Chapter five- Arizona’s POV
The tension in the room could be cut with scissors as I waited for what seemed like hours, but was in fact only a few seconds for Poppy to reply. It was hard to tell what was going through her head but I felt a little relief when the corner of her moth lifted into a smile. She leaned forward to hug me.
“I think… I think that would be a great idea.” She agreed drawing back again. “And I just want to thank you so much. You’ve taken me in, accepted who I am, and I already think of you all as family- and it’s only been a month! I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done if you didn’t buy me that coffee. And taking me in and now adopting me like this is a big deal.”
I was tearing up slightly as I took her hand. “It’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I may have only been a month, but these things aren’t things that happen over time. They’re instant. And as for us accepting who you are? Hello, we’re married and have a kid together!”
“There’re not a lot of people who accept us.” She admitted. “At school. You should see the looks we get.” She laughed.
“I feel ya on that one. The stares never go away. But it’s not your problem.” I agreed with her.
We sat there for a few minutes, just enjoying each other’s company and soaking in the events of the last fifteen minutes.
“Do you think your parents will let us?” I asked her, voicing what I’d really been worrying about. Although I had been concerned that she’d freak out at first I’d had no doubt that she would love the idea. Her parents, on the other hand, might be a different story. It’s not as if it was as easy as going up to them and saying ‘Hi! We’re going to adopt your daughter, if you could just hand over parental rights please…’
“I bet they’ll put up some sort of fight.” She sighed. “I don’t know why. They told me I wasn’t the daughter they raised and loved unless I changed, but I can’t. Even if they won they wouldn’t accept me, or look at me the same way ever again. And plus, I’m sixteen in March which means legally, I can choose where I stay and who I stay with.”
I nodded. “Yeah. I wish it didn’t have to be so hard on you, though.”
“Hey, don’t worry about it. If they can’t accept their daughter then that’s not our problem.” I could agree with that. “How did your mom and dad react when you told them?”
“I was considering not telling them. I was kinda worried out of my mind.” I remembered. “If it hadn’t been for my brother, Tim’s reaction, then I probably would have never told anyone. When I told him, he smiled real big, and then asked if that meant I was going to marry a chick. When I said yes, he told me he was gonna dance so hard at my wedding.” I was now telling her one of my best memories I had with him. He’d always been so accepting of who I was. It was crazy sometimes how much I missed him but I always knew he was watching over me, as cheesy as it sounds. “My mom and dad weren’t shocked. I never dated guys, or spoke about guys. Jeez, I had a poster of Cindy Crawford on my wall and I wasn’t just lookin’ at her mole. My mom and dad weren’t surprised when I brought someone home named Joanne.” I told her honestly. She smiled and she was obviously thinking over what I just said.
“So, uh, how did your brother die?” She asked shyly. “You don’t have to answer that. It’s just one of those things you mentioned that I never actually knew about and I find myself wondering and… You know what? Never mind.”
I laughed at her nervous babble. “It’s okay. I’m an army brat. I grew up always moving from state to state, school to school, because my dad was a colonel in the United States Marine Corps. Timothy was my best friend, and normally my only one because every time we made friend we had to say goodbye, so we grew super close. Eventually, he left home to join the Marine Corps too. One day, a roadside bomb went off. Every one of them survived except Tim, because he was trapped under the cart.” I was getting teary so I used the sleeve of my jumper to dry my eyes. “It was just before I moved to Seattle, it’s crazy to think. I just got the phone call one day and…” I trailed off, deciding to leave it there before I got too emotional. Thinking of my brother brought back many memories.
“I’m so sorry.” She said, hugging me again. “He sounds like he was a great guy.”
“Oh, he was. There was never a dull moment when he was around, that’s for sure.” I laughed. I noticed the time, and seeing it was nearly five already I decided to make dinner, because I was hungry and she probably was too.
“How did you and Callie meet, then?” She asked nonchalantly, leaning against the counter. “I’m sorry, I’m just kinda firing the Spanish Inquisition at you.” She laughed.
“Don’t worry, you’re allowed. If we’re going to adopt you then it would be kinda crazy if you didn’t know these things.” I assured her, starting to pull pots out of the cupboard above my head. “We met around six years ago. Callie had just come to a realisation about her, uh, sexual orientation, and it had caused some trouble. Before this, her husband cheated on her so they got divorced, and her very first girlfriend walked out on her. She was left broken and near depression. One night we were at the bar just across from the hospital and she went into the bathroom, clearly upset, so I followed her in. I basically told her that once she’s happy and ready to date again, that there’d be people lining up for her. She didn’t believe me. She laughed at me and asked her to give her some names. Before I even knew what I was doing, I kissed her, and left. And the rest is a very, very, very long story.” I summarised, laughing to myself at how long it would take to tell her all of our relationship.
“That’s so cute!” She gushed. “Who ever knew that a bar bathroom could be so sentimental.” She added.
“Yeah, not exactly the best location for kissing I’ve ever chosen.” I agreed. “But it got somewhere.”
“It sure did. So when did Sofia come along?”
I let out a low whistle, trying to think of how best to say this. “Little Miss Sofia Robbin Sloan Torres has a veeeeery long story. You up to hearing it? And you good for pasta, yeah?” I checked, holding up the bag of pasta before I dumped it all into the pot.
“Yes to both.”
“Okay.” I answered, pouring it all into the water and turning the gas on. I took a seat on the stools beside her.
“Well.” I started. “It all started with me winning an award, the Carter Madison Grant. It meant I could go to Africa for three years with nearly unlimited supplies and budget. Because it was a three year long project, Callie said she would move to Africa with me. So we did all of the stuff, but the drama happened at the airport. Callie didn’t want to leave, and that much was clear to anyone with eyes. So me, being the idiot I was, did something I still haven’t forgiven myself for. I left her at the airport.”
“My first few weeks were horrible. I’m fixing kids and it’s really great because I can actually see that I’m making a difference, but I was crying all of the time. I missed Callie. So I went back. I showed up at her apartment door and she slammed it in my face, which I honestly don’t blame her for. A few weeks go by with me apologising every time I saw her. Eventually, she got trapped alone in a elevator with me. It was awkward, especially when she told me that she was pregnant with her best friend Mark’s baby.
“Now, I never really liked Mark then. Sure, we got along well and he was a great guy, but we just never liked each other. Weeks past, as I tried to adjust to this, because everybody was expecting me to bail and run. But I swore I wouldn’t, and I didn’t.
“One weekend I took Callie to a B&B, and on the way there we started fighting over Mark. I felt like she chose him over me all of the time, that I was kind of a third wheel almost. So argument, argument, and I asked her to marry me. Then the truck came out of nowhere.” I paused because this memory was so hard for me to remember. I knew that if I’d just kept my eyes on the road and waited until we got there then we could have avoided it, and it was on my list of things that I would never forgive myself for. Poppy gasped and her eyes went wide.
“I nearly lost both of them. Callie was so injured, and we were all doubtful that she would make it, or even wake up if she did. Sofia Robbin Sloan Torres was born 16 weeks early weighing just 1 lb, 1 ounce. She was barely even viable and she faced so many struggles. When she was first born they couldn’t find a heartbeat, but I got in there and I managed to get her heart beating. There was a massive long road of recovery, but they were both discharged twelve weeks later. Even though it wasn’t in the way I imagined it, I couldn’t imagine life without her.”
It was quiet for a second as we both soaked in the story. It was hard to believe that Sofia had once been that 17 ounce baby, because she now loved to run around and dance and sing and her development was just the same as any other kid of her age, if not further.
“So you guys have been through a hell of a lot.” Poppy stated, looking me right in the eyes.
“Not to mention the gunman and the plane crash.” I joked, although it wasn’t really funny.
“Oh yeah! I remember seeing the documentary about that! I knew I’d seen you before. The guy’s wife died, and he came back with a gun and killed loads of people?”
“Shot 18, killed eleven.” I corrected.
“I know. Wow.”