27 Camomile Crescent - Sarah & Sean
Sarah Wright smiled at the photograph of her daughter Melanie, dressed up as a Cabbage Patch Doll for the school annual Halloween competition. She was eight if memory served her correctly. Some of the children didn't understand why she had chosen to be a Cabbage Patch Doll because it wasn't scary. But to Melanie it was. They had always been the scariest thing ever created according to her.
That was ten years ago. Melanie, daughter to Sarah and Sean Wright, was now an outgoing, vibrant and extremely doted upon only child. She still held a - self-confessed completely irrational - fear of dolls. Sarah had always felt that because she was only able to have one child she had been blessed with an amazing one. Melanie was intelligent, pretty but very sensible for a teenager.
She had never brought trouble to their door. She had maintained good stable friendships, never veering off with 'the wrong crowd'. Most importantly, had a firm view on how she wanted her life to go. For Sarah and Sean it was the ideal scenario. She wanted to finish her A-Levels and go travelling around Europe for three months before embarking on her degree course. After University Melanie then planned on teacher training and a career as a Physical Education tutor. Sarah secretly hoped that Melanie would be able to get a job at The Academy and would either live at home, or at the very least, close by.
Sean had suggested that travelling was for the year after graduating University, when she was older. But Melanie had been set on the idea. Sarah had discussed with Sean how grown up Melanie was for an 18 year old. She also pointed out that she had given her all to her A-Level courses for the last two years, and probably needed a good break. They had to encourage hard work, but needed to show reward for it as well - and it was what Melanie desperately wanted. Sean had pondered this and had to agree.
Melanie worked every weekend at a fashion shop in the local Shopping Centre. She took extra shifts every holiday to save additional monies for her trip. She had planned it meticulously for months with two of her other girlfriends, and had even been agreeable to have the journey and accommodation choices approved by the parents.
Melanie had always had a very grown up outlook on life, which had been a pleasure for Sarah. She had always believed it was because Melanie had, more often that not, been in the company of adults as she was growing up. The family had very few children within it. Of course she had friends at play-groups, but on a general basis life was just Melanie, Sarah and Sean.
Even at nursery Melanie had been described as 'Mothering' to the other children. If someone needed a tissue, she would fetch it. If someone was hurt, she would comfort them. It was the actions she experienced most herself, so it was no real surprise to Sarah. As devastated as the couple had been to discover they could not have anymore children, they were grateful for having Melanie. They decided early on that they must give her every opportunity they possibly could to have the best in life. For Sarah, everytime Melanie achieved something or started on a new phase of something - even the terrible twos - Sarah embraced and treasured it knowing this was her one and only chance to experience it.
Sarah had decided on being a stay at home mother and had worked hard at starting Melanies education before she even got to school. She researched the best play methods, home learning tools and positive reinforcements techniques. Sarah and Sean had decided to enrol Melanie into the small school at the end of Camomile Crescent. Despite it's poor reputation Sean fiercely believed that if a child was adept to learning and doing well they could do it anywhere. When Melanie had started her secondary education Sarah had decided to start volunteering in the local primary school, hoping she could have a positive effect on other children and started off helping with one to one reading in classes.
Then the major overhaul of Melanies school into 'The Academy' had occurred and Sarah was secretly delighted. Melanie had been excelling already. The new environment and teachers, Sarah believed, could only enhance that. Sarah herself in the meantime, had gleaned an excellent reputation for her penchant to help children to read and write. Her services had been snapped up by The Academy. She opted for the Primary School so as not to cause Melanie any embarrassment - afterall who wanted their mother encroaching on their school space. She didn't want Melanie to feel inhibited in anyway, she understood she had to be free to develop her own world. But it was pleasing to Sarah that she could subtly keep an eye on her.
She turned the page of the large photo album and was met with various snaps of Melanie holding trophies. Swimming. Athletics. Netball. All such proud moments. Now Melanie was fixated with Triathlon. Sarah wasn't sure where she got her ability for sport. It certainly wasn't from herself or Sean. She was pleased though and was sure that Melanies focus on sport had been a huge factor in keeping her away from the urges to try underage drinking and clubbing. Most weekends she had a competition or training schedule of some sort. This coupled with her part time work, she didn't have the time or energy to go out. Sarah had to admit, she had been the envy of many of the parents she knew as they all suffered through many a rebellious phase with their teenagers.
Melanies biggest vice was shoes. Sean often commented that with the amount she owned she could open her own shoe store. They had converted the smallest bedroom of 27 Camomile Crescent, into a walk-in wardrobe for Melanie for her 18th birthday. The most elaborate and costly part was a fabulous shoe storage unit that Imelda Marcos would have been proud of. Being forced to choose only a limited number of shoes to take travelling had been a tough ask for Melanie.
Sarah had omitted to tell Sean that Melanie had called and asked if she could arrange for a trunk of purchases to be shipped home. She decided if she told him that then she would have to explain about the credit card she had given her. He believed that the trip should be a learning experience, including budgeting, but Sarah couldn't have slept at night if she wasn't assured Melanie had a financial back up. When Melanie had arrived in Italy a few days into her trip, she had called Sarah and asked if she could use the card to pick up a few 'soverniers'. Sarah had been pleased that she had called to seek approval and because of that had agreed. She had made many phone calls to the courier company to ensure that it was delivered whilst Sean was at work and had unpacked it and disposed of the packaging at the recycling plant before he got home.
Sarah closed the photo album and placed it carefully back in her wardrobe. She straightened her pristine, white duvet cover free of wrinkles and went across the hall to Melanies room. She opened the door, as she had done every night since Melanie had been born and breathed in the scent of the room. There wasn't really a scent as such now as Melanie had not been in there for almost three months. So, every now and again Sarah had sprayed one of Melanies perfumes, but it wasn't the same.
She walked in and plumped the cushion on the bed with 'Mel' embroidered on it. She moved the photo frame with the picture of Melanie and a group of her friends a centimetre to the left, then back to the right. Melanie had chosen a bold, hot pink feature wall opposite the bed and she and Sarah had chosen a selection of photographs of special events and achievements to have enlarged, framed and put up. Sean had been reluctant to put them up, given the cost of the paint that Sarah had insisted upon, but had agreed that it was important to surround Melanie with a positive environment. What could be more inspiring than being reminded of how well you had done so far in life Sarah had reminded him.
Now however, was the last night that the room would be minus Melanie. Well, until she went off to University in a week or so. Sarah was a mixture of excitement, that tomorrow they would be picking their baby up from the airport and sadness that she would only get a week to listen to all the wonderful stories she would have to tell. Then they would be taking her off for the new era in her life. She was beyond proud however. Melanie had achieved her predicted five A-Grades in her A-Levels. Sarah had been thrilled that Melanie had asked her to go and collect the results from The Academy for her and that she had been the one to deliver the news. She joked to Sean that the level of screaming could be heard all the way from Spain, she didn't need to hold the phone to her ear.
In a little over a week Melanie would be starting her Sports Science degree at the top university in the country. Sarah knew it would open so many doors for Melanie. She truly felt that she and Sean really had done the very best they could for her and for that she was proud of them all. She glanced at the corner in the room where she had packed all Melanies things for University neatly in boxes. Sarah had undertaken the task over the summer so that they could just enjoy a relaxing week as a family on Melanies return, without stressing over what was needed for University. Melanie had emailed a list over whilst she was travelling through Russia and Sarah had worked tirelessly to get the exact items she had requested. She had also bought her a new, top of the range hot pink laptop as a surprise. Sean would be surprised at that too but she would worry about that later. She hoped he would be so thrilled to have Melanie home he wouldn't care.
She backed out of the room giving it one final glance to ensure it was perfect. As she closed the door to Melanies bedroom she heard the front door open.
"Honey...I'm home!" Sean called jokingly as he always did. Sarah walked down the stairs and greeted him with a smile. Sean was tall and had once been lean, but after years of Client entertaining and good home cooked meals was now more of a 'stockier' physique. Sarah thought that this suited him more.
"How was your day?" she asked, as she always did. Sarah herself was tall and this helped her carry the little extra weight she found was not shifting since she had hit her forties. It didn't concern her, she was confident enough to know that was part of getting older. She was constantly told that she didn't look her age. She tried to ensure that she kept her hair well cut and had been lucky with her fair colouring not to have needed any assistance with it until the last few years. She tried to keep up to date with fashion, without going over the dreaded 'mutton dressed as lamb' line.
"Good, good." he replied hanging his jacket up and placing his briefcase on the floor "Bet today dragged for you didn't it?" He knew she had been counting down the days to Melanies return.
"I kept myself busy, I did an extra afternoon over at the Library." She followed him into the kitchen. She checked on the casserole in the oven, Melanie didn't care for casserole so she thought it would be nice to make it for Sean as a treat while she was away. The smell that escaped from the oven created a smile on Sean's face.
"Mmmm my favourite." he said peeking in at the bubbly gravy dish "I am a lucky man." He hugged her from behind and kissed her on the cheek "Drink?" he asked heading for the under-counter wine fridge.
"Love one." She replied "Well it won't be on the menu for the rest of the week while Mel's back." She said stirring it and closing the oven door "I was thinking maybe we could take her out to dinner tomorrow night, if she has the energy of course - she might be feeling a bit you know, down, that her trip is over."
"Down?" Sean said, perusing the wine choice before him "She's just been on a jaunt around Europe for three months and is off to University next week, what has she got to be down about?" He stood up smiling at the bottle he held in his hand "Perfect." he stated.
"The fact that she is no longer on her travels," Sarah replied. "I thought if we went to that lovely new Italian on Cross Street it might make her feel she has an extended day of Europe."
"OK." Sean agreed opening the glass fronted kitchen cabinet, pulling out two wine glasses. "If that's what you want."
"Yes. I think that will be a lovely first night back together. Well, if it's what Melanie wants." Sarah corrected herself.
For previous installments of Camomile Crescent please click here.