Cabin Fears – Chapter 59: The Afterthought

Tuesday morning

 

Regan knocks on the door, glancing around. He had been over here too many times to count through the years – almost too much it seemed. However, he was willing to do whatever it took.

He watches the door open, immediately smiling as he sees Marie standing there. She backs up, easily letting him inside as she was expecting him.

“Dale is out back with Tony,” she states simply as he nods his head.

He makes his way through the house, giving Robby and Elsa a quick wave along the way. He takes a deep breath as he opens the door, walking out onto the porch as he catches the boy’s attention.

“How are you?” Dale questions as Regan takes his seat with the group.

“I’m alright,” he answers. “The bigger question is how you are.” Dale knew the answer to the question was simple.

“I’m fine; that’s not why we’re here, Regan.” Regan shook his head, knowing exactly why Dale had called them. “So as I told you both on the phone, he had a bit of an episode yesterday. He snapped at Alyssa, and then I had a good discussion with him. A lot of mixture of thoughts from anger to frustration to blame to….well, the usual that he always get with Randy. But it was heightened more than I’ve ever seen it. That’s when I suggested he go to see Eric and he did, and Eric gave him a mild anxiety drug till he figures it out.”

“Glad that he finally listened to that advice,” Tony comments, remembering his discussions with Chase. “I told him that he should seek out help if he needs it. I mean, I know the feeling…”

“So do I,” Dale says, remembering the time he looked towards help after his experience with Marie’s family. “From what I get, this isn’t the first time he’s almost snapped, is it?” Regan shakes his head no, remembering their discussion at Bristol. “I don’t want to get overly crazy but we all agreed that we’d watch out for both him and Alyssa because we care. I think Alyssa is handling it slowly and right, as I know she’s taking steps in talking to people and getting her feelings out there.”

“She talked with me twice about things, actually,” Regan announces, remembering their discussions clearly. He remembered her concerns expressed about Chase.

“But what about Chase, guys? Should we be more concerned than we are? I mean, we’re trying to give him space and let him handle as he may because yes, he is taking steps slowly. But what if this is worse than that?” Regan thought back through the years, remembering his late night confessions with Chase and seeing all the signs of breakdown with him. He found himself comparing them to now.

“I think the emotions are worse, but I think we’re still handling it accordingly. He is slowly taking steps and he’s accepting advice when it is given to him. He’s doing more than he did before. If we keep seeing that, I’m going to lay off and let him do this the way that he wants. However, if we start backtracking with nothing done, you can hit the panic button and I’ll be there with you.”

“I haven’t been around him in other times like you both have,” Tony starts. “So I don’t know what he gets like. However, hearing the words that he wants to give up at times and he’s right at his edge, that’s concerning. If you’re going to get better, you have to believe in yourself without a shadow of doubt and focus on the steps to improving. If you have any doubt, where’s the effort coming from?” Dale and Regan both shook their heads, understanding what Tony was saying.

“I think that was the anxiety talking though,” Regan comments. “That’s why I feel what Dale did in making him go see Eric for a mild-anxiety drug will help keep that at bay as he works through the rest. Once he comes at peace with what happened, he typically stops panicing and worrying. So I think we let him get through it, and then see where he stands with regards to the other.”

“And what If our wait and see approach doesn’t pan out?” Dale didn’t want to think about that. He knew the previous two runaway activities by Chase had gone totally wrong.

“Let’s just not picture that, plea-” Dale pleads.

“It’s a possibility, and something you should consider if you’re going to do what you’re doing,” Tony cuts him off. “I know you hate the thought, but come on Dale…” Dale lets out a sigh as he looks out to the field.

“It’s not going to come to that, Tony,” Regan says as Tony looks over at him. “I’ve helped him through everything in the past. I know how he is. It won’t come to that. We just have to make sure he keeps making progress, slowly, whatever that may be. Keep making sure that he’s talking to people, working through his thoughts. If that happens, we’ll be fine.”

“100%?” Regan shakes his head yes, believing his words fully. He always knew to give Chase more credit than perhaps others would because he had seen what he’d been through.

“Alright, fine. But just promise me that you’ll keep watch and make sure it doesn’t go further.”

“100%,” Regan and Dale say together without a shadow of doubt.

While the boys were talking on the back porch, Alyssa had made her way over and met with Marie in the living room.

She remembered her own words last night of not wanting to make conversation. She remembered her own thoughts of avoiding what was going on. However, in the same thought, she was pushing Chase to talk about what was going on with him. So it was only fair that she actually did something instead of doing nothing.

“So what do you want to talk about?” Marie questions as Alyssa takes a deep breath.

“I’m having my nightmares again,” she confesses as Marie lets out a sigh. She hated the thought of her daughter suffering from anything.

“Well, that’s understandable with what you went through.” Alyssa looks down, remembering everything clearly. She could think through the trail of events without panicing now, thanks to careful conversation with some people.

“I’ve talked through that. I’ve handled that. I can look back at that and not worry a single bit. I talked to Regan, Ella, and a couple others. I’ve come to grips with what happened. I get that I couldn’t had done anything different and it is what it is. There’s no doubt there.” Marie was proud of the progress her daughter had made, knowing how much that meant to her. However, she was still concerned.

“But the nightmares….” Alyssa looks over at her mom, taking a deep breath.

“There’s nights that I close my eyes, and I see an assortment of scary images. Some of them are trying to kill me, or I’m watching someone I love be killed. There’s pain other nights. There’s also repeats of a plane crashing, or images of what happened like a movie.” Marie lets out a sigh as she reaches over, rubbing her daughter’s back.

“The last time you had these, it helped to talk through each nightmare that you were having. Have you done that, yet?” Alyssa shakes her head no. “Do you want to do that this afternoon?” While she loved her mom, she was never good at breaking everything like that down with her.

“I’d prefer to not do that with you, actually. It’s just…..I can’t explain it….I can’t tal-”

“It doesn’t come easily because you’re more comfortable with your father or Chase?” Alyssa shakes her head yes. “That’s fine, sweetheart. You have nothing to worry and I’m not offended. I understand being closer to someone else more. So, have you talked to Chase at all?”

“I admitted to them, but didn’t push the topic any further. With everything that’s going on for him right now, I didn’t want to make those thoughts worse.” Marie shakes her head, understanding.

“That’s fine, sweetheart. Just remember that you need to take care of yourself. So before sooner than later, you need to have that necessary discussion. Whether it’s with Chase, or if you feel that’s not ready then with your father or someone else. You need to work through this as it’s not healthy and we know that you need your sleep. You got a busy schedule coming up….” Alyssa knew that was for certain with plans to race for the championship and win it.

“I know. That’s why I’m trying to figure out the best thing to do….” Marie gives her daughter a pat on the back.

“You’ll figure it out – you always do. Keep believing in yourself; everything will be fine.”

Moving Forward – Chapter 47: The Surprise

Marie grabs her bag, smiling as she walks through the airport, clasping Elsa in her arms with Alyssa in toe.

While it was nice to head home and she took pride in her work, there was nothing like returning home to where she lived now and reuniting with Dale. Besides, she still had some wedding plans to finalize.

“Daddy!!” Alyssa then lets out, running off from Marie as she goes to protest, though immediately smiles as she sees Dale standing there, leaning against the car. “I missed you!”

“I missed you too,” Dale replies as he holds her tightly in his arms, kneeling down to her level. “Did you have fun?” She shakes her head yes.

“I got to play in the garden, played with Lia and Nazelle, baked cookies and a big painting!” He then stands up, smiling as he takes Elsa from her hands.

“You didn’t have to meet me here,” Marie tells him as Dale kisses Elsa’s forehead. “I would’ve just got a ride back to the house.” He then looks over at her.

“I’ve been driving myself crazy missing you, and couldn’t bare to wait a minute longer,” he confesses with a smile. “Besides, I wanted to see my girls….” He then tickles Elsa’s belly, causing her to laugh as he just laughs in response.

“I just figured that you’d be busy today.” He then looks back over at her.

“I always have time for us, you more specifically.” He then leans in and kisses her lips. “And I’ve missed those…” She could only lick her own lips in agreement.

“Chase!!” Alyssa then lets out as she sees Chase heading over to them, running up to him for a hug.

“Chase?!?” Marie questions, glancing between Chase and Dale.

“Hey Alyssa,” Chase says as he gives her a big hug, before taking Elsa out of Dale’s arms. Dale gives him a simple nod, before pulling Marie close to him.

“Considering how much I’ve missed you, I figured we could use some time together,” he tells her, slipping his hand around her, firmly planted on her butt. “Besides, you’ve been busy with your responsibilities and planning the wedding that you need a break. Chase is going to watch the girls, while we have a night to ourselves.”

“We get to spend the night with you?!?” Alyssa questions and Chase shakes his head yes. “That’s awesome!” Chase could only look over at the pair of adults, seeing their eyes locked together. He could only bet how many minutes till they were wrapped in each other’s arms, reunited. There may be a third kid running around before long.

“That sounds like a good idea,” Marie gives in.

“Well, you both better get started on your fun,” Chase states. Everybody trades goodbyes, with Chase grabbing the girls’ stuff and heading off with them.

“My lady…” Dale says as he holds open the door, with a smile.

“My darling,” she replies, giving him a quick kiss before climbing in the car. He then closes the door, walking around to the other side, set for a fun night.

Leaving the airport, the pair were caught in heavy traffic, resulting in steady conversation about her latest trip to Pitronia and the happenings. It also saw them focus their eyes on each other at times, both biting their lips as thoughts fluttered through their minds.

“So what’s the plan for tonight, superstar?” Marie questions as she reaches over, placing her hand on his leg.

“I was thinking we’d go out for dinner, and then head back and spend a quiet night together,” he answers as he looks over into her eyes. “Unless you want to do something else….”

“That sounds like such a good idea. It’s just….” She lets her hand run up his leg to his crotch, placing lightly. “I’ve missed you so much…” He bit his lip, resisting the urge to let out a moan feeling her hand pressing against his package.

“We could skip dinner and head for desert?” She slips her hand underneath the rim of his jeans, forcing her hand down beneath the fabric of his underwear.

“I wouldn’t want to ruin your precious plans or spoil your appetite…” He bites his lip even harder, feeling her rub his package, wishing the traffic would move faster than it was.

“I think you’d be satisfying it more than…..oh man….” She then smiles, stroking him lightly as she locks eyes with his.

“Problem?” He then looks over at her and shakes his head no, leaning in for a kiss before focusing his eyes back on the road. “I can’t tell you how much I missed you…”

“This drive is way too long.” She then laughs as he takes a turn up at the next street, heading down the long alleyway. She releases him from her grasp, placing her hand on his on the shifter, eyes looking at each other briefly and locking, before his eyes returned to the road before them.

“Where are we going?” He just smiles as he takes another turn, pulling it behind the race shop, before reutnring the glance.

“I couldn’t wait. I figured here, behind the shop, we’d have some privacy.” He then flips the key off, turning to face her, leaning in and kissing her lips, as he pulls her close to him.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 58: “Alyssa’s Home!”

Monday evening

 

Alyssa walks into the house, slipping off her shoes as he glances into the living room.

An immediate smile formed on her face as she saw her father bonding with Robby, joking about the latest game that they were playing. She walks in quietly, glancing at the screen as she had to laugh at Robby beating him.

She knew that her dad was still there as he had texted her shortly after Chase got home. He sent her a quick update, which had put her heart at ease after the morning events and text from her dad then.

“Alyssa’s home!” Robby lets out, noticing his sister as Dale pauses the game, looking over at his daughter.

“How long have you been standing there?” He questions as she shrugs her shoulders. “How was your day?”

“Oh, so we’re going to be like the perfect home greeter with the questions?” She teases as he just shrugs his shoulders. “Actually, it was pretty good. We had a lot of positives to take from the weekend, and meetings went smoothly for once.”

“Did you smack Kevin for running you out of gas?” Robby questions, causing a shocked expression from both Dale and Alyssa. “That’s what Mommy said to do.”

“As much as it sucked, those things sometimes happen and Kevin mostly gets it right so we’ll let this one slide,” Alyssa reasons as she glances around the house. “Where’s Chase?” Robby points to the stairs.

“He was supposed to go upstairs and have a nap because he was so tired from the past couple nights,” Dale starts as Alyssa shakes her head, understanding. She couldn’t complain based on everything. “I went upstairs about an hour after he went up and he wasn’t in the bedsroom. Instead, he’s actually in the spare bedsroom curled up with your dog.” Alyssa then looks on surprised.

“Really?” Dale shakes his head yes.

“I grabbed a blanket and threw it over him. Hey, sometimes a dog can offer that comfort you need.” Alyssa shakes her head, understanding, but still caught off-guard.

“It’s just he’s not much of a cuddler…..”

“Maybe he knew Chase needed a cuddle.” Alyssa couldn’t reason it herself, but it didn’t bother her. “Anyways, I will go because he said that he didn’t want me sticking around after you got home. Text me if either of you need anything.” Dale then walks over, wrapping an arm around her. “I love you, and everything will be okay.”

“I know. I love you, Dad, and thank you.” She then gives Robby a hug, roughing up hair a little before watching the pair head out.

After closing the front door, she heads to the kitchen, glancing in the fridge with a smile. She had an idea for that night.

*********************

Chase comes down the stairs, stopping as he reaches the bottom, smiling at the smell. He then makes his way into the kitchen, the smile remaining as he saw Alyssa checking on the pasta.

“That smells so good,” he comments, causing her to look over.

“Well, well someone is up,” she replies with a smile of her own. She then walks over, wrapping her arm around him, and giving him a kiss before returning back to the stove. “Sleep well?”

“I did, actually.” He then sits at the counter. “Hey, if I scared you this morning, I’m sorry…” She then turns around to face him.

“It caught me right off-guard, Chase, but I understand. It’s okay. You don’t need to worry. I’m just glad that you talked it out with my dad, and went to see Eric. As long as you’re taking baby steps, that’s what matters.” Chase had to smile at the comment, having heard the same from Dale just earlier that day. “So, how’d you end up with my dog?”

“I had to go to the bathroom so I went and then as I walking back, I noticed that he had pulled out one of the rabbit stuffed animals he isn’t allowed again. So I snagged it back, put it up. I then laid down to pet him for a bit because I felt bad for taking it off of him, and I guess I fell asleep.” She then smiles, as it was a suitable explanation.

“I’m surprised he cuddled because that’s not like him, but I guess he figured you needed it.”

“You know you’re spoiling me by making this…” She then smiles as she places a plate of chicken parmesan in front of him, handing over the cheese next.

“I figured you could have your favorite to make you feel better.” She then gets her plate for herself, sitting down beside him.

“Thank you so much. I mean, I hate you pushing yourself with everyth-”

“Just because I only got one hand that I can use doesn’t mean that you need to play that damn sympathy card with me, Elliott. I can handle it.” He freezes upon her reaction, taking a deep breath of his own. He knew it was a touchy subject with her and tried to avoid normally.

The pair sit together eating dinner, lightly discussing the happenings of his day, followed by what happened at the shop for her.  Once they were both done, Chase takes the plates, placing them in the sink and washing them off. He then lets out a yawn as he places the plates in the dishwasher.

“Still tired?” Alyssa questions as she shows up behind him, wrapping an arm around him.

“A little, actually,” he answers as he turns around to face her.

“Well why don’t we forget about everything else for tonight, go upstairs, put on a movie and lay together watching it? That way you can catch up on some sleep.” He then runs his fingers through his hair.

“It’s only like 8, and you probably have something else you want to do, and it’s way earl-”

“You’re tired, and you need to get some rest. You can’t be walking around half asleep. Besides, it wouldn’t hurt for me to get some extra sleep either.” She then takes a pause, careful deep breath, as her eyes focus on his. “I know when you’ve been not sleeping at night because I’ve been waking up a couple times with nightmares.”

“Again?” She shakes her head yes. “Alyssa, I….”

“You don’t need to start on explanation or whatever. We all know why. Look, just like you’re figuring this out, I’ll figure that out with due time. I’m getting sleep when I can and handling things when I can – take the conversation with Regan on the way home. Don’t worry – I’ll be fine.”  He lets out a sigh, knowing that he couldn’t just do that. She had been there for him all morning.

“You tell me not to worry, but yet you spend all this time worrying about me and cooking me dinner. Remember – it goes both ways.” She knew that, as she lets out a sigh.

“Look, I don’t want to discuss it right now, okay? I’d rather just focus on getting some rest and then discuss it when I can. And don’t worry, I won’t put it off or do something stupid, okay?” He shakes his head yes.

The pair then let their fingers lace together, heading up the stairs with the dog closely following behind.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 57: “We’re going to see Chase…”

Dale smiled as he watched the car pull up to the house. He then glanced at Robby, before looking back out the window. He knew he couldn’t just stay where he was without checking up on him, but also couldn’t leave Robby by himself.

“Robby, grab your stuff,” he states as Robby looks up. He had grown used to it with his parents’ busy schedule. The instruction was always simple – but he knew they were going somewhere. He packs everything up in his backpack, slinging it over his shoulder as he walks over to his dad.

“Where are we going?” He asks as Dale puts his running shoes.

“We’re going to see Chase.” A smile immediately forms on the young boy’s face.

“Can I play a game or two with him? Wait – I need to show him the new car I created.” Dale smile as he was glad that each of his kids had formed a solid friendship with Chase. But he also knew that right now was quite the right time.

“Actually, Chase and I need to have an adult conversation, and I can’t leave you home alone so you’re coming.”  Robby then looks up at his dad, puzzled.

“I’m eight years old. Why can’t I be home alone?” Dale lets out a sigh as he leads his son out of the house.

“Because I don’t quite trust you yet.” Robby then looks back at his dad even more puzzled. “Ask your sisters. They weren’t allowed to be home alone till they were 12, and fortunately for you, the same remains.” Robby then climbed in the UTV, watching his dad climb in the other seat and they head across the property.

“Why do adults have adult conversations?” Dale could only roll his eyes. He should be used to lots of questions from the kids now.

“Because adults need to talk about things that little ears can’t hear.” Robby rolls his eyes, wishing he was older already.

“Does Alyssa know what you guys are talking about?” Dale shakes his head yes. “Could I ask her?” Dale then stops instantly, looking over at Robby.

“Under no circumstances are you to ask Alyssa about what I and Chase are talking about, nor are you to pressure Chase about it.” Robby then looks on puzzled as Dale looks back forward, taking a deep breath. Perhaps that was a little too blunt. “You know that someone kidnapped both Alyssa and Chase, right?” Robby shakes his head yes.

“That’s why you warned me once again about not trusting strangers and the signs.” Dale shakes his head, remembering the discussion. He had sat both Elsa and Robby down shortly after Alyssa went missing out of his own fear.

“When something big like that happens, it takes a lot out of someone emotionally. It brings thoughts of fear, pain, anger, confusion. When you hear me or your mom worrying about your sister, that is what we’re talking about. It’s going to take her time, and Chase too for them to come to grips with everything that happened emotionally and be ready to move forward like nothing happened. It’s a touchy subject for them both, so hence why I’d just prefer that you don’t say anything, okay?” Robby shakes his head yes, accepting. “That’s my little man.”

Dale then continues the short drive over, parking out front of the house. The pair then walk up to the door together, with Dale knocking. Dale felt himself fidgeting, nervous as to Chase’s reaction, waiting for him to open the door.

He couldn’t wonder anymore as he watched the door open before him, causing him to look back up.

“Were you watching?” Chase questions, figuring in his mind that someone would be there when he got home.

“Yeah – because I was worried about you,” Dale answers. “And I wanted to see how you made out.” Chase glances down at Robby, giving him a small smile, before looking back up at Dale.

“I made out pretty good, actually.” Dale easily accepts, seeing the glance towards Robby in wanting to keep conversation at a minimum with him present. “Everybody out right now?”

“Alyssa is still at JRM, Elsa went out with Jenna and Alexis, and Marie is…well, as you know, out of the country on errands. So that leaves just me and Robby. I told him I had to come over for ‘adult conversation’ but couldn’t leave him alone.” Chase shakes his head, accepting. He knew that Dale and Marie weren’t the strictest parents, but they kept concerns about their kids at a certain level.

“Well why don’t you both come in, and Robby, you can head into the front room and play a game or two. I got a new dirt racing game that Kyle Larson said is awesome, and so far – I have to agree.” The eyes light up on the little boy.

“Can I try it?” Chase shakes his head yes as Robby hurries in the house and to the living room.

“Thanks…” Dale comments as he follows Chase through the house to the kitchen. “I wasn’t sure what to do with him but knew I had to come see you….” Chase glances back at Dale.

“Hey, he’s a good kid,” Chase starts. “Not a single problem.” Chase then opens the fridge, grabbing them each a drink as Dale notices the pill bottle sitting on the counter.

“Niravam?” Chase shakes his head yes as he looks over.

“How’d you know?” Dale sits down on the stool by the counter.

“That’s what I got. It’s a good, mild anxiety drug. It should work.” Chase shakes his head, accepting, as he leans back against the counter. “So, you said back there things went well….”

“You know why I said that there.” Dale shakes his head, understanding. “I did what you said. I explained things as best as I could and he agreed with what we’re saying. He also gave me some suggestions and ways to work through it. He then said I could come back anytime and discuss with him if I felt like it and the time was right.” It was progress, and that’s all Dale wanted to hear. It was better than where they stood that morning.

“That’s good. Did you guys talk about the details at all?” Chase looks down at the ground, shaking his head no.

“I couldn’t bring myself to do it….” Dale heard the regret in Chase’s voice, knowing how much he did push himself at times.

“Hey, that’s alright. You made progress, right? He at least knows where you are, and you’ve got those to start. It’s a start. One step at a time. That’s all you need to do.” Chase knew that Dale was right in those words.

“Look, as much as I don’t mind talking with you, I really need to get some sleep. I’m dead on my feet tired today after not sleeping the past couple of nights and with everythin-”

“Hey, that’s perfectly understandable.” Dale then stands up, pushing the stool in. “I can come by later and we can talk then, or whatev-”

“Actually, would you mind sticking around even if I go upstairs and sleep? I just don’t want to be by myself totally.” Dale shook his head, accepting with ease. He knew the feeling, and remembered the times that he hated being apart from Marie and alone himself.

“Absolutely. I’ll give that new game a try with Robby.” Chase chuckles as he glances in the room at Robby.

“Yeah, good luck with it. He seems to be mastered it already.” Chase then heads for the stairs, though stops and looks back at Dale. “Thank you, and feel free to go home when Alyssa gets here. I’ll be fine with it.” Dale shakes his head, easily accepting.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 56: Call for Help

It didn’t take long after receiving the text message for Dale to show up at the house, immediately facing Chase. Dale could see the tears in the young man’s eyes before him, combined with the emotions on his face. He could only wonder as to why the sudden urgency to come over.

“What’s going on?” Dale questions, breaking the silence as he enters the house, with Chase closing the door behind him.

“I snapped again….” Chase lets out quietly, causing Dale to spin around instantly. Since he had spotted Alyssa’s car leave the house not long ago, his stomach flip-flopped especially with the emotions on Chase’s face.

“Please tell me that you haven’t called my ass over here because she ran away….” Chase immediately shakes his head no.

“She caught it right away and she remembered what I told her – it’s not meant to be directed at her, but rather a matter of circumstance due to my own twisted feelings. She actually helped calm me back off my edge with some words of advice, and we talked it out. She then offered to stay but I told her to go to JRM and do her usual things.” An involuntary sigh of relief escaped Dale, glad that the pair had found a common ground. If Chase had said something otherwise, there was no telling what would’ve happened next.

“So you called me because you wanted to let me know or…..”

“I needed someone to talk to immediately before I completely flip and go insane.” Dale then looks on completely surprised, considering previous recent discussions had sounded like Chase was making slow, but steady progress and getting further off the edges of what happened.

“Why do you say that?” Chase hated to be repeating this once again – it felt like a movie replaying in his head of the previous three times. He had been through this before. Why couldn’t he get a grip on it and just move forward?

“I’m having so many thoughts right now, mix of everything, thanks to Randy and what happened. From confusion, to pain, to being purely upset, to anger – it’s just a mess of thoughts that I can’t seem to find any way to control. Psychological war fare is what I called it when I told Alyssa. It’s been there small since what happened, but it just seems to have grown and I’ve been handling it….but I can’t do this, Dale.” Dale  felt his stomach drop in the last couple of words, feeling lost as to what to say. He almost pulled his phone out after hearing those to dial Regan’s number, seeing as Regan had been the one Chase turned to the most. However, he fought back, taking a couple calming breaths of his own at the revelation. Admitting that it was tough was the first step, and admitting that he needed help for step two. Now it was just working through it, and they’d done it before.

“Have you done anything to help these feelings at all?” Chase rolled his eyes, remembering the suggestions from Regan and Tony.

“I’ve talked a little with Regan and Tony on that note, but it doesn’t seem to be relieving what I’m going through. They both suggested talking to Eric, as well.” Dale shook his head, figuring that was probably the second direction that he’d take should a text to Regan result in nothing. He had even thought about suggesting it himself, though held back for a second in remembering the reaction previously. Regan normally had better luck with that.

“I know it’s frustrating and I know you’re feeling like you’re in a mess – but remember, first step is to admit it and second step is to figure out the best way to get help. You’re working at both of those, and that’s great. I know it may not mean much to you right now, but it’s a start.” Dale then takes a deep breath, glancing down at the ground as he thought things through. “Everything you’re describing reminds me of something. Do you remember when I had that real bad concussion and I was out of the car for months?”

“How could I forget that? It scared the crap out of everybody wondering if you’d get better….” Dale shakes his head, remembering everybody’s reactions surrounding him.

“It sort of reminds me of what you’re saying right now in being confused, unsure of direction, stuck in what you’re going throu-”

“It’s not the same thing, Dale. You had a concussion. Mine is a psychological insanity iss-”

“They’re both mind field games, Chase.” Dale then looks up at him. “Listen, I know you’re probably going to hate the thought, but maybe Tony and Regan are right. Maybe you should go see Eric and go see him immediately. I had a lot of anxiety and crap going on. Till I could handle it, Mickey gave me a mild-anxiety drug that just calmed my system down. It allowed me to remain calm while I healed from the other side effects. Eric could give you the same thing, and then that way it could make figuring out the rest of this mess a little easier.” Chase thought it over, having remembered the same suggestion from Alyssa. Maybe she had more knowledge than he was crediting her for.

“Maybe you’re right….” Dale had to admit that he was surprised, not expecting that reaction right away from Chase. “I mean, I can’t describe this to anybody and make them get what I’m feeling. I’m anxious, panicing, angry, fear, confused, trembling, unable to sleep…..there’s just so much that I don’t know how to put it into words.” Dale kept his eyes on Chase, having known the feeling all too well.

“Deep breaths, count to 10 and relax. You may call this a damn psychological insanity issue as it may feel you’re going insane. But really, it’s a panic attack causing a heightened anxiety and increasing everything that’s still there barely…” He then reaches out to Chase, grabbing both his hands. “Look at me. Deep breathes. Count to 10…” Chase closes his eyes, taking a couple deep breathes. “That’s it….”

“How do I describe this to Eric, though?” Dale lets go of Chase’s hands as he sits back, trying to figure out the best wording. With Mickey, he just knew what to do for Dale.

“Tell him you’re having a mix of thoughts. Tell him that you feel you’re on the edge of control. Tell him that your friends saw it as a panic attack. Tell him about what happened at Bristol. Ask him for permission for something to take the edge off. If you find the task daunting by yourself, ask for someone to come with. I’ll come with you, if need be.” Chase thought it over. It felt daunting to come out and straight out admit that he needed that help, but he knew that he wanted to erase this feeling as quick as he could.

“Thank you….than-”

“I told you that you never need to thank me, Chase. I’m always here for you – always.”

“I know….” Chase then wipes the next layer of stray tears from his eyes. “I just….” Dale then immediately makes his way over, wrapping both arms around him.

“Let it go, Chase. Please just let it go…” Chase then lets himself open up, leaning against Dale as the tears continue to fall.

After spending time like that, the pair separated with Chase making a phone call to Eric to set-up an appointment. The psychiatrist easily set-up something for later that afternoon, which Chase was set to attend no problem at all.

“Are you sure you can do this by yourself?” Dale questions as Chase is getting ready.

“Yeah, I’m good,” he answers before heading out.

Dale watches him leave, pulling out his phone.

He sends a quick text message to both Regan and Tony, letting them know a couple details on the latest crack from Chase. The three of them had been keeping in close contact with each other, keeping updates flowing, all wanting to do whatever they could to help Chase. They figured if all three were keeping a close eye, they could help him tackle things with ease.

He then sends a text message to Alyssa, giving her a quick update and reminding her that they could always talk if need be.

Leaning back against the door, he just hoped that everything would cool off soon.

Moving Forward – Chapter 46: “Can you help me?”

Chase walks into the house, surprised at the silence that had overcome the busy household.

He glances into the living room, surprised to see everything neat and tidy, with no kids to be found. He then walks down the hall and glances into the kitchen, seeing the dishes put away with nobody in sight.

“That’s odd,” he comments to himself. He had expected someone to be home with the door being unlocked.

He keeps making his way through the house, stopping when he reached Dale’s office and glanced in, smiling. He hadn’t barged into an empty household after all.

He was about to say something and interrupt Dale’s happenings, but didn’t want to be rude. So instead, he leaned back against the door and watched as Dale continued doing whatever business he was. He saw a couple papers scattered across the desk as Dale looked over those, along with a book turned to a specific page. He could only guess the contents, not wanting to invade personal privacy.

“Son of a bitch!” Dale lets out as a pen rolls off the desk. He then leans down, picking it up, before looking up and noticing Chase in the doorway. “How long have you been standing there?” Chase then puts his phone down, shrugging his shoulders.

“10, 20 minutes perhaps,” he answers as Dale rolls his eyes.

“And you didn’t say anything why?” Chase walks into the office, surprised by the amount of scattered papers across the desk.

“I didn’t want to interrupt you.” Dale could only smile back in return – the politeness Chase showed was one of his most awesome traits. “So where the heck is your family?”

“Marie took the kids with her on this trip back down.” Chase shakes his head, understanding, as he flops in the chair before the desk.

“And having the whole house to yourself, you called me?” Dale knew it was an odd request to ask Chase to come over, but he knew the kid was around and not up to much right now with the season just finishing. That’d mean that he’d be a great candidate to help.

“I need your help on something, actually.” Chase then looked on confused as he sat up in the chair. “Marie is doing all this amazing stuff to put together the wedding – both here and the official reveal ceremony. She’s basically taking charge of it all, and told me to not worry about a thing. She wanted me to just focus on myself, the recovery, and the upcoming test at Darling-”

“Can you blame her?” Dale lets out a sigh and shakes his head no, knowing Marie’s thoughts on everything.

“I’ve gotten back into the business stuff – which is crazy as Josh Berry is without a sponsor for the late model season.” Chase’s jaw drops in shock, knowing how successful Josh had been the past couple seasons. “Plus, I’ve been doing a bit of Christmas shopping and studying the favorite manual for the reveal.”

“So that’s what the book is?” Dale shakes his head yes as he turns the book to face Chase.

“It’s not that bad, actually. Remember a couple formation details and you’re good to go.” Chase glances over the page, intrigued by the contents.

“So what is it that you need my help with?” Dale smiles as he sits back in the chair.

“I want to surprise Marie when she gets back, and I know that your ass will still be in North Carolina as you won’t have left for Georgia yet.” Chase then looks at Dale, in surprise, not wanting to fully picture the contents of the plan.

“And I can help you, how?” The smile widens on Dale’s face.

“Can you babysit children?” The answer to that question was obvious without a thought as Chase loved spending time with both Alyssa and Elsa.

“Of course.” Dale was glad that he got the answer he easily wanted or else there’d be some trouble.

“I also need your help setting some stuff up – like getting things, and putting them in order for her return. Are you game?” Chase didn’t know whether he wanted to agree, scared of what may happen from here on out.

“I suppose….”

“Thanks. I appreciate it.”  Dale then glances back towards the papers, knowing that he should get back to work, though his eyes glanced back up at the young man before him. “And everything is okay with you, right? We’re not going to have to go to Canada or some other country looking for your ass this year, are we?”

“Don’t worry – I plan on staying home all winter this year.” Dale smiled in return as he didn’t need to go through those fears again. “Besides, that trip was a little too cold.” Dale could only shiver at the thought of being stuck in an ice cold water hole.

“Yeah….”

“And to the other part of your question, I’m good.  There may be the odd nightmare here or there, but I’m fine. I’m back to myself and you don’t have to worry about me. Just worry about yourself and doing what you need to do.” Dale shakes his head, accepting.

“My contract is up with Hendrick Motorsports this year, and I’ve debated whether to resign or not. I told Rick that it’d take me some time to decide.” Chase then feels a bit of confusion in the change of topic. “With everything that happened on and off track, plus the fact that I’ve been doing this a long time now, you have to wonder if it’s time…”

“Have you talked to Jeff or Tony to see their thoughts? What about Marie? What about your sister?”  Dale looks up at Chase, shaking his head no immediately.

“I don’t want you to say a word to Marie or my sister about this, or else they’ll keep at me about it.” Chase sits back, understanding immediately. He knew both girls could be overbearing. “I’m just been giving it a bit of thought, especially in discussions as to whether I have it or not.”

“You’re one of the best racecar drivers that I know, and I’m glad to call you a teammate and best friend.  Go into the test at Darlington with an open-mind and see how that goes. See where you stand first before you cave to nerves and worries. I know you and I know you’re worried about that test but I think it’s going to go better than you can even anticipate.” Dale smiles, surprised by the immediate vote of confidence from Chase.

“I hope you’re righ-”

“I know I’m right, Dale, because I believe in you – just like I always have believed you. Look at everything. You always beat the odds and you will beat them again.”  Chase then takes a deep breath, trying to keep his personal thoughts on Dale’s future out of conversation, for now. “Once you get the test out of the way and see how that goes, then re-evaluate the situation. Maybe ask Rick if you can have a couple weeks before you decide what to do as he’ll understand. Just know that whatever you do decide – do it for yourself, because you truly want to, and not because of what everybody else wants or feels, and damn well make sure you’re certain with your decision.”

“Thanks Chase. I’ll keep that in mind.” Chase then stands up, knowing that he had an appointment for later on that day himself.

“I’m always willing to talk – remember that goes both ways, always. Text me later with all the details of what you need help with on the other. I got to head out.”

“Alright. See ya later.” Chase then makes his way out of the office, going back through the house and out the front door.

Once he had closed the door, he leaned back against it and thought things over. He didn’t know if he was ready for Dale to speak the word retirement himself, yet.

 

I haven’t decided whether I am going to keep this story going beyond the Darlington and wedding into this year, and the forth coming retirement. It is a thought, but one I’m not sure if I want to tackle.

Cabin Fears – Chapter 53: Race Time

Marie and Dale stood on pit road together, waiting patiently for race time to be there as everybody was just set to get the day started.

“You feel almost tense, nervous,” Dale comments as he rubs Marie’s shoulders.

“Maybe because I am,” she replies as she leans back against him. Dale just continues to rub her shoulders.

“You know that she’ll be fine and can handle this. She proved that last week at Bristol.” Marie lets out a sigh, knowing that was true as she was proud of her daughter for that weekend. However, that didn’t change her feelings.

“I’m her mother. It’s my job to worry and wonder. There’s always the chance of something going wrong, whether her fault or not, and that just increases with what’s going on.” Dale understood where Marie was coming from, recalling his initial fears. Though everything had changed in the matter of a couple test laps and 250 additional circuits around Bristol.

“I know, but just try to relax and have fun. It’ll make it easier.” Marie smiles, knowing that Dale was right – no matter how hard that was actually.

“Do you worry when I race, too?” Robby questions, having got his start racing quarter midgets.

“Of course babes,” Marie answers. “I worry about all of you kids.” Robby then pats her leg.

“Well mom, you don’t got to worry about me. I’m going to be a champion and win every race.” He then hurries off to talk with one of the crew members as Marie glances back at Dale.

“And why did he have to inherit the need for speed, too?” Dale chuckles as he wasn’t sure.

“Because it’s in our blood,” he starts with a glance towards Elsa. “Look at it this way. Elsa can be your favourite as she’s the perfect little princess. I say she’s going to be a great dancer, or whatever she chooses to do.”

“Clothes stylist with some dancing on the side, Dad,” Elsa states as Dale looks back at Marie.

“See what I’m saying?” Marie just rolls her eyes, though points a smile towards Elsa.

“Don’t tell your siblings, but you’re the favorite. You don’t worry your mother.” Elsa just smiles widely as Alyssa walks up to them.

“I heard that,” Alyssa comments, shaking her head. “Luckily, it doesn’t matter because dad’s my favorite.” She then gives her dad a quick kiss before walking over to where Chase was standing.

“Did you hear that?” Marie questions as she glances over at the pair and Dale smiles, shaking his head yes.

“You had that comment after your comment, though,” Dale answers. He had to admit watching the pair together that he was full of disbelief on a couple different levels. It was crazy to see his first born all grown up, and in love with Chase. He never could’ve imagined those two getting together when she was born, but it was perfection regardless.

“She’s going to get mad at you for staring….” Dale then looks at Marie.

“She probably hasn’t even noticed with how engrossed she is in their conversation and the love for him.” Marie smiles as she now found her eyes locked on the pair, too.

“I hate to bring this up now, but do you think they’re moving past what happened?” Dale lets out a sigh as he keeps his arms wrapped firmly around Marie. He knew the events had bugged her more than anything.

“They’re working at it, if that means anything. I know she and Regan went up to the treehouse to have a discussion together, and I know Chase has been talking with some different people. It’s going to take time, but they’re making progress. You don’t have to worry and guard them…” It was Marie’s turn to let out a sigh as she looked back at Dale.

“I know, but I’m her mother, and you know that goes…” Dale chuckles and shakes his head yes.

Everybody hangs out together before the race, followed by standing together in formation for the national anthem. Once it was over, Dale and Marie gave Alyssa a hug each, followed by the siblings, before walking away.

“Remember what I talked to you about, and do your thing,” Graham tells her as he gives her a hug. “You’re going to do amazing.” She just smiles.

“Thanks Graham, and thank you for coming,” she replies before watching him walk away. Her eyes then focused on Chase, as she pulls him into a hug. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” Chase replies as he holds her. “Be safe. Do your best. Focus on the goal at hand.” He then gives her a kiss before letting go.

He takes a couple steps back, allowing her to go through the process of buckling in and getting set with help from Adam. He watches her finger reach for the switch, allowing the car to roar to life before reaching in for a quick pound and heading to the pit box.

“Surprised to see you here,” he hears a pit reporter say, glancing their way.

“I’m here to support Alyssa – that’s all,” he replies. “And before you ask, I don’t know when I’m coming back. It could be in the next couple weeks, it could be a month.” He then steps over the wall, grabbing his headset off the pit box before climbing the steps.

With his eyes focused on his girl, he was ready to rid of the outside distractions and everybody’s questions about himself. For now, he wanted to use the time away to get quality time with Alyssa.

*************

Throughout the event, she ran within the top-five and kept herself in solid contention during the race. The team played the right strategy which worked with the timing of the cautions, and it seemed they’d be set to contend late in the race.

As the laps neared the end, she put herself in the third spot, and was posting lap times quicker than the leaders. However, a caution flew with two to go, setting up an overtime finish.

“Son of a bitch!” Kevin Meendering let out on top of the pit box. “Save fuel, save fuel, save fuel. Do whatever you can to save fuel. I don’t know if there’s enough.”

“You don’t know?!?” Dale, Graham and Chase all said together as they looked towards the crew chief. Kevin then glanced at the engineer, nodding his head for a calculations update.

“We had enough gas to go to the end. Beyond that, I wasn’t sure. It all depends on cautions.” He keeps his eyes focused on the engineer, picking up the piece of paper after calculations are complete. “And yeah, we may just be screwed…” He puts on his headset. “Alright princess, here’s the deal. We’re about a half a lap short if we go green this time. Depending on what you saved, you may have enough. However, you also may run out. It’s up to you whether to pit as they go green.”

“We have nothing to lose, and everything to gain,” Alyssa starts. “Let’s gamble.” Kevin then starts chewing his nails as he watches the field double up for the restart.

She got a strong restart, taking the lead as the field went into turn two. As the nerves continued to build on the pit box, they watched her go through the next set of turns with ease. She made it through the moraine sweep, followed by the hurry downs and the carousel. While there was a small mistake entering the kink, she maintained the gap and kept the lead down through kettle bottom and into Canada corner. As she came out of the corner, the car sputtered a little. The nail biting increased as she kept going, but another sputter happened, followed by silence around her.

“We’re out,” she comments as she rolls to a stop entering the 14th and final corner on the track. “We’re done.” A mix of disappointment and swear words erupted from the pit box in response.

“I’m sorry princess,” Kevin Meendering starts immediately. “I should’ve pitted a lap later that last run to buy you some more fuel. You did an absolutely amazing job out there and deserved the win.” She didn’t know whether she wanted to curse herself or cry as she sat there in the corner, waiting for a push.

“10-4. That’s racing. It’s part of the game. Shit happens. We’ll move forward to Darlington and hope for better. Thanks for the amazing car this weekend, and the great support from everybody around. Least we know that I can turn both right and left now.”