Adopting Love. Part Two

Here’s the next part of Adopting Love–a short story I wrote.

With no further ado…

Adopting Love. Part Two.

I looked them each in the face in turn. There was a younger boy with something just… wrong. His smile was too high, too wide, too flaccid. Something was really messed up with his face. The skin around his eyes was pinched from some surgery or something. His black hair hung close to his eyes. He had a pair of jeans, bare feet, and a green T-shirt that said something about Minecraft. He had a half-smile that either wasn’t supposed to be a smile or was obviously superficial. Sean had mentioned everyone’s name, but I’d forgotten what his name was. After nodding to him, I moved onto another of Sean’s children.

                           The next child I recognized as Katie. She was one I had supposed to be the oldest. She was at least somewhere between fourteen and twenty, as far as I could tell, and about five-four. Her chestnut-brown hair was pulled back into a pony-tail. Her face looked… almost bloated. Her cheeks were far too large and her lips were wide and protruding. Like she was a hippo. Immediately after thinking that I felt guilty and vowed to somehow make it up to her, even without ever telling her. She wore a short purple dress and a pair of sandals. Her lips were relaxed, but the edges of her eyebrows were turned up, indicating to me a smile.

                           There was the young child with a cleft pallet and something else distinctly wrong, though I couldn’t tell exactly what, but my attention moved quickly to Gabe.

                           Among all the children, I had noticed Gabriel in the picture.

                           He was missing some portion of his jaw, so that his lower face sunk into his neck and his nose looked reconstructed. All about his mouth, long lines of scar tissue raced along his olive complexion. His eyes were of a sullen coal darkness and his curly hair made a healthy corona about his cranium.

                           Among all the children, he seemed to be the only one with traumatic injury instead of birth defects. And, perhaps it was just me, but it looked like he was the one who had caused it.

                           Sure, my over-analytical mind was racing a little too fast for its good, but I don’t mind telling you that I was right with my assumption. I’d later learn a lot more about Gabe’s story and his failed attempt at suicide. But at that point, it was all speculation.

                           Even though only silence greeted me, I wasn’t terribly deterred. Several other kids met us, but I wasn’t able to give them much attention at this point.

                           “Do you guys eat ice cream?” I popped open the back of my car.

                           “Yes sir.” Katie managed—her voice surprisingly normal.

                           “I figured as much.” I grinned. “Who can help me carry these?” I held up two Brookshire’s bags. The kid with the Minecraft shirt and Gabe each took one. “This place is beautiful. The garden looks great.”

                           I took a deep breath and then laughed loudly.  I think that scared half the children half to death.

                           “So, who does the most weeding?”

                           They shrugged.

                           “Do you guys like the weather here? I was just in Iran and man, it sure is cool here.”

                           A couple nods.

                           “Do you guys have a creek down there?” I motioned toward the line of trees at the base of hill the house stood on.

                           “We do.” Katie said.

Okay, maybe I was getting a little deterred at this point. I turned so that we could move toward the door. Katie hesitantly led the way up the walk.

                           We collectively stopped to pull our shoes off at the door. I kicked off my leather boat shoes and nudged them together into a spot by the door. Then, I followed Minecraft kid into the house after Katie.

                           The first thing I noticed was the pungent smell of bell peppers and maybe onions sauteing. There was a hint of something chocolatey baking in the oven and certainly the aroma of fresh bread in the air.

                           To the left, there was a living room with two large leather couches, and between them a red rug with pink flowers. An end table stood at each end of each of the couches and on which, there were several random books stacked—clearly the family’s TBR pile.

                           There was large dark television above the gas fireplace, and a massive stone hearth in front of it.

Behind the couches, four large glass doors opened into the backyard and pool.

I turned my attention to the kitchen. It was large and white. A large stainless-steel fridge and oven were up against the wall and an island in the center of the kitchen was topped with a slab of granite.

Lydia was at the stove, stirring something. Sean stood at the counter, chopping carrots for a salad.

I looked into his blue eyes—they had gone all wrinkly on the edges—and he into mine and it occurred to me with some horror that he had gotten old. And that I had too.

His hairline was moving backwards (granted, he had done a lot better than I had, being completely bald). His upper body was still well shaped and taunt over his six-foot form. The T-shirt he wore looked a little snug around his biceps, and his calves looked like they’d been carved from stone. He wore no shoes and a pair of cargo shorts.

When our eyes met, he smiled. “Hi Noah.”

“Hi Sean.” I stepped forward and gripped his hand. He pulled me into a bearhug and soundly patted me on the back. “Been too long, man.” I said, tears coming to my eyes, for some confounded reason.

“Way too long.” He said, finally letting me go.

There shalt be more of this story once I post about something else…

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