Annabelle finds herself walking up to the school gates sniffling at the scents of unruly children running amuck with no parental supervision. Amongst those beasts is her child who sheepishly waddles up to her in the igloo looking coat Will bought her-against Annabelle’s styling wishes. The older woman lifts her collar against the harsh wind settling in as she holds out a fine leather hand. Jameson latches on and they walk to her Bentley. The other mothers stare with awe at the refinement of the respectable doctor who never wears torn leggings or spaghetti stained sweaters.
“How on earth do you do it?” One mother, Mrs. Robinson, asks one day, coming to hover beside the English woman. Annabelle forces a smile that is easily taking as sincerity before she shrugs.
“Do what?” she asks innocently emphasizing her accent. The peacocking display only draws the other mothers in as they begin to ask her questions.
“So you’re not a housewife?”
“No, I am a psychiatrist and a retired surgeon though I consult time to time with my husband.”
“He’s the handsome FBI agent right?”
Annabelle bites at this question with an aggressive ‘yes’ not trying to find her possessiveness. This only makes the other mothers laugh expectantly.
“Your daughter is so well trained. Uh, where do you get children like that?”
“I am just fortunate I guess.”
And she was.
Jameson, as it seemed, was not like other children. Beyond her mutism, she was a fluent reader and avid listener. What she lacked in mathematics, she gained in her sciences and language arts. The girl took a fairly keen interest in cooking often watching Annabelle with a memorized look as she cooked. The older woman often tasked her to help Will chop vegetables or set the table which she willingly did to show her usefulness. Such traits were permissible to Annabelle who rewarded the girl with lavish gifts of necklaces or dressed her in prim outfits.
“You’ll spoil her, Dr. Lecter.” Will said from behind her one evening as he wrapped his arms around her waist and nibbled at her ear. She leaned into his touch making sure to stir her lemon garlic sauce.
“My mother use to do the same thing.” She said in a hushed tone. Will kissed her neck tenderly. They stood there listening to the sizzling of the sauce.
“She loved having a girl.”
“I’m sure. It was someone to dress up with and play with like a doll.” He drawled in his southern accent. Annabelle laughed having forgot she was named after her great aunt’s finest doll in the collection: a strange beauty resembling her own fine porcelain features.
“You gotta admit you like having a girl around?” He laughed into her skin.
Annabelle hummed in contention not saying another word. She did, in fact, like it. Jameson never argued nor showed any sign of resentment when being dressed up to attend an event with them. They made quite a family.
“Oh Dr. Lecter, you are truly the emblem of women,” One of the mother’s, Mrs. Lawrence, laughs, “I dare say though it was probably easier to adopt than actually have a child.”
The comment leaves a chill in the air as eyes fall onto Annabelle who lifts her head high.
“Nothing comes easy with motherhood whether the child come from your own womb or that of someone else. It is the gift of a life and giving it that is important. A mother’s love is all the same.”
No one speaks for a moment before the silence is cut by a bell ringing and children’s voices rising in a chorus. All the mothers seem to approve of Annabelle who turns to see Jameson walking up to her with a smile. She looks curiously at the group of women before Annabelle scoops her up placing her to rest on her hip.
“If you excuse my ladies, my daughter and I bid you a good day.”
Mrs. Lawrence doesn’t get to even scoff before her boys rudely ram into her stomach leaving the other mother’s erupting laughter. Annabelle smirks as she unlocks the car before buckling the girl up.
Once she’s in the driver’s seat, they both remain silent, but the doctor watches the girl from the rear view mirror who’s smile never falters.