Our decisions change the world.
Our world. Their worlds. Separating- intertwining- mending.
A look one day spared at the dinner table, a question carefully asked but ready for a surely inevitable rejection-
-that doesn’t come.
The first day of taking our children home- we can raise them, love them. Break them.
It should never come to breaking them.
My heart holds nothing but love for the little girl- she hasn’t been in our world for more than two months. Yet she has already adapted, learned to trust us, maybe even feeling at home.
Her eyes are curious and form more intelligence for each day I wake her. Only two years old, crawling along the floors of our apartment, trying to eat anything she can get her chubby little hands on.
I’ve had my doubts about having children, adopting- like we did with our daughter- or insemination, either alternative has caused me sleepless nights. The worries might stem from my lack of belief in myself- I was anxious about getting together, moving in, joining the band, getting my job as a teacher, too.
And yet- here, in my boyfriend’s embrace, having put the baby to bed- I am nothing but content.
“It’s good being in bed again.” Flake said tiredly but contentedly, snuggling closer to Till. “It’s been such a busy week.”
“It has.” Agreed Till, resting his chin against Flake’s head and then kissing the crown of his head lightly.
“Parenthood is a challenge, but it is all worth it in the end. Seeing her crawl for the first time, feeling her hands in your hair. Soon she will be walking and then talking.”
Flake reached to stroke the long bleached strands from his face and Till chuckled.
“Oh no, I don’t want to think about that just yet.” said Flake somewhat nervously. “I only just got used to her crawling recently. Don’t think so far ahead into the future. It’s making me nervous.”
Till let out another chuckle and stroked his boyfriend’s back lightly. “I think it makes us all nervous. But I suppose you’re right, Let’s focus on the present. If we stress too much, we will get gray hairs. And that would be a bad thing, since we’re just in our 20s!”
Flake cracked a smile at that.
“Yes. We don’t want that,” he rubbed his eyes tiredly “I wonder how Richard and Paul are handling their kid. From what I’ve heard, Ethan has started talking now-” Flake informed Till “-and running, too. He’s a little bit of a loudmouth but he’s a sweet kid. I kind of feel a bit envious for Rosa.”
Till petted his hair gently. “Remember she is only two years old, dear. She will walk and talk eventually.” Till reassured him, planting a kiss on his cheek.
“Ethan sounds so much like Richard already. I bet he gets his sweetness from Paul and his loud mouth from Richard.” smiled Till.
“I bet they’re great parents. And with Richard’s love for clothes, he must be spoiling him rotten. Just imagine- a baby Richard, all dressed up in baby clothes-” Till snorted “- goth baby clothes.”
Flake rolled his eyes and rubbed his head on Till’s shoulder, getting a kiss right on his head and massaged his temples at the thought of a small Richard.
Insufferable… in baby size .
“You’re probably right,” said Flake “Much like we spoil Rosa. I bought her some nice food yesterday, yet she still insists on eating dirt and other things she finds on the ground.”
“That’s babies for you. Always eating things they shouldn’t.” said Till with an amused grin.
“She really tired herself out today with all that crawling.” said Flake.
“I’m so glad we have time to ourselves at last.
“Speaking of time to ourselves-” Till said coyly with a sly grin on his face “we we can finally-”
“No.” said Flake bluntly.
“Normally I would say yes but I haven’t had a wink of sleep lately so I’m trying to catch up on some while Rosa’s asleep because she can wake up at any time.”
Till pouted and tried to pull Flake in with his very best puppy eyes, but Flake shook his head and turned away.
“Aw, hey. Sorry about that, it’s just…” Till heaved himself onto his side and carefully embraced Flake. “We don’t get much done. I just thought it’d be a nice break from all our parenting.”
Flake let out a sigh and turned to peck Till’s nose. He half-smiled wryly and happily accepted being held when he turned his back to Till again, his long fingers stroking his boyfriend’s big hand as it laid flung over his thin chest.
“Yeah, I get it. I’d like to, too-” he felt Till tense up behind him, “-but I need to sleep first. You know how I am during grading season. No libido before I’ve gotten rest.”
Till grunted but didn’t push the issue farther. Made himself comfortable in the sheets before Flake turned off his bedside lamp and the room was dressed in darkness.
Flake’s heart beat steadily under his fingers, his chest rising up and down rhythmically. Till smiled to himself and brushed some of Flake’s long blonde hair- colour unintelligible in the darkness- from his face before adjusting his head so that his forehead rested on Flake’s back.
Rosa fiddled with the tie of her uniform nervously. It was comfortable, but the thought of beginning school wasn’t. What if she made no friends? What if people made fun of her?
All these thoughts swirled around in her little head. Perhaps she could convince her parents to let her stay home.
“Are you alright, dear?” asked Till with concern.
“You haven’t eaten your breakfast.”
Rosa shook her head.
“Can’t eat. I’m a bit scared.” she said quietly.
“Is it because of your first day?” Till asked. Rosa nodded without saying anything.
“There is no need to worry. People will love you! You’ll make friends right away. Remember that little boy that you used to play with?”
Rosa nodded wearily, her ponytail sliding briefly against her back.
“Well, his name is Ethan and he’s Paul and Richard’s son. He’s a bit older than you, but he’ll be your friend. I’m sure of it.” Till explained with a reassuring smile.
“And don’t forget, you have papa teaching you in the future.”
“I guess so.” said Rosa, finally managing to give him a small smile.
“I’m not that scared now. Thanks daddy!” She reached up to hug Till’s legs and screamed in joy when he lifted her up to his chest and embraced her.
“Now remember to do your best today.” Till said as he kissed her on the forehead. “And to just relax.”
The bell rang, signalling to everyone that school had begun.
Rosa saw many differently aged students from kids her age to much older, scary looking ones that either had their eyes fixed on complicated looking books or were rushing to their next classes, looking like they had not had a good night's sleep in a while.
She guessed that school would get more stressful as her time there went on.
That thought did not comfort her at all, another thing that didn’t help is that she had no idea which way to go or where her classes were. She considered getting her father for help...if she only knew where he was. She felt like crying on the spot from the pressure of it all.
“Hey, are you alright? You look like you’re going to cry. Do you need some help?” said somebody behind her. Rosa looked up to find a boy a few years older than her with dark hair and blue eyes. He seemed a bit scary, but she knew that he was a nice boy.
“Hello! I remember you. We used to play together when I was still a baby. Your name is Ethan and you’re my papas’ friend’s kid.” She stated a-matter-of-factly. Ethan blinked a few times in surprise, unsure of what to say. He then seemed to find his voice again and cleared his throat.
“Y-Yeah I am! You’re that girl with the long name, right? Marie-something?” he said loudly. “You gotta come back over to visit me. We can play some more if you like! My dads’ miss having you around.”
“I would like that!” said Rosa happily. “I have a long name, yes. You can call me Marie. I’ll have to ask my parents first about the visit, but right now I’m lost and I need help.”
“Oh sorry! I forgot.” Ethan slapped a hand on his forehead. “Stupid me, C’mon, follow me.” He gestured to her to follow, which she did gladly.
They passed many different classrooms and took a few turns that Rosa got slightly confused, and when they finally reached her classroom, she was rather out of breath.
“Look, we finally made it! You will love it there. The teacher is really nice, so you don’t need to be scared. I had her when I first started here.” He said. Rosa gave him a quick hug before hesitating before the door to her classroom and shot a look at Ethan.
“Just remember I’ll always be here if you want a friend to play with!” he half yelled as he darted down the halls, the school’s black blazer blowing up behind him as he ran. Rosa watched him go with a look of amusement and headed into her classroom with the other kids.
Rosa sat quietly on a bench near the playground eating her lunch and watching the other kids run around and playing with each other. She wanted to go introduce herself to everyone there, but she was just too shy, so she decided against it.
She wished Ethan was around. He did say that he would be there if she ever wanted to play with him. She wanted to go and find him- but then she remembered; she never asked him where she could find him.
Rosa shook her head and mumbled “oh silly me” to herself, continuing to poke around with her fork after the potato slices in her plastic lunch box- it was white and had little funny and colorful creatures on it. Flake had called them dinosaurs, she recalled- and just then, she felt a hand on her shoulder. She let out an alarmed squeak and turned around to see Ethan smiling at her brightly.
“Hey! I was looking for you.” He said. “What are you doing?”
“Just eating some food.” Rosa said, pointing at her half eaten sandwich with her free hand.
“How was your first lesson today?” Ethan asked curiously. “Did you have fun?”
“It was,” she nodded “we learned about all sorts of things. And the teacher was really nice like you said.”
Ethan beamed. “That’s great!”
Rosa took a bite of her sandwich and wiped crumbs with her sleeve.
“What grade are you in? Daddy and papa say you’re older than me. What do old kids do?”
Ethan sighed audibly, crossed his arms and pouted.
“I’m in grade two. We do so much boring stuff! Homework sucks, you should be glad you don’t have it. And you won’t like Frau Helmer, because she’s so strict, I hope you’ll have somebody fun.”
Shaking his head and fidgeting with his uniform buttons, Ethan stuck out his tongue and mimicked a teacher’s voice.
“Nein, Krunders, you can’t hold your ruler upside down! Nein, nein, eat with the fork in your
left hand! Krunders, read question five aloud!”
Rosa giggled at Ethan’s antics and recalled a time when her papa was talking about one of his colleagues, a woman. That must’ve been Frau Helmer, Rosa thought, because papa hadn’t been speaking too greatly about her.
“You get it. But if you have cool friends then you can get through all the bad stuff.”
“I don’t really have any friends yet… but, I have you! Do you have any other friends?” Rosa dangled her legs and put her sandwich back in her lunchbox. Ethan was more interesting than her sandwich, she thought, and the so-called dinosaurs were pretty to look at.
“Well, I have some classmates I talk with during lessons, but nobody ever sits with me during lunch. There’s this person who comes over to my house sometimes, though, because our parents are friends.”
“Who is that person? My dads might know their parents too.” Rosa was fascinated with what Ethan had to say, being old sounded hard but she got to show her dads she was responsible. I am already alone at lunch , she thought, so we’re not too different .
“Well, ehm, long orange hair, glasses. You know how boys have ties and pants and girls wear bows and skirts as our uniforms?”
“Well, they wear a skirt and a tie. So I guess they’re not a boy nor a girl, or maybe both. They have different coloured eyes.”
“Like me!” Rosa exclaimed, pointing to her one green eye and her other, brown eye, dimples forming on her brown cheeks.
Ethan nodded with a smile.
“Yes sort of like you! Well it’s like...” he struggled to find the right words for a minute. For a second Rosa thought she was seeing a mini Richard, considering how he was scrunching up his face in thought.
“They’re different!” Ethan finally said.
“I see.” said Rosa. “And do your dads know about them?”
“I think so. They are the kid of some people named Oliver and Christopher. I heard my dads talking about them one night. I think they are called Jak. I hear the other kids think they’re a bit weird because of how they dress so I think they don’t really talk to them. ”
“We should be friends with them!” said Rosa eagerly. “That way they will not be lonely and sit by themselves and we will have another friend!”
“Well next time you come over, I’ll introduce you. Jak would love that.” Ethan said, lightly patting Rosa on her head.
Rosa beamed and popped her box open again. She continued eating her sandwich as Ethan hurried away.
“Did you have a nice day, darling?” Rosa’s father asked as he drove the both of them back home from the school.
“Did anything interesting happen?”
“Yes! Thank you, papa. I think so. I met Ethan. He has grown really big now!” exclaimed Rosa from the back seat.
Her papa, Flake, nodded. “That’s right. You haven’t seen him for quite some time, but you must have been really happy to see him again.”
Rosa nodded. “Yes, I was. And, you know what? He has another friend, Jak! Do you know who Jak is, papa? Have I met them?”
“I think you have. But it was back when you were a baby so I don’t think you would remember them that well. But it is good that you want to be their friend! Having a friend would be good for them.” said Flake, his eyes still on the road.
“Maybe I’ll have them around soon.” said Rosa.
Flake said nothing. Instead, he smiled.