Jane Parker

June 6, 2008
Jane Parker would have obligingly said she loved coffee, but as a truthful lady she had to admit that she hated it. Not that it was too bitter, or too hot for her taste (there are many people who are too hot to drink anything near to heat), nor was it that she didn’t like the smell of coffee. It was that she just couldn’t sleep. One drop, just one drop, and it meant two sleepless nights. “Allergic,” had the doctor announced, looking pitifully at her. And now at the age of 60, widowed, and childless, people that surrounded her asked how in the world she had managed to live such a tough life without coffee to start the day. She had managed very well, thank you very much, although her regrets towards her life was sweeping her down into the deepest of depression these days.
Mrs. Parker did not look very old for her age. She did not have a crooked back, or much of white hair, and her wrinkles did not take over her just yet. If she had stopped anyone in the streets and asked how old she looked, they would 100% have said she was around the 50s. She was very thin, with pale, almost transparent skin, and her eyes were extremely blue, with a pointy nose. There was a hint in her face that would have been considered as extreme beauty a few hundred years back, but in the modern days she simply looked as a fragile piece of glass, an object that would break almost instantly if a soft breeze swept around her. Of course, Mr. James Parker loved her fragile looks and her elegant manner. In contrast to his wife, he had looked very much like a body builder, with huge muscles and broad shoulders. He had lived nearly all his life in the far countryside, and surrounded with seven younger brothers, a father who was often drunk, and a mother who tried hysterically to be the man of the house, James had been rather desperate in escaping his home, to the city where he could hide inside the crowds of people and be someone else. Although he had succeeded in being someone else, and had the fortune to marry a lady of the highest society, he had failed to live his life in peace, resulting into an early death.
Tears suddenly swelled in Jane Parker’s eyes as she was scrubbing the toilet seat. She quickly rubbed her eyes with the back of her hand which was covered with pink gloves, and hurried to concentrate back in the individual black spots on the toilet before any more thoughts came into her head. To be honest, her apartment was spotlessly clean, and there really was no reason for her to waste her time scrubbing and sweeping half of the day. But cleaning was all the occupation she had, and if she did not make herself busy she would have positively said she would turn mad in the small apartment. Of course, once a week, on Wednesdays, she had a yoga class just down the street that gave her a little view of the outside world. Because her house was at the top of the hill, she had a perfect view of the mountain, but not the village at the foot of the hill. The ladies there were all very much old like her, but the talks they had, about their husband’s arthritis, their children’s college or job, their cousins’ new marriage and so on was almost unbearable, and if she had not already paid for a whole year of the class fees she would have stopped going the very next week. But the money her dead husband had left for her was far from luxury, and so she bit her lip and went.
And it happened, that one evening after a particular annoying sermon from the yoga teacher about how women should manage their growing bottoms; she had stopped by a supermarket to buy some orange juice, and unconsciously pressed the button of a vending machine for coffee. Don’t ask her why she did it, because she has no idea either, but at that moment all the annoyance she had pressed all afternoon suddenly exploded, as she drank the entire contents of the paper cup in one gulp and threw away the screwed paper before turning towards home. As she walked to her apartment she slowly realized what she had done, and once she had inserted the key into the tiny keyhole for her door and entered her home, she gasped into hysterics of anger for doing such a silly thing just because she could not control her temper. Well, she certainly could not throw up all the ingredients in her stomach, and she certainly could not eat sleeping pills (she had seen in a documentary that it was very dangerous). So she had no choice but to sit and read or watch TV, waiting for the waves of agitation pass. Promptly at 10 pm she made her first effort to sleep, but with her eyes that kept fluttering open, and her arms and legs that was shaking with the effects of caffeine, it seemed pretty much impossible. And so the clock ticked away as she tossed and turned to find a solution, when from outside the open window a faint cry flowed into the pointy ears of Jane Parker. It was a strange mix between a cat’s cry and a terrible resemblance of a human’s, so horrifying and hair-standing that she jumped from her bed, took a cardigan lying on the sofa, and flew down the stairs to search the source of the sound. It seemed it was coming from near the garden, and as she searched and squinted in the dark, the faint cry came again, much weaker this time. She pulled back a particular bush, and there she found… “A baby!” she gasped, almost into a scream. The baby was pale with blue lips as if it was freezing, and its faint cries died out as it weakened every minute.
Jane Parker quickly brought the baby back to the house, and started throwing all kinds of blankets on him. Then she heated some milk, poured it into a bottle and waited until the baby was a little warmed. It was a boy, as pale and fragile as she had ever looked when she was a child. And so all that night she nursed the baby, without one speck of worry of falling asleep. Unlike her thought, she woke up in a jump, finding herself crouching next to the sleeping baby on the bed. “I must take him to the police I should. Report the parent for such behavior…” she muttered. But as she cooed the baby and held him in her arms, she thought again. If she took him to the police, they were bound to put him in an orphanage. That was certain. She looked down at the face of the child, so weak and frail. What would happen to such soul? All his life he would be wandering from here to there, without warmth or care or love. She looked at her hands, and into the mirror that reflected her confused and pinched face. Could she dare to take him as his own?
James had always wanted a baby boy. He had said it in almost a habit every day, saying what he would teach him, what he would tell him. She had miscarried 3 children all her life, until she knew she would never be able to have a child from her own body. And after the heart attack James had while he was in his office, she had lost all hopes. James had left a fair amount of money for her to live considerably her remaining life, but no love that she wanted ever since they married, a marriage so hardly managed and done. The lonely life she was having was unbearable, and the sudden light thrown into her was too much to simply let go. She knew she could take care of the child well; much of her part time work was as a governess. As she looked down at the baby’s smiling face, she knew her life would not be the same lonely, depressing life again. There was hope, and moreover, she had started to like coffee after all.

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