Day 4. The Character

Day 4: Think of two very different people you know. Invent a character who combines characteristics of both of them. Then put this character in a stressful family situation . . .

The Richardson family of Mayberry Lane was one of those rare extended families. Three generations ran around in that house and a fourth was on the way. Papa Richardson and his wife, affectionately called Mama Rich, had five children: Paul with son Paul Junior, Hanna and husband Rick had Jane and Jenna – twins, Carlyle was childless, Earl was deceased, and Mary Elizabeth had a daughter – Elise who was now pregnant. Chaos and mischief was expected, but their house was a massive structure which could accommodate more than the family that inhabited it at the moment. In a family this big with everybody holding their own, it was easy to get lost in the crowd, in the fracas that never ceased with this family.

Elise was the one exception. She was a home body, quiet, reserved, soft-spoken, and perceived as shy even though she had no difficulty meeting new people, making friends, or public speaking. Whenever she spoke, it did something to those listening, as if her voice would herald the end of the world. She delighted in the effect she had, and because of it, made no further efforts to speak. When she needed to talk, they would hear. She relished her solitude though, and always found a way to be alone.

She was married to Staff Sergeant Dave McDonald who went off on tour for the next 6 months. He thought it best she stayed with her family especially during her third trimester and the birth of their child since he wouldn’t be around. Reluctantly she agreed but she didn’t think she could consent to being bombarded by her family every second of every day. So she got away when she could, which was all the time, and they didn’t seem to miss her much either.

One fateful Saturday, which was exceptionally hot and humid, a heavy and bloated Elise sat at the kitchen table eating breakfast and reading from the newspaper. Slowly the family poured into the kitchen one by one, soon the chaos ensued. Paul Jnr and the twins were all over the place, hopped up on too much sugar Elise thought. Her aunts and uncles milled around talking about the news, the papers’ headlines, what happened last night, when Elise felt it.

The pain was so severe she immediately doubled over in pain. She didn’t cry out because that’s just not her. She sucked in a sharp breath and counted in her head. One, two, three . . . eight, nine, ten . . . nineteen, twenty . . . what was happening? she wondered. She opened her eyes and struggled to catch her breath, the pain still surging through her abdomen and back. Oh God. She sat upright and grabbed the table. Carlyle who sat across the table from Elise and was reading a page from the newspaper, glanced up to see pain written across Elise’s face.

“What’s the matter?” He whispered to Elise, also being somewhat of a quiet soul.

Elise shook her head while taking short sharp breaths rocking back and forth slightly. Carlyle cocked an eyebrow.

“What’s the problem with little Elise now?” Asked Paul who could see Elise’s tense rocking and breathing exercises.

“It looks like -” Carlyle started.

“Well spit it out Carl, not everyone’s got time for your lengthy monologues.”  Paul interrupted him in his usual big brother kind of way.

“I was saying . . .” Carlyle tried to answer but was interrupted again.

“Elise hunny, what’s the matter? Having gas? Need some tea? I’ll make you some tea.” Mama Rich shuffled over to the stove to start the kettle boiling.

Elise’s pain waned enough for her to mumble a polite no to Mama Rich who either ignored her or hadn’t put in her hearing aids this morning. It was barely a minute before the pain struck again. This time Elise felt a warm sensation run down her legs as her water broke. She looked down in amazement, panting due to the pains she felt. No one noticed the water pooling at her feet. Was it time? Elise thought she had another two weeks if her memory was correct. She rested her head on the chairs’ back and tried to focus her breathing. She had gone to Lamaze classes religiously considering this was her first child and she’d be going through this alone. She wished Dave was here, to calm her down, to remind her to breathe slowly, to rub the small of her back, to shut everybody up. Carlyle came over to Elise. He looked down and gasped at the fluid at her feet.

“Elise,” he breathed, “your water just broke.” He wasn’t whispering, however no one but Elise heard, since everyone went back to their own little conversations. Elise nodded, while hee-hee-hooing.

“Ah guys, I think its time-” Carlyle started.

“Time for you to spit it out already Carl.” Paul interrupted him again.

“You know what Paul, you can-”

“What Carla?” Paul taunted Carlyle.

“Don’t call me that!” Carlyle shouted, turning purple in the face. Several others laughed at that as Mama Rich tried to console Carlyle in his tantrum. The kettle started whistling with all the buzzing going on in the kitchen. That was the last straw for Elise.

Elise struggled to stand with her bloated belly and pain stricken back. “ENOUGH!” She bellowed, panting. “If anyone cares, I’m in labour. Carlyle will take Paul’s truck and carry me to the hospital.” Everybody stood still as Elise spoke. Her voice was barely audible above the whistling kettle but no one chanced a word while she spoke. “If you want to come you can organize a second ride but Carl and I need to leave now. And Mama, please turn off the kettle.”

“Huh, what did she say?” Mama Rich asked Paul who stood beside her.

With that Carlyle took her arm and helped her toward the garage. On their way out, Elise pointed out her go-bag already packed and waiting by the front door.

Two days later, Carlyle brought Elise home with a bouncing baby girl who everybody thought looked much like her father but was as quiet as her mother.

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