“So he just asked you out? Just like that?”
School had started back with a nasty vengeance. As I stood in the hallways that reverberated with the sound of one hundred simultaneous conversations and the high pitched squeak of people’s sneakers, I wished that I could be back in Miami. It was rainy and snowy in Seattle- in Miami the weather was beautiful even in winter and everyone was so chilled. Nothing like back here.
“Yeah!” Lizzie exclaimed in excitement. We were currently gushing over the fact that one of her choir people, Zach had asked her out over Christmas. Apparently he’d been thinking about it for a while and had just grown the balls to do it. Personally I didn’t like him. It was a wonder that his head even fit through the doors these days, and he was just weird. You know when you just know when someone’s not worth trusting? Like that.
But hey, Lizzie had had a crush on this guy for years so I wasn’t gonna burst her bubble. “That’s great!”
Just as I finished up with my locker and started locking it again the topic of our gossiping came strutting towards us. He smiled at Lizzie and kissed her when he reached us. Okay, so was it completely crazy for me to think that it might just be a quick kiss because we were in the middle of the hallway? Apparently so. It wasn’t until I actually had to clear my throat to get their attention that they stopped. Neither of them looked in the least bit embarrassed, and when the bell went off I was glad to make my way to class.
“I love him so much…” Lizzie sighed as we took our seats next to Clara, who was busy writing away in her notebook. That was a thing about Clara- she had a different notebook for, like, every single day of the year and every one of them was full to the brim.
“You’ve only been dating him for a week.” I reminded her. Clara decided that now was a good time to become aware of the world around her and popped her head up, her brows furrowed.
“Been dating who for a week?” She asked.
“Zach Evans.” Lizzie giggled, glancing to the back of the class where he was sitting and giving him a soppy, slavish look that I dearly hoped she would never do again. While she wasn’t looking I gave Clara an ‘I know, right?’ look behind her back- Lizzie was acting completely different.
“Anyway, you’re coming to my house after school.” I told Clara who promptly started freaking out. She’d never met Callie and Arizona before, and because it was one of the rare days when they both had the day off, they’d told me to invite her over for dinner.
The rest of the class was super boring and long. How the hell did Callie manage to speak fluently in two languages? I was only completely fluent in sarcasm, and apparently that doesn’t count. Just like being able to balance a grape on your nose doesn’t count as a talent. Ugh, life was hard.
“Your house is nice.” Clara complimented as we walked in. The place was actually pretty tidy, but the smell of smoke coming from the kitchen was alarming. We both quickly headed through to find he kitchen engulfed in smoke, and I could just decipher a cursing Arizona in the middle of it, waving a dish towel around and trying to reach the smoke alarm on the roof without any success.
I burst out laughing and reached into the cupboard for the broom, which I then used to poke the little button on the smoke alarm. I turned round and smirked at a very flustered Arizona, who was looking into the oven with a bummed look on her face. “Who let you cook again?”
“Ha-ha. You’re funny.” She deadpanned. “Callie got paged into an emergency, and she should be back soon, but I tried to make lasagne, and it was going well until…” She trailed off, casting a reproachful glance at the charred contents of the bowl, which did not look like lasagne.
“Okay, well…” I tried to keep in my laughter. “This is Clara. Clara, this is Arizona.” I introduced them, and Arizona’s head snapped round to where Clara stood, obviously just realising that she was there.
“It’s nice to meet you, Mrs Robbins.” Clara smiled, and I laughed at the memory of this conversation. We’d debated for a while over whether to call her Miss Robbins or Mrs Robbins or Mrs Torres and after a while we decided on Mrs Robbins. I don’t even know why I went with it, because just as I’d expected, Arizona waved her hand and smiled.
“Nonsense, call me Arizona. It’s nice to finally meet the person Poppy never shuts up about.” She smiled. I could feel my face turning red.
“Mom!” I exclaimed.
“And just so you know, I don’t always smoke out the house when I cook. That was a onetime thing. I’m actually a decent cook.”
I rolled my eyes and smirked at them. “Yes, charcoal is her speciality. Come on Clara, we have homework.” I said and then grabbed Clara’s hand and dragged her out of the room before she could point out that we didn’t have any.
“Well she’s nice.” Clara commented as we both collapsed on my bed.
“Yeah. Arizona’s the one most likely to tell embarrassing stories, while Callie will probably interrogate you, then spend the rest of the night winding me up for fun.” I told her. Last night when I’d though over what was going to happen today I’d made a list of worst scenarios, who would say what an what topics I should avoid.
“I’m sure they’re perfectly fine.” She laughed, playing with our linked hands.
“We have a pretty crazy life here. We were actually discussing someone’s intestines over dinner the other night as if it were perfectly normal.”
“Where’s your sister? Sofia, right?” She asked, and just then I realised that she hadn’t been there. I scanned by brain for a conversation where someone had told me where she was but I came up blank. I quickly crossed the room to the door and opened it.
“Arizona?!” I yelled.
“What?!” I heard her call back after a few seconds.
I frowned at that. Gymnastics? “Gymnastics?”
“Yeah, that’s a thing now. She started today!”
I shook my head as I closed my door again, making my way back over to where Clara was sitting. “I never even knew.”
She nodded and stayed quiet for a minute. That was something about Clara- she thought a lot; the complete opposite of Grace. Grace was upbeat and hyper, and always had something to share, whereas Clara was quitter, still talkative but quiet, and a lot calmer. “So what d’you think about this Zach Evans guy?”
“He’s a complete asshole. But if you ask Lizzie he’s completely amazing and handsome and loving.” I laughed. “I’m trying to like him.”
“Lizzie was acting so different.” She commented, standing up and beginning to pace. Another thing about her is that she never seemed to sit still for longer than five minutes, except in class.
“She’s gone all sappy on us.” I agreed. Just then I heard someone knock on the front door and heard Arizona answered it. Whoever it was must be a friend because they only spent a few minutes talking before the person entered the house. “Let’s go investigate.” I said to Clara, who nodded and followed me.
“April’s here!” Arizona announced to me as we re-entered the kitchen, which thankfully was now smoke free. April was sitting at the table, and her red eyes and slumped shoulders alarmed me. I looked up at Arizona who gave her a sympathetic look.
“I had a fight with Jackson.” She said simply, then gestured o the bag next to the door. “You’ll have to put up with me for a few days.”
A quick introduction was done before Clara and I headed to the living room, not bothering to turn on the TV as we started to discuss anything and everything.
“So tell me more about you family. Your mom and dad divorced, and now he’s married again and you have two siblings?”
“Yeah. They split when I was real young, like two. My dad used to be… angry, and he hit her.” She revealed and I frowned. “My mom tells me everything, she hates lying, which she would have to do if I ever asked how they split, because that was why.”
I placed a hand on her arm. “I’m sorry. Did you ever worry that it might be the same with his other wife and your siblings?”
She nodded vigorously. “All the time. But my dad’s…he’s changed. A lot.” She explained, and I understood. Sometimes people change. She seemed to have told enough because she changed the subject. “So do you call you moms ‘mom’, or just Callie and Arizona? Because you called Arizona mom, then you called her Arizona.”
I thought for a second. “Yea, I did. I guess I just kinda switch between them. If I do, I call Arizona mom and Callie Madre.”
“And when’s Callie gonna be home?”
“I dunno.” I admitted, glancing at the clock. “Arizona said soon, but soon for Arizona could be from now until midnight. Hospital hours are crazy.”
Talk of the devil, and he shall appear. Or she, in this case. Something like that. Not two minutes after we’d finished talking about her, Callie came waltzing in, well not so much waltzing as walking normally. I smiled at Clara before getting up off of the couch and heading through to see her.
“Madre, Clara. Clara, Callie.” I introduced them as I’d done with Arizona, and it wasn’t long before they were having a conversation about something I wasn’t paying attention to. Being the good girlfriend that I was, I ditched Clara with Callie who was probably interrogating her and went through to the kitchen to see if Arizona needed help.
An hour later, we were all sitting round the table, Sofia having arrived home with gymnastics with plenty of stories and Callie having managed to save dinner. What was supposed to be lasagne was now chicken Marsala, and it was amazing.
“See what I mean?” I muttered to Clara as they discussed Callie’s work on a man’s femur, not caring in the slightest that it was pretty disgusting when eating.
“It’s so cool though.” She smiled. And with that comment I could tell that she was going to fit in well around here.