Sofia doesn’t like mom’s new husband, Demian. When she starts waking up every night to her mom’s crying, Sofia will do anything to stop her mom’s suffering. But first, she needs proof.
“Sofia, where are you going? It’s game night.”
Sofia pouted at the front door before looking at Mom. “I’m going out. It’s my Friday night band practice, remember?”
“Can’t you stay this time?” Mom looked at her pleadingly. “You never spend time with me anymore and Demian took out the Pictionary for us.”
“I’m fourteen, Mom, I’m not going to play Pictionary!” Sofia opened the front door.
“Come back here right now, Sofia.” Demian’s face appeared around the corner. “We’re going to have a family night, and you’re part of this family.”
“Not in a dream.” Sofia slipped away and ran down the hall. Just because Sofia had to put up with her stepfather Demian living in her space didn’t mean she was interested in meeting him.
Sofia ran to catch the bus. She soon arrived at her friend Cristian’s house. Everyone else was already there. Sofia pulled the drumsticks out of her with an elaborate twist and sat down to practice.
On Monday, Sofia spent most of math class practicing her rhythm for a new song. She had a pencil in each hand and was tapping them against the desk. She was about to get it when a rhythmic tapping of his left hand startled her.
“Do you want to stop?” Sofia frowned at her classmate, José.
“I’m sorry.” José blushed.
“You’ve got a nice sound in there, and I was thinking how I could make it work on piano.”
Sofia rolled her eyes. “This is for the drums, not your piano. Don’t you play in church?”
“Yes, but that doesn’t mean I only play church music. I know how to do other things too.”
“I doubt it”. Sofia walked over and picked up the book from her desk. “Braille, really? Why would you learn that, to read with your fingers?”
“I find it interesting.” José slipped the book from Sofia’s hand. “Braille and sign language don’t get half the attention they deserve. Everyone should know about them.”
“You’re a nerd, José.”
That night, a strange sound woke Sofia up. It was dark and late enough that even the neighbors downstairs were quiet. Sofia listened for a while… someone was crying. Sofia got out of bed and went to the door of her room.
The door to her mother’s room opened and her mother ran out. Sofia wiped away her tears, but she couldn’t contain the new tears that ran down her cheeks.
“Mom, what’s up?” Sofia looked towards the bedroom and then back to her mother, “Is Demian…?”
“Your mother wanted to take it easy, find the right time to tell you, but you’re never home.”
“Everything is fine, Sofía. Go back to bed, you have school in the morning,” her mother wanted to reassure her, and she accompanied her to her room.
Sofia was not convinced. She got back into bed and listened carefully as her mom went to the bathroom and came back to her room. Low voices could be heard down the hall, but Sofia couldn’t make out what Mom and Demian were saying.
Sofia clenched her teeth. If Demian had hurt her mom, she would make him sorry.
The mother’s nightly cries continued for the rest of the week. Sofia barely slept because she was worried about what was going on in the other bedroom to make her mom cry in the middle of the night. Sofia never heard anything to explain Demian’s actions, but she found a way to get answers.
An old teddy bear with a baby camera was poking out of a box in the garage. Sofia happily dissected the bear to get the camera out of it. He was messed up and didn’t record audio when Sofia tried it out, but she decided it would work.
When she came back from school on Friday, Sofia took the camera to mom’s room. The corner shelf would be the perfect place to hide it. As Sofia was setting up the camera, the bedroom door was flung open.
“What are you doing here?”
Demian was in the doorway, watching her with his arms crossed over his chest.
“What, now I can’t find a book in my mother’s room?” Sofia bumped into him as she left the room. “Next time I’ll take my library card.”
Sofia’s heart pounded in her chest as she walked away. She hoped she had hidden the camera well to get the evidence she would need to incriminate Demian.
However, the video footage did not answer any of Sofia’s questions when she reviewed it the next day. Mom sat on the edge of the bed and started to cry, and Demian got up to comfort her. Sofia saw it several times, but she didn’t find anything incriminating.
“If only I knew what they say,” she muttered as she watched Mom and Demian’s lips move on the screen. “Luckily, I know someone who can help me with that.”
Sofía cornered José on Monday after school. José turned red and began to stutter when she told him that she needed her help. It was so awkward that Sofia was about to change her mind, but he was the only person she knew capable of reading her lips.
“This is not what I expected,” José said as Sofía led him to the garage.
“It’s private down here,” Sofia replied. She took the laptop from her and put it on an old table. “Now come here.”
José crouched down next to her. He was a little too close and he didn’t seem to know what to do with himself. The truth was that José seemed pretty to her, but Sofía quickly erased that thought from her mind. There were more serious matters to attend to.
“And good?” Sofía looked at José expectantly. She had already played the recording twice, but all she had done was frown.
“I… I’m sorry, Sofia. I didn’t know your mother was sick.”
“Sick?” That single word was like a crack that spreads through the glass: it changed everything Sofia thought she knew. “What do you mean she’s sick?”
“Uh… you didn’t know.” José ran his fingers through his hair. “Your mother has a serious illness.” He looked at her sadly.
“It’s very serious, and she’s not well.”
Sofia’s hands balled into fists. Jose had to be lying. She looked back at the screen, where the video had stopped at a scene of Mom crying as Demian held her. Demian was supposed to be the problem, and Sofia was supposed to solve it by getting rid of him somehow. This disease changed everything.
“Why did you not tell me?”. Sofia’s voice broke and her eyes filled with tears. “Because…”.
José put his arm around Sofia as she cried.
José stayed with Sofía until she calmed down. He also helped her research her mother’s illness and did everything he could to support her as she dealt with the bad news about her.
That night, Sofia called Mom and Demian into the living room and confronted them.
“When were they going to tell me?” Sofia asked.
Sofia’s eyes filled with tears. She couldn’t believe Mom’s kindness and forgiveness of her after behaving so immature.
“Why do you think we’ve worked so hard for you to spend time with us, Sofia?” Damian sighed. “Your mother wanted to make things easier, find the right time to tell you, but you’re never home.”
Sofia wanted to yell at Demian, hate him for blaming her, but Mom’s look stopped her.
“I also wanted to spend as much time as I could with you,” Mom added. “Every second I have left, however long it is. But every time I reached out to you, you pushed me away.”
Fear ran through Sofia’s skin. “But there are treatments…”.
“They are too expensive.” Mom shook her head. “I’m afraid I have to do the best I can with the time God has given me.”
Sofia was not satisfied with that answer. The next day, she went back to pick up José after school and she arranged to meet her other friends at Cristian’s house.
“Why is the church organist here?” Cristian mocked.
“Because he is my friend.” Sofia punched Cristian’s shoulder. “And because I just realized that the church could be the solution to my problem.”
Sofia’s friends exchanged questioning glances, but when she explained her mother’s illness and the idea she had just had to help her friend’s mother, they all nodded.
“We will do whatever it takes to help your mother, Sofi.”
Cristian hugged her tightly. “Even though this is going to be weird.”
“Weird or not, this is our best chance right now.” Sofia had a fist bump with her other best friend, Andrea. “And José is the right person to connect us.”
“I don’t know, Sofia.” José bit his lip and looked at the ground.
“It will work, Jose.” Sofia lowered her head so she could look into her eyes. “It has to work”.
Over the next two weeks, Sofia’s plan came together little by little. That Saturday, they waited in a room adjoining the church social meeting room for her turn to perform on the small stage.
“I thought it was weird when we performed at that bar mitzvah, but this is so much weirder,” Andrea murmured.
“Everything is for the cause,” replied Cristian.
When it was their turn to play, Sofia approached the microphone. “Thank you all for coming here today,” she said. “As you know, all the profits from this concert go towards my mother’s medical treatment. You don’t know how much it means to me to see so many people here supporting her.”
The audience applauded, and Sofia stepped back, allowing Andrea to take her position. The audience was initially surprised when Sofia and her band began to play a rock version of a popular gospel song, but they soon joined her vocals with Andrea’s for the chorus.
Sofia smiled at Cristian, who greeted her with a quick nod as he played the bass. The fundraiser was a complete success.
Some time later, Sofia was sitting next to Demian in the hospital corridor. She moved her leg and slapped her thighs with her hands. When the doctor came out of Mom’s room, Sofia and Demian jumped up.
“He has responded very well.” The doctor smiled. “We will have it for a week to control it, but I think that from now on everything will go smoothly.”
Sofia was so happy that she turned to Demian and hugged him tightly. She then ran in to see her mother. Mom smiled at her and Sofia leaned down to hug her gently.
“I’m so sorry about everything, Mom,” he whispered.
“I took you for granted. I was so angry with Demian for invading our lives that I lost sight of what was important.”
“It’s okay, honey. The only thing that matters is that we’re together now, and we’ll have many more years to appreciate each other.”
Sofia’s eyes filled with tears. She couldn’t believe Mom’s kindness and forgiveness of her after behaving so immature. Guilt churned in her gut.
“Mom? Can we move game night to Saturdays?” Sofia asked.
A week later, Sofia and Demian decorated the apartment to welcome mom home. They had a quiet family dinner and spent the night watching a movie.
Saturday nights were game night, and Sofia didn’t miss a single one. When she got bored with Pictionary and Monopoly, Sofia asked José for help to liven things up a bit.
“So there are seven of these rare dice, and they all have a different number of faces?” Demian frowned at José’s Dungeons and Dragons dice game.
“You’ll understand as the game progresses,” José assured him. “It’s not really that complicated.
“Are you sure about that?” Mama looked at José over the top of the rule book. “Most rulebooks aren’t the size of a novel, you know.”
Sofia smiled and watched as José explained to Demian and Mom the basics of the game. She should have paid more attention, since she didn’t know how the game worked either, but seeing the excitement on José’s face and hearing Mom laugh at her made her the happiest girl in the world.
Months passed and soon mom’s birthday arrived. Sofía and José waited anxiously in the church hall for Demian and mom to arrive.
“Do you really think he’ll like it?”
Sofia ran the drumsticks through her fingers to burn off her nerves a bit.
“He will love it”. Jose smiled at him.
Sofia couldn’t help but smile. When José looked at her like that, her heart turned over and her belly filled with butterflies. She was about to move closer to him, perhaps to kiss him, when Demian walked in with Mom.
Sofia played the first chords of the song that she and José had composed for them. Soon José’s piano joined her. When José began to sing the lyrics they had written, Sofía and Mama looked at each other across the room. They were both crying.
What can we learn from this story?
Family is essential in life. Whether it’s the family we’re born into or the one we meet along the way, we can overcome all obstacles with the love and support of a caring family.
The time we spend together is the easiest way to show our love to others. As busy as our lives are, it’s critical to make sure we always have quality time to spend with the people we love the most.
Share this story with your friends. It may brighten their day and serve as inspiration.