With the threat of being unable to work with the new addition to her family, Melanie decided to bite the bullet and called for reinforcements in the form of her mother. Now, these two ladies didn’t always see eye to eye! Stelle, her mother, was more of an old-fashioned kind of gal, set in her ways and far too old to try and change now. Melanie, on the other hand, was far more relaxed when it came to how things used to be versus how things are these days – for example, having children out of wedlock. Stelle could never imagine such a thing, but it wasn’t so uncommon in Melanie’s circle.
With Stelle around to help out with the chores and teach her daughter how to properly care for a newborn, life was a bit easier and Melanie didn’t have to worry so much about missing work. She didn’t take family leave, despite her boss’ wary questions about if she was really okay to keep working, but she was adamant that she was more than okay and she was. Work helped her forget about the newborn growing in her stomach, the relationship that she had gotten so into now broken beyond repair, and the fact that her mother was now back under the same roof. The first couple of days were fine, but with the hormones of pregnancy raging within her, it wasn’t long before she broke down.
The sound of sobbing led Stelle into the kitchen, where she found her daughter crying into the mac and cheese. She was tempted to say something about how the dish was steadily beginning to blacken, but she held her tongue and focused on her child.
“Melanie, whatever is the matter?”
“Well it certainly doesn’t look like ‘nothing’ to me!”
“I don’t want a child! I’m not ready to be a mother. I don’t want to be a mother!”
“You should have thought about that before you slept with that delinquent without using protection.”
While the words were full of truth, they did little to comfort the sobbing woman. She already felt like a fool for falling for his charms and for being so irresponsible, but hearing someone else say it to her only made her feel ten times worse. Stelle held back her sigh, turning the knob on the stove before trying to put her arms around her daughter but Melanie took a step back.
“I’m sorry, Melanie. I shouldn’t have said that.”
“No, you shouldn’t have. And I shouldn’t have met that idiot or slept with him. I shouldn’t have this child!”
“Surely, you don’t mean… you’re going to get rid of the child?”
“I… I don’t know!”
Stelle could only frown as her daughter rushed from the room, the sound of her bedroom door slamming closed a moment later. Finally releasing her sigh, she got to work cleaning up the burnt food within the pan.
The next morning, Melanie was awake early, getting ready for work and doing her best to hide her puffy eyes with makeup without looking like she just stepped out of the circus. She was about to get changed when she heard a gentle knock on the front door. It was so soft that, at first, she wondered if she had imagined it but then it happened again a moment later.
Curious, she headed to the door to find a strange man at the door. She stepped outside to greet him, asking if she could help him.
“Hello my dear. I’ve just moved into the neighborhood and wanted to come by and say hello.”
She glanced around the neighborhood but didn’t see any moving trucks, nor did she remember seeing anyone moving in, but why would he blatantly lie about such a thing?
“Oh, well welcome to the neighborhood. My name is Melanie Sears, and you?”
She held her hand out to him and he hesitated before slowly grabbing it. His skin was sickly pale compared to hers and cold to the touch. This struck her as odd because it was spring and not the least bit cold. Still, she was not raised to be rude unless someone else was rude to her first.
He smiled, the corners of his lips slowly sliding upward.
“Vladislaus Straud. The pleasure is all mine, Melanie Sears.”
He brought the back of her hand to his cold lips and goosebumps rose across her skin so quickly, she had to suppress the shiver that nearly went through her body. She wasn’t aware of it, but he inhaled sharply before pulling away from her hand, taking a step back from her.
“I must be going now. Farewell for now.”
And then he bowed before turning around and heading down the sidewalk, disappearing around the corner. Shaking her head, she returned to the comfort of her small home, making sure to lock the door behind her. She couldn’t help thinking about what a strange encounter it was, but as soon as she was stepping out the door once more, dressed and ready to work, all thoughts of the strange man left her mind.