Part XVIII: Happy Once Again
Annalise had never before experienced the happiness of being referred to as a mother.
So, when the little girl called her ‘Mama’, Annalise had very nearly dropped her to the ground, her mouth open and gaping.
The child’s bright smile faded a little, as she added, “Did I upset you, Mama? What did I say?”
Annalise quickly recovered and shook her head, her smile coming back to her face. “No, no, child! Please don’t think that!”
“Is it because you’d never been a Mama before?” the child’s voice was so sweet and innocent that, even as she climbed the porch steps to go into the house, tears of pure bliss began to well up in her eyes.
Sniffing, she replied, “Is that what Aunt Rachel told you, child?”
The girl frowned slightly. “Don’t keep calling me ‘child’! I have a name, you know! And yes, Auntie Rachel told me!”
Annalise giggled at the little girl’s frankness. “Yes, child, you’re right… Oh, I’m so sorry… What’s your name?”
“Is that all? Do you not have another name?”
Little Laura’s eyes became downcast and she sighed. “Trent, but I don’t like it. It’s my father’s last name and he is very horrible to me!” With that, Laura began crying quietly all over again.
“Oh dear,” Annalise whispered under her breath in anxiety. She had, by now, reached the dining area; she sat the child down on a chair and settled down opposite her. “Do you want to talk about it, Laura?” she asked aloud.
“Well,” replied Laura, raising her head a little, “he was a bad man – he always beat me.”
Annalise was aghast; and although she tried her best to not show it, the tears that fell down her eyes betrayed her.
“Oh, you little thing,” she said, pulling Laura in for a hug, not really knowing what else to do.
They stayed like that for a while, till Laura’s shaking decreased considerably.
“Hey, Laura,” said Annalise. “Would you mind getting off and helping me in the kitchen? My husband would be back any moment now and the Dinner’s only half-ready.”
Laura’s eyes widened, in what can only be referred to as ‘shocked’. “Your…husband?!”
“Yes,” replied the young woman, a reminiscent smile forming on her face with the thought of her handsome man.
“Does he beat you, too?”
This question coming from Laura’s lips shocked the young woman at first; slowly, though, Annalise understood where she was coming from. She shook her head and said:
“No, child, he won’t – he never does! He takes the utmost care of me… never has anybody taken such a good care of me before.”
“You’re smiling,” observed the child, peering at Annalise curiously. “You like him a lot, don’t you?”
Annalise put her hands gently on the girl’s shoulder. “Laura, I love him.”
“How long have you been together?”
“We married same month last year.”
“And he’s been respecting you?”
The amount of knowledge the little one showed was incredulous to Annalise. At her age – perhaps four or five [though, little Laura looked eight or nine] – she had not even known so much about the world.
The child was intelligent, that was for sure. But, the fact that she had learnt all these lessons through a rough childhood was simply unthinkable – and Annalise despised such a thing. She felt the dire need to protect her.
Just as though she had been reading her mind, Laura said, “Mama, will you take me in? Will you take care of me like your own child?”
If Annalise had thought that being called ‘Mama’ for the first time had filled her essence with pure happiness, being asked to be taken care of was pure bliss!
“Of course, child, if that’s what you want!” said the young woman, fresh tears brimming her eyes.
“Yes, that’s what I want! I also want to know how having a nice Papa would feel like!”
Annalise was so overcome with happiness as well as distress for the wounded child, that she hugged her close to her heart, vowing to never let her go.
’And if Gale would be against this, then I’ll fight till he agrees,’ she thought with determination.