Cosima closed her eyes and tilted her head back, basking in the heat of the afternoon sun as it caressed her face. A soft sigh escaped from between her lips as she soaked in the warmth. She had been in Minnesota for too long. She had almost forgotten what it felt like to be warm; what it felt like to step outside and have the air welcome you, soft and gentle, like a lover.
An excited shout pierced the air.
Cosima’s eyes fluttered open and her head turned in the direction of the sound.
The voice was Delphine’s and it called to her like a siren’s song.
From her spot on the plastic lounge chair she had grown up whiling away her summers on, Cosima watched as Delphine caught a soccer ball that had sailed over the fence from the neighbour’s yard. Delphine twirled around elegantly, and as she lifted her arms into the air victoriously, the sun caught her hair and lit it up like spun gold.
She looked ethereal in that moment, like ‘An angel come to earth,’ Cosima thought.
It was a truth that, even after all of the time they had been together and after everything they had been through, still filled Cosima with wonder and a touch of disbelief. To think that she had gotten the girl, that she had gotten this girl, sometimes still felt like a dream.
The sound of clapping tore Cosima out of her thoughts.
When she became aware of her surroundings again she saw her father clapping as Delphine curtseyed playfully.
Cosima smiled at the display.
Delphine was a charming person. She had an easy and engaging manner that more often than not made people warm to her instantly. Her accent enchanted, the softly lilting almost musical quality of it putting people immediately at ease. And in addition to her innate winsomeness, Delphine was an excellent conversationalist, a good listener, clever, cultured, highly educated, and well-traveled.
She was, to put it succinctly, ‘parent candy.’
She had been forged in the heavens to make parents say, “Call me mom,” and “Call me dad.”
When Delphine had first met Cosima’s parents at the airport and extended her hand, a gentle smile on her lips as her eyes crinkled at the corners, Cosima’s father had actually blushed as he reached out to grasp her hand.
The odds of her parents liking Delphine were entirely in her favour. Intellectually, Cosima had always known this. Delphine was a charismatic, age appropriate, French doctor. Cosima could not have presented her parents with a more suitable partner for herself. However, it was still a relief to see the three of them get on like a house on fire.
The four of them had eaten a late breakfast together, and then they had made their way out into the backyard where Mrs. Niehaus and Delphine had spent the last hours of the morning in the pool, their arms folded comfortably on the edge to help keep them afloat as their legs kicked out behind them leisurely. Cosima’s mother had referred to what they were doing as water aerobics, but Cosima was fairly certain that any actions you could comfortably perform while steadily making your way through a pitcher of Hurricanes shouldn’t be referred to as exercise.
Cosima had hoped to steal Delphine away for a few hours after lunch, maybe escape the house for the some shopping or a walk in the park, but before she could spirit her girlfriend away, her father had approached Delphine and proceed to purloin all of her attention. Delphine had mentioned Charles Baudelaire as they had lunched on homemade cioppino, and he was eager to find out which of his other favourites Delphine might have read.
Presently, Delphine threw the soccer ball she had caught back over the fence and Cosima continued to watch her with a gentle smile on her face, utterly smitten, as usual.
“You look very … happy,” Mrs. Niehaus commented from the lounge chair beside Cosima as she watched her daughter watch Delphine.
Caught, Cosima turned to look at her mother and shrugged nonchalantly in response, but the radiant smile that pulled up the corners of her mouth as she did gave her true feelings away.
Her mother stared at her for a few seconds, and Cosima knew that she wanted to pester her with questions like, ‘Is she going to move in with you? Has she already?’, ‘How long is she in America for?’, ‘What are you going to do when her visa expires?’, ‘Have you been away together before?’, ‘She is stunning’, ‘Why did it take you so long to tell us about her?’, ‘You move away and all of a sudden you don’t have to tell your parents anything about your life, is that it?’, ‘Are you learning to speak French?’
“Don’t,” Cosima whined piteously before her mother could even part her lips.
She did not want to deal with a mom-terrogation. It was entirely too nice a day and also she never wanted to deal with mom-terrogations.
“I wasn’t going to--“
“You were,” Cosima interjected, cutting her mother off mid-response. “You know you were. Don’t,” she pleaded again. “We’re here for a week. Give me today. Please, just give me today.”
“God lord Cosima, you make it sound like I was seconds away from waterboarding you,” Mrs. Niehaus sighed with a type of exasperation that was unique to parents attempting to talk to their obstinate children.
“Essentially,” Cosima murmured, and her mother’s eyes narrowed at her in displeasure, which made Cosima smile. “Hi mommy,” she said cutely a second later, smiling brightly at her mother as she waved her hand at her, knowing that it would disarm her mother, as it had since Cosima was old enough to consciously try and manipulate her parents.
Her mother sighed in response and gave up.
Cosima was pleased that she hadn’t lost her touch.
“What are your plans for the evening?” Mrs. Niehaus asked a moment later, managing to sound only mildly miffed with her daughter.
About a billion and three dirty thoughts popped into Cosima’s brain in response to her mother’s question, but her mother was not an audience that would appreciate her ribald humor so Cosima simply replied, “I thought we might go to Pier 39,” as she focused her eyes on the lawn where her father and Delphine were seated.
There was an open book on Delphine’s lap and she seemed to be reading to him.
“Is he making her translate that first edition Tom got him?” Cosima asked looking over at her mother. “He’s making her translate that first edition Tom got him,” Cosima decided before her mother had a chance to respond. “Why does he do these things? She’s not Google Translate. He has money. He could buy an edition in English.”
“They’re having fun, Cosima. Stop complaining,” Mrs. Niehaus replied rolling her eyes at her daughter’s antics. “You should take Delphine on The Neptune for a tasting, introduce her to some California wine,” she continued as Cosima leaned back in the chair and turned towards her, leaving her father and Delphine to whatever it was they were doing. “I know you find them kitschy, but visitors always love the street shows.”
Cosima’s eyes hooded a little as she listened to her mother. She felt herself begin to drift into a pleasant daze, and with an idle sort of wonder she realized that she was content. For the first time in a very long time, she was truly relaxed. Back in Minnesota and Toronto there were conspiracies to unravel, evil corporations to bring down, pro-clones to outsmart, and host of other things to worry about. But for now, Cosima was lying in the sun, in a place that had always made her feel safe, surrounded by love, and by god she was going to enjoy it.