I picked up the box labeled “Sophie’s stuff” out of the trunk of the ancient Toyota Corolla. Sophie’s stuff. Down to one box? How did all of my ‘stuff’ get reduced to one stinking box? One box. I tore open the top. I sighed in relief when I saw my teddy bear, Cuddles on the top. As long as Cuddles was here, I’d be fine.
“Sophie?” The DCF worker who tried to make friends with me, Molly, smiled friendlily at me and wrapped her arm around me, “I’m sorry that’s all we could get. I’m sure there’s so much more you want, and maybe we can have your uncle get it in a few weeks. My throat tightened. My uncle. My uncle I’d never met. My dad’s brother. What if he was like my dad? What if he’d do the exact same thing that my dad did to me? I burst into tears, “I want to go home! I want my mom! I want my room! I DON’T want to be HERE!”
“Sophie? Sophie, is that you? Nat, Sophie’s here!” I could hear footsteps approaching me. I peeked out at the source of the noise. I did a double take. THIS was my uncle? My dad had been in his late fourties. This must be my cousin. Although I had been unaware of having to live with anyone other than my dad’s brother and his wife. This guy looked WAY younger than my uncle could be. He looked like one of those cocky college guys that all my friends tried to flirt with. He had a goofy smile on his face and curly brown hair. If I didn’t have to live with him, I would have immediately liked him.
“Hey, Soph.” He said gently, placing his hand on my shoulder, “I’m sure you don’t remember me. I haven’t seen you since your kindergarten graduation. I’m Bryan. We’re cutting out the ‘uncle’ crap.” He smiled kindly at me.
“I know you’ve been through a lot,” Bryan continued, “So today we’re just gonna order in pizza and relax. We’ll show you around. Nat’s really excited you’re here. She grew up with five brothers, and she’s always wanted a sister. She went out and designed your room and bought you all this stuff. I told her that you’d probably have your own stuff and wouldn’t want her crap, but she…”
“Bry, I thought you wanted her to like us. Talking her ear off is not going to do that.” A pregnant woman, who was still petite with a dark brown ponytail had placed her hand on Bryan’s shoulder. She smiled at me, “Hey there, you must be Sophie! I’m Natalie, or Nat, as this big oaf prefers to call me.” She elbowed Brian in the side. I cracked a smile, “I’m reeeally sorry that he was the one to greet you. I know, it sucks. He’s crazy.” She looked up at Molly, who I had forgotten was even here and smiled, “Thanks for all your help, Molly. I think Bry and I…” She looked at Bryan, who had smacked his arm in an attempt to kill a mosquito and missed. “Owie…” Bryan whined, rubbing his arm . Natalie rolled her eyes and turned to face Molly again, “Um. I think I’ve got it from here.”
Molly eyed Bryan cautiously, “Um, okay. Well all the paperwork is in order, and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call me.” She handed Natalie her card. I peeked at it:
Department of Children and Families Services
State of Connecticut
“Thank you again, for all your help.” Natalie said, shaking hands with Molly. Molly turned to Bryan to shake his hand but he was crazily itching his newly acquired mosquito bite, “Umm, goodbye Mr. James.” “Bye.” Bryan muttered, scratching at the bite. Natalie cleared her throat and once again elbowed Bryan in the ribs. His head popped up, and immediately, a charming smile came over his face, “Goodbye, Ms. Hanson,” He said, shaking her hand professionally, “We cannot thank you enough for all the hard work you have done for us, and Miss Sophie here.” He wrapped his arm around me.
Usually, whenever a man touched me, I would slink away, praying it would end soon. This was my initial reaction. Bryan dropped his arm. He shot me a look that I couldn’t read. Molly and Natalie were talking, so he leaned down to whisper in my ear, “By the way, I am NOTHING like your father. I would never hurt you. I promise.”
Although I didn’t want to, I believed him.
Two years later, I shake hands with my principal, with a real smile on my face. I looked out and saw my family. Natalie was sitting down with my cousin, Ruby on her lap, with a huge grin on her face, her hands on top of Ruby’s hands as they clapped together. I looked at Bryan. He had tears in his eyes. He had kept his promise, and so much more. He was my best friend. I had been accepted to Yale for Pre-Med. I couldn’t have done any of what I had accomplished without Nat and Bry. And little Ruby, too.
Thank Goodness for New Beginnings.