“We did it! We did it! What was your favorite part about today?” she asks, her blank stare piercing through the screen .

“I liked when… you beat Swiper. It was so cool,” Karen giggles, a few snorts noticeably escaping.

“Oh, I liked that part too!”

“Yeah, it was really funny! Swiper was so surprised-”

“Well, we couldn’t have done it without you. Thanks for helping!” her mouth stretches wide into a smile, petite hands waving goodbye before she disappears into a black screen.

Karen frantically clicks at the remote, unknowingly mumbling as if it would make the next episode start quicker. 

Dora appears yet again, bringing with her a strange but familiar sense of comfort. The theme music begins to echo around the room and in Karen’s head, as she boisterously sings along to the playful tune.

“¡Hola! Soy Dora!”

“Hi Dora!” practically bouncing on the couch, Karen eagerly waits for the new adventure to begin, as she always has.

“Today, we’ll be-”

Dora suddenly freezes, locked in place as the remote is pried from Karen’s iron grip by her dad, who presses pause and turns to look at Karen.

For a moment, he stares with tired eyes at the morose little girl in front of him—My little girl, he has to remind himself—who’s so close, and yet so far away.

He clears his throat.

“Hey there, Kare-Bear. It’s getting late, don’t you think? I think you should take a break—how about that?” 

Karen averts her gaze and glares at the floor in bold silence as an iron wall builds itself between father and daughter.

“Sweetie?”

The wall grows taller.

“You’ve been—doing this for a while now. Mommy and I are worried about you.”

No response.

“Alright well—go to bed soon, okay?” her dad smiles sadly, placing the remote back beside Karen, who snatches it back at once, before disappearing up the stairs.

Early morning inches closer, the clock ticking at exactly 1:00AM as Karen presses ‘Play.’ The episode starts again, and in the darkness her smile is dimly lit by the radiating, pulsing glow of the TV. Eyes wide and following every move, encaptured, Karen wants nothing else but to stay forever in this world.

“We had a super fun time for Best Friends Day, didn’t we? What was your favorite part of the trip?”

“It was so awesome when you saved Boots! I think that was my favorite part,” Karen beams childishly.

“But… we couldn’t have saved him without you, Karen!”

There’s a short silence, before Dora speaks again.

“Anyways, we were just about to go celebrate. There will be food, and fun games—Boots, Backpack, and everyone will be there. Would you like to—come along?” 

“Wow, that would be so much fun,” Karen giggles again, but as Dora starts walking away, she hesitates to follow.

“What’s wrong? Aren’t you going to—come along, Karen?” Dora turns around, and tilts her head to the side.

“Oh! Yes, of course.”

Everything begins to fade into black, just as the sunrise shines through a small gap in the curtains. All is quiet, all is peaceful, celebration is near.

Dora smiles.

“We’re going to have so much fun!”

vamanos!

BY sophia liu