“Oh no, no, no, no, no, Sandra, don’t die on me now, babe. We still have a long way to go. You can’t die on me in this little town, who’s going to help us here, my love?” Emma Swan pleaded with her car, as it sputtered and came to a halt in the middle of a residential street. The wind was gusting, as big heavy drops of rain started falling on the hood of the car.
The darkness of the evening was already in full force and as she looked around, she found that a big white mansion was the closest house to her car, so she left it in a hurry, opened the little white gate and ran straight to the door, trying in vain not to get drenched. She rang the bell twice and sent a prayer to whichever deity was there, to let her get help for her car so she could get to the hotel and have a good night’s sleep for her job interview the following morning.
The moment the bell rang, she heard a baby start crying and cursed her luck. No parent who lived in that house would help her now. As she turned to leave, the front door was opened furiously and revealed a brunette woman with her chocolate hair dishevelled, wearing a gray cardigan and jeans, her eyes red of exhaustion and looking murderously at her.
“YOU BETTER BE ILLITERATE OR BLIND. HAVEN’T YOU SEEN THE EXPLICIT MESSAGE TO DO NOT RING MY BELL? I HAVE A THREE-MONTH-OLD BABY WHO’S NOW SCREAMING! I JUST PUT HIM TO SLEEP, YOU HEARTLESS STRANGER!”
Emma could feel the anger pouring from every pore of the woman and tried to formulate an apology, but the woman never gave her a chance to.
“IF YOU THINK YOU CAN WAKE MY BABY, THEN YOU CAN PUT HIM BACK TO SLEEP!”
She grabbed Emma’s arm and made her enter the mansion, slammed the door behind her - the damage was done already - and dragged Emma upstairs. She only let her arm go once they were in the baby’s room, who was still screaming at the top of his youthful lungs.
“His name is Henry, and you’ll only leave this room once he is sleeping again. No funny business, or I will call the police on you. Now get on with it!” The brunette closed the door on her way out, leaving Emma alone with the three-month-old screaming baby.
Emma remembered the nuns used to sing her lullabies and she tried to remember the lyrics of her favorite one. She took a deep breath and remembered the techniques she learned from her childhood. She then grabbed Henry. “Hey little man! What’s wrong with you? Did I wake you ringing that stu.... horrible bell? I’m really sorry!” Henry continued to scream, fussing his little legs and scrunching his chubby face, in a clear demonstration of pain. Emma turned him on his belly, his pink cheek resting on her right forearm, while her left hand made circular movements on his back, as she started to sing the lullaby.
Rock a bye baby, on the tree top,
When the wind blows the cradle will rock.
When the bough breaks the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all.
Baby is drowsing, cozy and fair
Nun Beth sits near in her rocking chair
Forward and back, the cradle she swings
Though baby sleeps, he hears what she sings.
Rock-a-baby, do not you fear
Never mind, baby, Nun Mary is near.
Wee little fingers, eyes are shut tight
Now sound asleep until morning light.
Rock-a-bye baby, in the treetop
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock.
When the bough breaks the cradle will fall,
And down will come baby, cradle and all.
Henry seemed to accept well the lullaby and stopped screaming at once, however, he didn’t stop moving uncomfortably. Emma continued to make circular movements on his lower back, as she supposed he may have been colicky. She didn’t dare to change his position on her arms, not until she was certain he was deep asleep, so she started walking very slowly around the room, as if showing the kid his own bedroom. Looking around, she confirmed what she knew the moment she stepped foot on the house: the family was wealthy, and she felt happy for the kid, who wouldn’t ever face what she had gone through as a child. Emma took a deep breath and tried to clear her thoughts. It was not the moment and most definitely not the place to mull over the past.
As she walked around, still humming the lullaby, she could see the beautiful furniture, the elegant baby blue wallpaper, a few stuffed animals and a shelf with some books, which, judging by the colors, were for children. As she walked, she stepped into a rubber duck and it squeaked, startling Henry into crying.
Emma groaned and started singing the same lullaby again. She couldn’t really understand how Henry’s mother left her with him and didn’t come back. Maybe she was tired, but where would his father be to help her take care of the baby? It was none of her business, but she couldn’t help feeling a little for the woman.
A few moments later, Henry seemed calm enough to sleep on his cradle and very slowly, she laid him down. Taking care to not step into anything else, Emma walked out of the room, and closed the door quietly.
She found Henry’s mom in the kitchen, waiting for her with two cups of tea on the island.
“I’m so sorry I disturbed Henry. I just needed…”
“I am sorry for screaming at you. I went outside and I found the message on the floor, it was impossible for you to have known.”
“That’s completely understandable. I’m Emma, by the way.”
“Regina. Nice to meet you.” Regina said offering her hand.
Emma gave a chuckle, but took Regina’s hand. “It’s ironic to say you’re pleased to meet me after I woke your baby.” The brunette laughed and pointed to the cooling cup of tea.
“I can offer you my apology with some tea. This rain isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Wait. You were saying you needed something.” Regina looked at Emma, finally observing the blonde in front of her. High boots, a skinny pair of jeans, a white wife beater and the most atrocious faux leather jacket she had ever laid her eyes on.
Emma felt Regina’s eyes on her, and blushed a little. “Yes, I just arrived in town and I was on my way to the bed and breakfast when Sandra died on me.”
“Who’s Sandra? What do you mean she died? Should I call the police after all?”
Emma laughed lightly at the brunette’s reaction. “Relax, Sandra is my car. She’s outside your gate. I’ve been meaning to get her fixed up, she’s been through a lot.”
“Oh, Sandra is your car ?” Regina was amused. “You’re going to have to wait for the storm to pass if you want to stay dry and warm.” Regina pointed to the window, the rain was falling hard on the panels. “Why don’t we wait for it to be over and I’ll call Mr. Tillman, the town mechanic, I’m sure he will be able to ‘fix up’ whatever is wrong with Sandra .”
Emma accepted the invitation and sat on the high chair.
“So, Emma. What brings you to Storybrooke?” Regina asked as she served herself another cup of tea.
“I got a job interview with the Sheriff department. I live in Portland, but I’m tired of the city. I know it doesn’t compare to Boston, but I’m looking for a more relaxed life. I work with the Police Department in Portland and I’ve informed my superiors I’m looking for a new job, so Captain Jones referred me to Sheriff Graham, and here I am.” Emma finished talking, and drank some more tea.
“And when is your interview? More tea?”
“Yes, please. It’s tomorrow. I came today so I could get a room at the B&B and get to know the town a little better. Judging by what I saw on the way, Storybrooke is exactly the place I’ve been dreaming to live in.” Emma smiled as she saw the proud look in Regina’s eyes.
“Ah yes, Storybrooke really is a great place to lead a quiet and peaceful life, especially for families and kids.”
“Yeah, well… I don’t think I will have to worry about that. I’m a bit of a … lone wolf.” Emma’s posture changed a little and Regina noticed it probably was a sore subject for her.
“I’m sorry to hear that. I hope you can forgive me.”
They fell into an awkward silence, and the sound of the rain outside distracted them for a moment.
“Henry is a beautiful baby. Congratulations.” Emma said.
“Thank you. He’s very colicky, I don’t know what else to do to make him sleep. That’s why I was so furious when you rang the bell. I had just managed to get him to fall asleep. I apologize once again for my behavior.”
“That’s okay, seriously. I always saw colicky kids being comforted by sleeping on their bellies. That’s how I could put him to sleep.”
“Have you taken care of kids before?”
“Yeah. I’ve taken care of a few in my time.” Emma smiled and drank more tea, to busy herself and possibly change the subject. The storm seemed to be calming down. “Do you think Mr. Tillman would be able to tow Sandra now?”
Regina looked outside and stood up. “I’ll get him on the line for you.” She called him on her cell phone and Emma listened for the one-sided conversation.
“Hello Michael, how are you?... Oh we’re great, thanks for asking. How are the twins? Oh I see. I can imagine. Sure. Anytime. Michael, I’m sorry to call you at this time, but I have a visitor form outside and her car broke down in front of my house. Can you tow her car to your garage now? No, no, she’s staying at Granny’s. Yeah, she was lucky it broke down before the storm. Yeah, she’s here with me. Her name is Emma….” Regina looked at Emma, her tone of voice giving away she didn’t know Emma’s last name.
“Swan, Michael. Perfect. We’ll wait for you. Bye.”
“Thank you so much for making the call. So, you mentioned Granny’s, is that the B&B?”
“Yes, and you’ll want to request a room with a view of the street. You’ll be able to overlook Main Street and the Library tower. Also, Granny’s pancakes are divine.”
“Wow, thank you again, Regina.”
“Would you like to check on Henry before Michael is here?”
“Yes.” Emma finished her tea and put the cup in the sink, beside Regina’s.
They went upstairs and Regina was pleased to see her son sleeping comfortably. A few minutes later, they heard Michael’s tow truck park. Emma and Regina left the house and watched Michael work, as he hooked up the old bug to the truck.
Emma thanked Regina once more and got a ride with Michael, who offered to drop her at Granny’s, with a promise to take a look at her car in the morning.
As the truck turned at the corner, Regina got her cell phone, checked the time, and called the Sheriff.
“Graham, I ran into your prospective Deputy. You’re authorized to hire her.”
“She has good recommendations and a good background on the force, Madam Mayor. I’m glad you approve of her.”
“Yeah, I’ll see you tomorrow in the afternoon, after your interview with her.”
At Granny’s reception, Emma was led to her room, with a view for the street as requested, and was informed about the breakfast times at the diner. As the old lady left, Emma changed into her pajamas, a faded police academy t-shirt and flannel bottoms, and looked through the window. At night, Storybrooke didn’t offer much illumination or noises, and Emma couldn’t be happier with that. She smiled, thinking about a new chapter in her life that could become a reality if she did well in the interview.
Sat in her bed with the cellphone in her hands, she couldn’t stop thinking about Regina and baby Henry. She hoped he kept on sleeping a few more hours, to give his mom a break.