Page 4 of Hopeful Hearts

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Sophia was glad Brodie still needed to work. Although her dad had offered to clear their mortgage, Brodie was too proud of a man to give up his career; this was one reason she was so in love with him. Besides, having somewhere to be every day gave him some kind of routine and normality. Without it, he’d be stuck here with her and, in her opinion, he already spent way longer than he should at her bedside.

Every morning except for weekends, she attended the hospital for dialysis treatment without fail and more often than not, he’d be with her, talking to her when she didn’t feel like talking, making plans for their future, no matter how uncertain it seemed.

“Have you thought anymore about moving to home dialysis? Or what about reducing the number of days but increasing the hours so you have some more days off. You seem jaded. Maybe we should talk to Dr. Gunner about switching up your routine?” Sophia’s mum, Mel asked.

Sophia shook her head. “I told you, I don’t want to take this home with me. Home is supposed to be a safe space for making memories. Happy ones. I’m not turning it into some kind of weird multi-functional space where I’m on dialysis half the time. I need to keep things separate.”

“Alright. It’s your choice, I’m just making suggestions.”

“Plus, I prefer coming in for just a couple of hours. By the time I’ve rested afterwards, it gives me the afternoon to have some downtime and feel normal for a while, or at least try to,” Sophia explained.

“You must have been around seventeen in this one.” Mel changed the subject by placing a fingertip on the scrapbook she’d created to distract Sophia.

“This was right before I went to summer camp.”

“You were so happy. Just look at that smile.”

“We always had the best summers. We were just so happy to get to spend the summer together. You could have sent us to war for the season and we would still have had a ball.”

“I hated letting you go. You always came back different somehow.”

“In what way?”

Mel shrugged her shoulders, and she grew quiet for a moment. “You were a little wiser, more mature in a way, and a whole lot sassier, too, if my memory serves me right.”

Sophia chuckled at the thought of herself coming back to Lani Bay, thinking she knew everything about the world there was to know when the truth couldn’t have been more opposite. Her parents had always given Sophia and her brother Emmet a chance to be involved with everything.

If their dad took on a new venture, they were always involved in any big decisions and got to have a say. When Mel delivered a new baby, Sophia was always involved in some small way. Visiting with her to check in on the new mum, helping her pack her bag so she was always ready for an unexpected late-night call, and one of the new mums even named her firstborn after her. She said she hoped her baby’s eyes always sparkled the way Sophia’s did.

A sinking feeling overwhelmed Sophia as her mind flickered between the past and present and she wondered if her eyes still sparkled now. She highly doubted it. Last time, she dared to look in a mirror; she resembled some sort of ghost of her former self. The girl that smiled in all the photos Mel showed her was a stark reminder of the life she thought she had in front of her.

“You loved those girls, and you chose well. Although I questioned your friendship with Callie at times, and Paige had her moments, but on the whole, you’re lucky. Some people only ever have one best friend and you have five. Look at this one of you all together.” She flipped the page and Sophia turned away.

“Stop, Mum, I can’t do this.”

“What’s wrong, sweetheart?” Mel sounded crushed.

Sophia didn’t mean to hurt her feelings, but looking at a photo of herself with her five best friends was the last thing she needed right now.

“I know it’s been a while, but I’m sure if any of those girls knew what was going on and what you’re going through, they’d be here in a heartbeat.”

“That’s precisely why I’m not telling them. Let them have their photos and memories of me. If they see me like this, it’s all they’ll ever see. Dammit, I don’t even want to look at myself like this. I can’t stand the thought of it.”

Mel closed the book and placed it on the cabinet next to Sophia’s bed. “How about I leave this here for later and you tell me what’s really going on?”

Shuffling around, Sophia met her knowing gaze and rolled my eyes. “I’m dying, Mum. That’s what’s going on.”

Mel flew up out of the chair and for a second Sophia thought she might slap her right across my face. Instead, she began shaking her head and pacing up and down the room the same way that Brodie had just a few hours ago.

“Sorry,” Sophia murmured. Mad at herself for making her mum feel worse about the situation, if that was at all possible.

“I’m not doing this, Sophia. There is every chance that they will find you a match, but in the meantime; I refuse to let you mope around feeling sorry for yourself. You need to focus on all the amazing things you have to live for.”

She matched her daughter's bluntness with her own, and something in her clipped tone caught Sophia’s attention.

“I know what you’re trying to get at, Mum but I’m not doing it. I’m not going to marry someone just to leave them behind. It’s not right.”

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