The story is set in the U.S. No specific town is used except for Maple Boulevard which i don't know if it exists or not. But i am sure i've heard the name somewhere. I don't want to delve deeply into the plot and what not, as i don't want to spoil the story for you.
And for those that are not aware of this blogfeast, i suggest or rather insist you check it out here.
It's a blogfest with interesting prizes. And, i admire the cute turkey badge. I wonder where Erica got that from. I have forwarded my food which in my previous blog, i mentioned that it is Jollof rice and Spicy fried chicken.
Without further ado, here is my entry:
TITLE: BETRAYAL BY MAIL
With one flicker of the dust pad, the dust particles left the wooden framed portrait, Melanie Buchanan held in her lithe hands. The picture held a very special memory for her. Floods of nostalgic memories enveloped her mind, making her smile in the process. Her husband of almost two years had been drafted to Iraq, leaving her to literally raise their daughter, Amelia. Gosh! I’ve missed you so much. I can’t wait to hold you, my love. So much has happened since you left...
“Mummy, you promised to teach me how to weave Darlene’s hair” interrupted Amelia, her frizzy hair, shielding her face as she clutched a doll.
“Give me a second, baby”
The little girl trudged off from the bedroom. Melanie arranged the portrait, along with others in her carry-on suitcase for her trip to her in-laws for thanksgiving inclusive of eleven other military personnel under assignment. When Melanie had heard the news, she had been elated at the prospect of re-uniting with Craig. The electronic media had been awash with the news of the military personnel’s arrival.
During the meeting she had had with the other army wives at the barracks, a cake was prepared amidst sparkling champagne to celebrate with her...or so it seemed. Majority of them couldn’t contain their jealousy for the simple reason that her husband was the only one among them that was being sent back to the country, except for Sophia, whose husband had arrived a few weeks earlier.
Suitcase packed, she joined Amelia in the simply furnished living room. Grabbing the doll from her hands, she slowly began to weave the synthetic hair into braids.
“You put one here and loop the second one through here plus the third. See. Then you keep doing it over and over again.” she said, showing her how to achieve a weave. “Okay. I told you that we’re going to see grandma and grandpa today because its what?”
“Thanksgiving” answered Amelia
“Good. So we’re leaving and you can continue Darlene’s hair in the car.”
On the way to the Buchanan’s residence at Maple Boulevard SW, Melanie’s thoughts wandered, behind the steering wheel. For the umpteenth time, she checked the rear-view mirror to see if her makeup was in its proper place. Though, she hadn’t heard from Craig directly, the information she had received at the barracks was that Craig would be arriving at his parents’ home for thanksgiving. She hadn’t given it much thought why Craig didn’t communicate with her directly. She believed it did not matter as long as he was coming home.
The Buchanans which comprised of a middle-aged couple, gave her and her daughter, a warm reception. Half an hour later, Mr Buchanan was helping to push Amelia’s swing in the playground as the two women got down to business in the kitchen.
“I’ve already done most of the cooking before you came” said Mrs Buchanan, bending over to examine the turkey in the oven. She rubbed some seasoned oil on it and closed the oven door.
Melanie scooped some mashed potatoes into a casserole from a mixing bowl, grinning from ear to ear. Her mother-in-law observed her.
“Don’t worry, dear. He’ll be here soon. I can see how excited you are.” the elder woman said, assuring her.
“I do love surprises but I can’t understand why he hasn’t called me. But hey, if he did, then it wouldn’t be a surprise anymore, would it?”
“Let’s wait for Craig, okay. Please help me with the wine from the cellar”
The cellar was replete with aged alcohol from whisky to red wine. Remembering Craig’s favourite, she picked two bottles of 1950 Vintage whisky and glanced at the remaining forty or so left. She quickly added another under her arm, afterall, she and her husband deserved a private celebration in their room, when the ceremony was over.
Within minutes, the bottle was safely tucked under her mattress before joining her mother-in-law at the dining table. Mr Buchanan was inside, washing his and Amelia’s hands, in preparation for the meal. Melanie looked at the clock chiming on the wall. 4 o’ clock. Her senses began to go on red alert.
“He’s not here. Where is he? I truly hope he’s okay” she panicked, reminiscing on the video chats they previously shared on how he complained of the nights of bedlam, he experienced daily. “What if something happened to him?”
The couple exchanged glances.
“Why don’t I show Amelia our spider collection?” joked Mr Buchanan, dragging his grand-daughter along with him.
“Spiders! Eww” she replied, scrounging her face.
Melanie paced around, wringing her hands and momentarily biting her fingernails, ruining her newly manicured nails, in the process.
“Calm down, Melanie. He’ll be home soon” said Mrs Buchanan, helping herself to some whisky. She looked the picture of calm.
“Are you sure he’s really coming home? I mean, he...he should have called me.”
“You saw it for yourself on the news. Your husband’s picture and eleven men, totalling twelve in number. Besides he got in touch with me and he specifically said he’ll be here for thanksgiving”
“I’m so worried. It’s been about 5 years and I just...” she said, anxiety weighing her down as she broke into a sweat. Her armpits were glued in a sticky entangle with her cotton blouse.
“Here, have some. It’ll help calm you down”
Her mother-in-law poured some whisky in a glass and handed it to her.
Half an hour later, she was having a nervous breakdown until a car pulled up in the drive-way. Melanie jumped up to peer through the window. Two uniformed soldiers got down from an SUV and pulled out a wheelchair from the boot. The wheelchair was assembled before the car door flung open. A man, whose view was obscure, was assisted into it. Melanie covered her mouth as she backed away from the window. Mrs Buchanan kept silent, feeling sorry for her. The door opened, revealing Craig in the wheelchair, a sombre expression etched onto his face.
Melanie shook her head, the tears dripping down her cheeks and smudging her mascara, she had painstakingly applied.
“No” she screamed, running upstairs into a room and slamming the door behind her. She buried her face into the pillow, wailing, unaware that her mother-in-law had entered the room.
“Go away” she sobbed. “That is not Craig. I want Craig back”
“Oh, don’t be childish. Is that the reason why you ran away? You said it yourself that it’s been years since you’ve seen him and now he’s here.” She sat beside her on the bed and placed a hand on her back, caressing her. “He was ashamed to tell you of the injury he sustained in Iraq. You should be thankful, he wasn’t killed. Now, wipe those tears and come, embrace your husband”
After an extra coaxing, Melanie sat upright and dabbed her face with powder on the bedside table. Downstairs, Craig was chatting with his father, while Amelia sat on his laps. Craig looked up to see her, the sadness revealing itself in his brown eyes. He hadn’t shaved for a few days, though his hair had been cut low. Everyone watched her, waiting to see her next move as she stood frozen, looking at him and avoiding staring at his legs.
Craig handed Amelia to Mr Buchanan and wheeled himself close to her.
“Baby” he began
“Shhh” interrupted Melanie, crouching to hug him. The flood gates of tears bristled through both of them, their emotions at a fever pitch. Craig caressed her hair as he held her.
“I’m sorry I failed you. I couldn’t...” he said,
“No, I’m the one who’s sorry. I was the one that ran away when you came instead of supporting you. I’m so sorry. It was very stupid of me. Please, forgive me. I didn’t know how to react”
The Buchanans exchanged glances once more, each with a tear in their eyes. Amelia looked on. They decided to give them some privacy, aware of something dire to come in the future.
Craig held his wife’s face, clutching a few strands of blonde hair as he gazed deep into her blue eyes. Their hearts were competing in a beating frenzy.
“I’ve missed you so much. I can’t believe I’m seeing you in the flesh and not through a video. I have so much to tell you.” he breathed
She was about to speak when he planted a long kiss on her mouth. Her lips felt so soft, so succulent under his as he kissed them, teasing her mouth to open further. Gosh, its been so long since we’ve experienced this. He captured her tongue, conquering it. A moan escaped from her, as she thought of how so, so long she had been with her husband and the wonderful sensations that within her body. He was far from rusty as he made her shudder. A feeling of warmth flowed through her, emancipating her in the process. Someone cleared their throat, disengaging them slightly.
“The food is getting cold” declared Mr Buchanan, smiling mischievously. The two lovebirds reminded him of when he and Mrs Buchanan were very naughty, back in the day. “And Amelia is starving”
They smiled in response. Melanie wanted to push the wheelchair for him but he wheeled himself, instead. Mr and Mrs Buchanan again exchanged glances, communicating non-verbally to the other. Yesterday, they had had a heated argument about their son and daughter-in-law. If their daughter-in-law knew the real reason why her husband came home, it was going to be the end of their marriage. Sitting at the table, Mr Buchanan said grace.
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