“I can imagine,” Evangeline said as she licked her lips and flashed a fake smile.
We made awkward small talk until Rose ran toward us. “Mommy, I’m thirsty.”
Genia reached into the cooler. “I have your water here.”
Rose chugged it down before closing the cap. She hadn’t looked at us and started to take off again.
“Wait a minute, missy!” Genia shouted after her. “Say hello to my friends before you run off again.”
“Hello.” She made eye contact with me in particular then seemed to examine my arm. “I remember you.”
“Uh-huh. You helped me find my ball.”
“That’s right. That was many months ago. I can’t believe you remembered me.”
“I remember the E on your arm.”
I chuckled as I looked down at the tattoo on my forearm.
“You’re very sharp.”
“What does the E stand for?”
Curious as to what she would say, I responded with a question. “What do you think it stands for?”
While the three adults laughed at her response, Rose looked so cute as she stood there confused. Little did she know that just beneath my shirt was a tattoo of her own name. I’d recently had Rose inked over my heart.
“The E stands for Evangeline.”
Genia glanced over at me with a slight look of warning. I’d forgotten that we weren’t supposed to say our names. I wasn’t thinking. Evangeline looked at me, too, seeming surprised at my answer. She’d once wrongly assumed that the E stood for Elle; it always stood for Evangeline.
“Who’s Evangeline?” Rose asked.
“Like your dog?”
“Something like that. Do you have a dog?”
“No. My mom won’t let us get one.”
I would SO get you a dog.
Anything you wanted.
She turned to Evangeline for the first time. “I like your hair.”
“Thank you. I like yours, too.”
They had the same exact hair.
Out of nowhere, Rose suddenly bolted in the direction of the slide. Evangeline stayed quiet but wouldn’t stop staring at Rose. I suspected she was going through the same emotions I was the first time I got to see our daughter in person. It was one thing to think about her, but another altogether to see your flesh and blood right in front of you, especially when it was as precious as Rose.
Continuing to keep her eyes on Rose, Evangeline finally spoke up. “How does she handle her disability in general?”
“It’s all she’s ever known, which in some ways makes it easier than losing functionality later in life.” My thoughts immediately turned to Elle as Genia continued, “We’ve always encouraged her not to give up on the things she thinks she can’t do. Like baseball. That took a while, but eventually she was able to play almost exactly as well as the other kids.”
I nodded in agreement. “I admire what you’ve done, encouraging her to be the best that she can be. Thank you.”
“Thank you for not fighting the adoption. I can’t tell you how much that means to me.”
“Are you going to tell her someday?” I asked.
“We’re not sure.”
“She has a right to know.”
“We’re considering it, just not anytime soon.”
“She’s never asked why she looks so different from her sisters?”
Before Genia could answer me, Rose ran toward us. She had dirt all over her bottom.
“Can I have my Capri Sun?”
“That’s for lunch. You want to sit down and eat now?”
Genia handed Rose a peanut butter and jelly sandwich along with the pouch of juice. Taking a spot on the bench, she began to devour her lunch then turned to me with her mouth full. “Why are you named after a number?”
“What do you mean?”
Genia’s eyes widened.
“I never told you my name.”
“You told my Daddy once.”
I’d forgotten I’d told Robert my name before he shooed Rose away that day at the baseball field.
“How did you remember that?”
“It’s easy to remember a number.”
She turned to Evangeline. “What’s your name?”
Hesitating, she finally said, “Sienna.”
“Thank you. So is Rose.”
Rose did this thing where she hummed when she chewed. At one point, Evangeline and I, who were fixated on her, looked at one another and smiled with a look that said, We did that?
Rose handed me the rest of her sandwich. “You want this?”
Genia laughed. “Rose, I don’t think he wants to eat your scraps.”
“Are you kidding?” I joked, “I love peanut butter and jelly!” I took it from her and stuffed my face, making noises that sounded sort of like Cookie Monster. Rose started to laugh.
When her cackling died down, she casually swung her legs back and forth and randomly said, “We’re moving to Origami.”
“I heard. How do you feel about that?”
“I don’t want to go.”
“I know how you feel.”
“You’re moving there, too?”