Melanie was feeling pretty pleased with herself. She was a little nervous, sure, but mostly relieved that this day had finally come. She’d been going out with Josh a while and had introduced him to her parents and the rest of the family ages ago, so long ago that he now joined in their regular family dinners. He’d never said “no” or refused to introduce her to his, it was more that he changed the subject, or made excuses. Finally, she’d had to sit him down and explain it made her feel he wasn’t truly invested in their relationship. So here they were.
Josh’s parents lived in a very prosperous part of town, one Melanie had never been to before. The houses were seriously big, ridiculously so to her eyes. Luckily, unlike some of the more in your face examples they’d driven past, this one was old, established and traditional in style. Out front, there was a wide expanse of porch, stretching round in front of the house’s two wings; a porch so large you could seat every single member of her extended family on it, with room to spare. Initially Melanie assumed there were just two stories, till Josh pointed out the roof windows as where he and his brothers had their rooms. It was early evening and the weather was starting to turn chilly. Although it wasn’t dark yet, the nights were starting to draw in. Still, Melanie thought it odd the porch was almost ablaze with candlelight, but persuaded herself it was simply a lovely greeting.
As Josh unlocked the front door, he pressed the doorbell and called out “we’re here”. Pulling the door behind them, he took her hand, looked her straight in the eye and said “I’m sorry, I truly am.” Before Melanie could react, she was swept off her feet by the biggest man she’d ever seen in her life. Undeniably Josh’s father – for the family resemblance was unmistakable – he was nevertheless a decidedly imposing figure. Josh was a tall guy, yet barely came up to his father’s shoulder. What was more disconcerting was the almost manic grin on his face. Having hugged Melanie so tight she could barely breath, he was now pumping her hand up and down with a crazy intensity, whilst calling out over his shoulder “Mother, mother, come quick, Josh’s girl is here!”
Deciding it was simple over-enthusiasm at finally having the chance to meet her, Melanie’s eyes were drawn to the woman now entering the room. Tall and slender, with skin so pale it was almost transparent, her fair hair hanging straight virtually to floor length, there stood the most beautiful woman Melanie had ever seen. Her dress a pale icy blue – she and it appeared to float aross the room in an almost unworldly manner. Smiling with her mouth but not her eyes, she held out a cool hand “You are most welcome to our home Melanie”. Having presented her cheek for Melanie to kiss, she turned to Josh with a smile that did reach her eyes and held open her arms “My boy, my own precious boy, it’s been too, too long.”
Later, sitting at the elaborate table, where the four of them were waited on by an equal number of staff, they were told that Josh’s brothers had been sent out for the night “so we can focus on getting to know Melanie”. These words were spoken in the same slightly manic manner Josh’s father had used in greeting Melanie. As the dinner went on, it was hard to decide what was more disturbing – the manic behaviour of Josh’s father, or his mother’s abrupt changes from chilly to adoring as the conversation switched between Melanie and Josh. Eventually she realised, it didn’t really matter, as what concerned her most was Josh. He was withdrawing further and further into himself.
Dinner finally over and one long, drawn-out departure later, Melanie took the car keys from Josh’s hands. Noticing how he’d been knocking the wine back during the meal, she’d barely touched her glass. Melanie’d tried to make light conversation, but Josh just stared out the window. Realising this was going to take a head-on assault, Melanie pulled to the side of the road and spoke sharply “Josh, turn around now and look at me. Now Josh, I mean it.” When eventually he’d complied with her instruction, Melanie’d taken his hands in hers and reached across to kiss him. “You were right. So very right. If I hadn’t already fallen madly in love with you, meeting your crazy Adams family parents would’ve scared me away. But luckily I have, so you’re stuck with me.” That’s when the old Josh had started smiling back at her. “It seems you’ve got the measure of my mad Mama. She cannot bear being thought of as a pale imitation of Mortitia Adams, so she gets especially riled when my father insists on playing the Gomez role. He’s going to be in so much trouble now we’ve gone …”
© Debra Carey, 2018