A smile appeared on my lips as I heard the front door being opened. I put the slices of cucumber in the bowl and stirred the salad. I felt two arms wrap around my waist and a pair of lips on my neck, making my smile grow bigger.
"How was work?" I asked, placing the wooden spoon inside the bowl that was on the counter and turning around. I kissed Ante's lips softly before pulling away slightly.
"It went well. I'm making great progress with a few children... Do you need help preparing dinner? I have to talk to you about something." He announced as he removed his arms from around my waist. I frowned a little at these words, not knowing what to expect.
"I made some ham and cheese toasted sandwich and a salad. Do you want something else?"
"No, it's fine. I will set the table." He answered and I heard the noises of the cupboards. I took the food I prepared and put it on the table, anxiously waiting for what he needed to tell me.
As we sat around the table, I bit my lower lip slightly as I was waiting for him to speak. "You know I've been working with a lot of children in needs and mostly with children that are in foster cares..." He started and I listened to him with attention. His voice was firm and I could detect how determined he was. "Imogen and I got approached by an orphanage, the main one that we are working with, who thanked us for the great job we are doing with the children. We've been told that, if we ever wanted to, we could foster a child..."
My eyes widened at these words. "Wait, you're trying to tell me that you want us to foster a kid?"
"I would like us to consider this option, yes... It would be temporary while the child gets adopted and it would allow me to work with the child at the same time to make them feel better in their own skin."
I bit my lower lip at these words. I understood why he wanted to foster a kid: he wanted to help the ones who needed it and fostering one would be even more impactful on the kid's life but I wasn't sold on the idea. Having my own kids never really appealed to me and I wasn't sure I would enjoy being around one 24/24.
"That's not a decision that can be taken slightly... I'm not sure how it would work..." I started to say before stopping myself to put some food on my plate. "Would it be a baby or an older child?"
"It would be an older child. One who probably wouldn't have had an easy life before us... I know that it's not really how we imagined our lives but I would really appreciate it if you wanted to start this new chapter with me."
I stayed silent a few minutes, processing what he told me. "This is a big life change... How would we organize ourselves? There're not many things I could do to help with childcare..."
"I know and I'm not going to ask you to do things you can't do. You don't have to take a decision right now. You can take a few days to really think about it." He told me and I smiled slightly.
We continued to eat in silence and my mind wandered toward the conversation we just had. I had been happy when I learnt I couldn't have kids with Jessica and I never imagined having kids at all. I had mixed feelings about this situation. I liked how quiet and peaceful our lives were and I knew it would inevitably change with a kid in the house. Plus, he had told me it would probably be a kid who hadn't had an easy life which meant we would probably have difficulties with the kid or their behavior. But, on the other hand, I knew he was right and the kid would probably have a better life with us than in an orphanage while waiting to be adopted. I also knew how important it was for him to help people who needed it, especially kids. His childhood and teenage years weren't the best and he wanted to prevent them from suffering as much as he did.
I sighed silently and got up to washes the dishes. I heard Ante do the same. "I'm starting a little later tomorrow morning and I was planning to go to the cemetery to put fresh flowers on Martial's grave for his birthday. Do you want to come with me?" He asked, breaking the silence.
"I would love to. It had been a while since the last time I visited him." I answered with a smile as I continued to wash the various plates.
When the dishes were clean and put back at its place, we went in the living room where Ante looked for something to watch. After a while, he put on a TV show called Siberia on and he quickly explained what it was about. The concept seemed interesting – strangers having to survive in Siberia in the middle of winter to win some money – but I couldn't focus on what the characters were saying. My mind kept going back to the conversation we had. I wondered if he would end up resenting me if I didn't agree to foster a kid. Our relationship had been mostly great except for a few low moments but I still felt guilty that I couldn't help a lot. A part of me was worried that saying no to this would be the last straw and that he would end up dumping me. The chances of this situation happening were probably slim but I couldn't stop thinking about it.
When he turned the TV off, I had no ideas on what happened during the episodes and I followed him upstairs without a word. I undressed myself and put my clothes on the dresser before going under the covers. I crawled closer to Ante's body and wrapped my arms around his naked torso. I put a few kisses on his clavicle and smiled as he squeezed me softly against him. As a teenager, I would have never imagined us in an official relationship but I was glad I agreed to give it a try. Love in real life was a lot more different than in movies or books.
I put my head on his shoulder and closed my eyes, letting his heartbeat lulling me to sleep. When I woke up the bed was empty and I rubbed my eyes, getting out of the bed. I could hear the water running in the bathroom and I smiled as I picked the clothes I would wear today. I then made my way to the bathroom, my clothes in hand, and knocked twice softly before opening the door and entering the room. I closed it behind me and put my clothes in the designated area.
I felt a kiss on my cheek a few seconds after the water was turned off and I smiled as I undressed to take a shower as well. I closed my eyes as I felt the warm water hit my back and I started to wash my hair. I could feel that it was less dense than years ago and I wondered how it looked but Ante never mentioned it to me. I also wondered if I looked like my father at this age... I shook my head not wanting to think about this subject and turned the water off before stepping out of the shower. I quickly dried myself and put some clothes on before leaving the bathroom and going downstairs.
My stomach growled softly when I smelt the delicious odor of the bacon and the eggs that Ante was cooking. I prepared the table and took the orange juice from the fridge before sitting on a chair. I thanked him as he put food on my plate and we ate in a comfortable silence. We then quickly washed the dishes before getting ready to leave the house.
"We need to stop at a flower shop first." Ante informed me as we were walking in the city. I nodded and squeezed his hand softly as he led me around. It felt great to leave the house and to feel the sun on my skin.
I smiled softly as we entered in the flower shop and I was instantly hit by the smell of the numerous flowers. I waited as Ante picked the flowers he wanted and paid for it. As we left the shop, I couldn't help but ask. "What did you buy?"
"I got a few roses, some tulips and some orchids." He answered and I could hear the smile in his voice.
"He's going to love it. It smells absolutely divine."
The trip to the cemetery was peaceful and I enjoyed these moments that reminded me of the times when we were teenagers. After a while, we slowed down and he squeezed my hand softly before stopping completely. "We're here..." He said in a soft voice as he let go of my hand. "Hey Martial... Nazar and I brought you some flowers for your birthday..."
I kneeled next to Ante and smiled as I heard him speak to Martial's grave. I knew he often visited him either before or after work and while I accompanied him from time to time, I knew how important this was for him. I listened to him as he was telling Martial what happened since the last time he was here and I played with my hands as he started to tell him about the possibility of us fostering a kid. We hadn't talked about it since yesterday but I knew it was a conversation we needed to have.
When he stopped talking, I waited a few seconds before opening my mouth. "Hey Martial... It had been a while since the last time I came to visit you and I'm sorry about that. I hope Ante hadn't told you too many bullshits about me..." I said and smiled when I felt him pinch my side. "I hope you are happy wherever you are..."
We stayed silent for a few minutes before getting up. Ante took my hand into his and we left the cemetery without a word. "I'm bringing you back home and will leave for work immediately after. I'll be back in the evening, alright?" Ante asked, shattering the silence.
I nodded, knowing I would probably spend a big part of the day lost in my thoughts...