Once their house tour was complete, Charles, Laura and Mr. Wickham walked out onto the pavement. While Charles shook hands with the contractor, Laura admired the house for the last time. After Mr. Wickham had left, Charles turned to look at Laura who was still gazing at the house. “Alright, we should head home now. Look it’s already six!”
But Laura insisted they sit down in the park beside their house, claiming she had sprained her leg while getting down the stairs, so she could hide her real intention of admiring her soon-to-be-home from afar.
And so they walked together, over to the park and sat on a bench, overlooking the creek.
Laura kept looking in the direction of the house and Charles couldn’t help but laugh.
“What?” she asked irritatedly.
“Oh geez. Thanks Laura! But I can’t believe you’re actually excited about moving here. I thought you hated this town.”
“I don’t care about the town really. I care about the house. It’s the house I’ve fallen in love with not this town! If I could, I’d pick the house up and place it in Windenburg. But since that’s practically not possible, I’ll pretend like we’re not surrounded by old and retired people.”
Charles laughed, “What’s with you and the old people, huh? Anywho, don’t forget, we’ve promised ourselves we’ll never pretend!”
Laura rolled her eyes and shrugged. “Oh puh-leese Charles, I need to pretend because I genuinely hate old people! And children! Look at these kids,” she puckered and pointed at the few children who were playing on the jungle gym. “…acting like hooligans, all of them. Oh geez, I can never imagine having a child of my own!”
That remark made his faint smile disappear. He felt like she’d stabbed him in the heart. Charles himself was very fond of children and had always dreamed of raising a big happy family. And Laura had always been a part of this dream, but after hearing her say that she disliked children, he was disheartened however, he did not lose hope and instead asked, “What’s there to not like about children?”
Laura sighed, “Well, it’s not really the children that I have a problem with, you know. It’s… it’s the fact that I’ll have to be a parent to that child and… I don’t know! I guess I can never picture myself being a parent.”
“But why not?” Charles asked, utterly confused.
“Well because I know I’ll be a horrible parent.”
“And what makes you think so?”
“Well it’s obvious, isn’t it? Like parent, like child! I will be a terrible parent because-” Laura stopped, looking away instantly.
“What, so… does that mean your parents were horrible to you?” But before Charles could get an answer from her, he heard someone call out his name from the distance.
“Uncle Charles!” said the voice of a little girl.
When he turned to look back, he was surprised to see Jolene, his niece. He sprang up and hugged the little girl as she ran up to him in excitement.
“What are you doing here alone?” he asked.
“No, look there’s mommy.” said the little girl, pointing in the direction from which she had come.
A moment later, the little girl’s mother, Cathy appeared from behind a tree. When she reached them, she smiled and greeted Laura followed by hugging her brother.
Cathy, her husband and her three children 8 year old Mike, 6 year old Jolene and 5 months old Toby lived in the adjacent neighborhood right across the creek.
Charles asked his sister what she was doing in this neighborhood and she informed him, that she had to bring Mike everyday for piano lessons and that the only place she could pass time was this park. Charles informed Cathy about their new house and she exclaimed stating she couldn’t wait to see it.
After the inquires, Cathy sat down beside Laura while Jolene pulled at her uncle’s sleeve and urged him to play pirate with her on the jungle gym.
The two ladies sat next to each other in silence for a while. It was Cathy who finally started the conversation.
Cathy said, looking in the direction of her brother who was busy entertaining his niece.
Laura only nodded and smiled.
“You know,” Cathy said, turning to look at Laura. “I really wanted to have a chat with you on Christmas eve, but oh boy! Toby wouldn’t let me leave him in the bassinet for even a minute! That child can be very fussy at times.” She shook her head, rolling her eyes in annoyance.
she asked excitedly.
Laura shook her head, and began awkwardly, “We haven’t, we’re thinking of delaying the-”
“Good.” Cathy interrupted her.
Laura looked at her in confusion, trying to make sense of what Cathy had said.
“Look” Cathy spoke again, “I’m only telling you this since you’ll soon be a part of our family…
When Laura nodded, Cathy continued, “I was only 23 when I got married, still young to know what I wanted from life. I had dreams but I gave them up for love; thinking my boyfriend would leave me if we didn’t seal the deal, you know. I got pregnant and by the age of 24, I became a mother. I had a ton of responsibilities on my shoulders and I couldn’t just run away even if I had the urge to. I just had to suck it all up.” She paused and exhaled softly, “10 years later, I’ve realized my mistake…
Laura nodded in agreement. Cathy continued, “So always stand your ground, Laura. Charles is really supportive and understanding, but I know him too well. He could do anything for family. And when it comes down to starting his own, he can get pretty emotional and even manipulative. He might even force you to do something against your will. But don’t get carried away by him. If there’s something you don’t want, be clear and stick with your decision until the end. Because if you don’t, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life; just like me” Cathy gave Laura a solemn smile and turned to look back at her daughter.
Laura had listened attentively and felt really bad for Cathy. But she was right and Laura agreed with every word she had said.
she told Cathy, assuring her that her advice was already being followed.
“Yes that’s great. And I’m glad Charles is supporting your decision…
Laura chuckled at her remark while Cathy looked down at her watch, then cried out saying she was late to pick up Mike from his piano lessons. Laura hugged Cathy before saying goodbye and thanked her for her advice.
After they had left, Charles walked up to Laura and sat down.
Laura laughed while Charles said,
To which he rolled his eyes. Then standing up, he insisted they return home.
“No let’s stay here for some more time. I’m really starting to like it here…” Laura said breathing in.
Charles laughed, and sat down again, placing a kiss on her forehead…