Part XX: Next Generation
Annalise Maria Watson looked through the living-room window as her adopted daughter, Laura, entered the front gate.
She smiled as she looked at her little girl, now all growing up and in her teens…it had been nearly ten years since little Laura had joined the her and her husband.
However, Annalise knew that there was something wrong…the atmosphere around her only child was reeking with unhappiness.
Her fears were confirmed when Bob, Rachel’s child next door, and same age as hers, came running in after her, shouting.
Annalise watched her daughter stopped short and turned around. Bob finally caught up with her and they spoke for a while, before Laura turned to walk towards the house.
Yes, there was definitely something wrong. Annalise frowned.
She thought, ’Should I go after her and ask her? No, I don’t think she’ll like that. I’ll have to pretend as if I didn’t know and let her tell me when she’s ready.’
With such thoughts in mind, she faced her daughter as she opened the door and entered.
“Welcome home, sweetheart!” greeted Annalise, cheerily.
“Um?” muttered Laura, lifting up her tear-streaked face.
“How was school to-day?” chirped Annalise, as she helped Laura take off her bag and shoes. This was routine – nothing out of the ordinary.
“Very, very bad,” responded Laura, voice shaking.
Annalise looked up at her, a frown of surprise forming on her forehead. “Why, child, what happened?! Did your teacher give you a detention?!”
Laura shook her little reddish-brown curls. “No, Mama… It’s Mike…from the next class! He always makes me looks bad in front of everybody!” She sniffed, as tears began flowing down her eyes – perhaps for a second time that day.
Annalise was moved: she put one arm around her daughter’s waist and reached up her free hand to wipe away the sorrowful tears.
“Michael Hudson, eh? Reminds you of your father?”
“Yes!” wailed Laura, more tears flowing down her normally rosy cheeks. Annalise wiped them away patiently.
“Well, child, you really can’t let him get at you, you know. You need to stay strong. You need to let him know that you’re not backing down – that’s who you are, aren’t you? You are Laura the Brave – just like Queen Merida in that movie!”
At this, little Laura instantly piped up. “Yes!” she exclaimed, eyes drying up and shining already. “I’m Laura the Brave, Queen Merida’s distant cousin!”
“That’s my Laura!” laughed Annalise, before hugging the child to her heart.
A few weeks after Laura had been found by Rachel and Annalise, the Watson couple had applied to gain legal rights over the child. The fact that her biological father had many lawsuits against him made their job easier. The local police had caught him red-handed with trying to cross the border with smuggled drugs in a truck.
And now, Annalise and Gale Watson were given the custody of Laura, mostly because the child chose to be with them.
However, there was still the problem of Laura getting used to Gale being her father. This, however, was solved in just a matter of days, when the little child witnessed how gently he treated the woman she came to regard as her mother.
Now, back in the present, Gale returned home earlier than usual; it was routine to spend an hour with his daughter every day, either playing or just talking.
That day, they talked.
If there was one thing that attracted Annalise the most about her husband, it was the fact that he was an excellent listener. Laura also loved this about her adoptive father.
The child was narrating the latest episode with Michael Hudson, the school’s renowned Bad Boy. In the end, she sighed and looked up at her father.
Gale had been looking at her with scrutiny, making sounds of acknowledgment whenever required. When the child looked up at him, he nodded his head.
“Well, your mother’s right, you know,” he said at last.
“But, how will I do that—stay strong?!” she wailed.
“All right. Now, if you badly want something in the store, what would you do?”
Laura thought only for a second before she answered, “Tell Mama I wouldn’t talk to her till she bought it for me!”
It was perchance an instinctive response, for her cheeks flushed with embarrassment as soon as she stopped speaking.
Gale chuckled – something that she loved to hear, more or less like his wife. “So, in other words, you show Mama who’s the boss, right?”
Laura’s little red eyebrows creased together as his words sank into her head. “Show Mama who’s the boss?” she repeated slowly, as if analysing each syllable. Then, her eyes widened as realisation dawned upon her. “So, Papa, you’re saying that I ignore him or not talk to him, till he stops teasing me?!”
Gale grinned proudly at his daughter. “Exactly!” he exclaimed. “You do understand that, don’t you?!”
Laura’s little red head bounced up and down in excitement. “Yes, I do, Papa! I’ll do that next time!!”
As Annalise prepared the bed that night, Gale entered the room.
“So,” she said, without looking up, “you gave her a ‘novel’ idea?”
Gale chuckled. “Is that the new word she kept saying she learnt from Bob Matthews?”
“Indeed!” Annalise replied, amused. She patted Gale’s side of the bed and walked over to sit beside him, as took off his shirt. “That was so nice of you, Gale.”
“Of course!” he replied, planting a kiss on her cheek. “We can do anything…as long as we’re together!”
“United!” added Annalise, as she leaned forward for a kiss.