cheek. It was somewhat disconcerting to witness a fully adult woman talking and acting like a child, yet at the same time there was now a beauty and genuineness lacking in her usual jaded adult voice and mannerisms—something he’d very rarely seen since he broke through her emotional defenses several years prior.

“OK. Anything else? Besides what Real Daddy said about us always being good to each other?”

“I’m yours, you’re mine. Mine, Mine, Mine!”

“Alright, so we’re staying monogamous, like we’ve been?”

She nodded, smiling.

“And we’re remaining a couple and I’m your new Daddy?”

She nodded again, then said “I love you, new Daddy!” and kissed him again on the cheek, still in a way disturbingly little girl-like yet more genuine than he’d known from anyone.

“I love you too, Deb.”

She giggled a little girl giggle as she unzipped and unbuttoned his pants.

“Don’t you wanna have some food first, sweetie? You haven’t had anything but water for over a day.”

“After. Right now, I want Daddy Juice!

Given the trauma of the past couple of days plus not truly understanding what was going on with her, he didn’t dare intercede. Not to mention which, he’d never before seen the expression of a lusty woman mashed up with the glee of a little girl at play.

She pulled down his pants and underwear enough to get full access to the goods. He was a little stiff but not stiff enough, so she pulled off her shirt and bra and smothered his wand in her boobage, rubbing herself back and forth over him with her hands.

He couldn’t remember seeing her nipples so hard before. The relief of her return to the speaking world allowed him to relax for the first time in days, after which nature quickly took its course.

She licked and sucked it all up, gleefully. “MMmmm! Daddy Juice is the best!

He still had trouble watching someone take his yucky fluid into their mouth, though clearly this was no issue whatsoever for Deb, and in fact appeared to be a necessary element of her innate sense of pleasure. Certainly the process and sensation of being squeezed between her large boobs continued to work great for him, so perhaps he’d get used to it all.

She cuddled and nuzzled him for a few minutes. He savored the high magnitude of genuine, pure, non-sarcastic affection emanating from her—the most and purest he’d experienced since he broke through her emotional armor—and did his best to reciprocate.

“Time for some food, little miss.”

“I’m not little!” she objected, in her child voice. “I’m a big girl!” She swiveled her upper body to make clear exactly what sort of “big” she meant.

“Yes you are… Daddy’s big, beautiful woman.”

She started to weep.

“Whadid I say wrong, sweetie?”

“It’s too hard being grown up! I failed!” she replied in something closer to her adult voice, for the first time since the collision. The crying increased as she reverted to child voice and said, “I’m just a silly girl who likes play time and toys and pretend and loves Daddy! Daddy’s big, beautiful girl!

{Well, at least she’s still talking, and there’s hints of an adult in there somewhere.} He held her awhile longer. “New Daddy’s hungry, and I think you should have some food too. Let’s go have a food adventure in the kitchen!”

Over the course of the next several days, Nate did his best to help his child-woman cope. She insisted they go play in the park one day. She giggled as she slid down the slide, angled so one butt cheek was on the flat, so she’d fit. The swing seat didn’t at all encompass fitting her seat, but the joy of swinging totally overwhelmed the discomfort of the chain cutting into her sides. They walked along the shoreline of the man-made lake and threw in cracked corn for the ducks, to her delight.

Another time, she practically demanded a trip to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal. It in no way filled her up nutritionally, yet did seem to satiate an emotional type of gaping hunger.

They went to a thrift store, where she purchased a couple of toys she used to have which her mother threw away decades ago, and one or two she’d always wanted but never had. Another day, they went to a gift store, where they each picked out a Beanie Baby to play with.

On still another trip to a drug store, she became entranced with the big display of colorful play balls. “Daddy, will you buy me a ball?”

It was quite obvious from her pleading expression that he needed to make the inexpensive purchase, even though she had plenty of money and hadn’t had any discernible difficulty “womaning up” to buy things at the other stores on those other trips. “Yes, I will. Which one would you like?”

“The pink one!”

“This one?” It was actually large pink swirls with smaller orange and purple swirls on a faint, light sky blue background.


He pulled it out and handed it to her. She bounced it once, found it wholly suitable, then clutched it tightly—her new best friend.

They went back to the park and played with it for awhile, before going home. She washed it clean, dried it off, and took it to bed with her, clutching it with one arm and Nate with her other.

Nate didn’t want to bring it up, but rather had to. “D’you think you’ll be ready to go back to work on Monday, sweetie?”

Deb buried her head in his side.

“Daddy has to go back to work so he doesn’t get fired. And so we have money for rent and food… and play.”

It didn’t seem to be working.

”Dontcha wanna help Daddy by earning your own money?”

Thoughts of her former life at work flooded back into her consciousness, nearly making her nauseous.

“Please? I need your help, D. I’m not sure I can get a second job, and if I did, we wouldn’t have much time together.”

She grabbed him a little tighter, and looked up at him, seeing a look of pleading not unlike her own at the drug store. “Daddy drives and I need some new clothes.”

He thought about the logistics for a moment. “OK, I can drive you”. He’d expected that part: she hadn’t been anywhere near the driver’s seat since the collision. He’d been driving them everywhere. “Local clothes?”

“Yes. Hopefully.”

“Let’s go.”

It took visiting several stores of a well-known discount clothing chain, but it was worth it: she had two new full work outfits.

Monday morning he wasn’t at all sure that she’d be able to pull herself together and actually go to work, given the river of tears and tight hugging of the night before. She surprised him and possibly even herself by rising to the challenge and attempting to re-enter the adult world. There wasn’t much conversation, but what there was was transacted in an adult manner with an adult voice… but not the same adult voice as before. This one wasn’t dripping in saturated sarcasm.

The only sign so far that morning of the girl-child was a frightened look in her eyes as Juggernaut pulled to a stop in her work’s parking lot.

“You’ll do fine. You’ve always said that it’s an easy job which takes hardly any brain power. So go show ’em how easy it is! I’ll be back here by 5:30, wherever I can find a space.”

The send-off kiss seemed to help, but not enough. Her little girl voice came back with urgency, “Grope my boob, Daddy, before you leave, pleeeeese.”

She broke into a grin as he gave her left breast a firm, solid grope through her top, then she slid/wobbled out of Juggernaut and, as an adult, swayed her way into the building.

Heads turned as a confident yet non-snarky new Deb strolled down the hall to her call station. No one could remember ever seeing her properly dressed for work before. The navy blue pinstriped skirt and matching blazer gave her a look of pure business without being overly corporate.

It didn’t stop with the looks. Her supervisor overheard the start of her first call, and was blown away by her genuine professionalism. He hurried back to his desk to monitor the rest of the call. She followed the guidelines perfectly and achieved satisfactory resolution in under the target time of 1 minute 30 seconds—rare for her.

It wasn’t just that one call. All day long, she exemplified everything she hadn’t been before: courteous, professional, efficient, respectful. And: willing and able to own the issue and drive it to resolution herself when necessary to achieve customer satisfaction with one call, versus her former habit of kicking everyone upstairs when anything the least bit difficult cropped up.

He wasn’t sure which person was about to climb into the front passenger side of her own car: the adult woman brimming with the day’s gripes, or the shattered child. Turns out it was neither: it was a new adult Deb, very happy to see him and with little to say about her work day, other than recounting a few details regarding some of the people she’d helped. It was so refreshingly positive, he didn’t miss the cleverness of the snark at all.

They celebrated their first day back at work with a bucket of fried chicken and lots of cuddling. At home, she was still his young-acting girl, but out and about she held it together as an adult… at least for this day.

Deb continued to manage, barely, as an adult in the outer world, other than the day of her father’s funeral, arranged by his mother. She was again a river of tears, trembling much of the time and never letting go of Nate, even for a moment. She’d even slid across the front seat and out the driver’s side door with him, to maintain uninterrupted physical contact.

Neither her mother nor her mother’s parents showed up, which in terms of Deb, may have been for the best. Not all that many people showed up in total, other than a few of Bert’s former colleagues, and some close friends he’d made out on the streets. Deb wanted to speak with many of them, but couldn’t break out of her little girl mode. She clung to Nate as he met a few of them, seeking contact information for a hopefully later time when she was again functional.