Melanie sat at the table, lost in thought. She felt like her life was taking unexpected turns, and she couldn’t help but reflect on the choices she had made. It all started with Mrs. Goulder, an old woman who used to live in the village. Melanie had been married to Mrs. Goulder’s grandson, Charles, and had inherited the old woman’s house when Charles passed away.
One day, while Melanie was curling her hair with rollers, she heard Mrs. Goulder’s voice. “Melanie, my dear, isn’t it time for you to eat something and have a cup of tea?” the old woman had asked. Melanie was preoccupied with her appearance, with cosmetics scattered all around her. “I don’t have time. I’ll feed you later. And I didn’t cook anything. If you like, there are some cheese sandwiches over there,” replied Melanie, with a touch of irritation in her voice.
“I don’t want these, they’re stale. But I do want something to eat,” said the elderly woman. Melanie, clearly frustrated, told her to go to her room and promised to bring her some tea. The woman sighed heavily and made her way to her room, leaning on her cane for support.
As Melanie continued with her activities, the phone rang. It was her friend Ellen, who she greeted and wished happy birthday. Ellen invited Melanie to meet her at the restaurant, Olympus, at six o’clock. Melanie agreed and said she would call a taxi, still feeling annoyed.
Ellen noticed her friend’s tone of voice and teased her, asking why she sounded like an old woman. Melanie vented her frustration about the elderly woman she was living with, saying she was driving her crazy. Ellen suggested that Melanie should let her go and find some distant relatives or send her to a nursing home.
“She has no one, maybe some distant relatives, but she doesn’t know them, and she’s never talked to anyone. So, she’s hanging around my neck. And how can I send her to a nursing home? It’s her house, not mine. Charles was stupid and didn’t think of transferring the house to his name. Now I’d be the owner and wouldn’t have to deal with a 90-year-old woman,” Melanie sighed in disappointment.
“That’s strange,” Ellen commented. “She has no daughter or grandson anymore, but she’s still alive, old hag.” “Hey, is it true she’s from a noble family?” Ellen asked. “Yes, Charles told me something like that, but who cares now,” replied Melanie. “Yeah, you’re right,” agreed Ellen. “But it turns out you’re a noble woman by your husband now too. It’s so funny, you’re almost a lady.”
“Okay, enough teasing. Tell me better, did you invite any of the guys? All the peasants will be at your feet, my lady. Just don’t be late, or they’ll all be taken,” Melanie laughed again and said, “Don’t worry, I won’t be late. But I don’t want peasants. Choose someone more decent for me. Keep the best one for me. By the way, I can recommend Peter. He’s a lawyer who deals with all kinds of transactions and civil cases. He has his own notary company, and he is, so to speak, looking for someone special.”
“Super, Alan. He’s mine, I have no doubt about that,” said Ellen, ending the conversation. An hour later, Melanie left for the city in a taxi, not thinking about Mrs. Goulder, who was lying on her couch in her little room, quietly crying from homesickness, loneliness, and hopelessness.
Two weeks passed, and during all this time, Melanie couldn’t figure out how to get rid of the annoying old woman and move to the city. She was unable to stand the village where her husband had brought her. Although he loved his grandmother too much, Melanie had other plans. Finally, she came up with an idea and posted an ad for selling the house everywhere.
Mrs. Goulder found out about it a few days later. All this time, Melanie cooked delicious meals for her, fed her herself, and was generally very caring. Then one day, Melanie started talking about wanting to move to the city. “How long can you live in this village? Let me find us a good place to live in the city. There are hospitals nearby, and the conditions are good. What do you need here for? Are you taking me with you?” Mrs. Goulder asked.
“Of course, where would we be without each other? Now, Charles was my husband and your grandson. His memory unites us. But, Mrs. Goulder, would you sign a power of attorney for me so I can handle this house as soon as possible and not bother you?” Melanie requested.
“Okay,” the elderly woman nodded and put her signature where necessary. “Homes don’t sell quickly,” Melanie said. “Of course, we’ll have to wait.” But she didn’t mention that she had already found a buyer, and the deal should be finalized soon. However, the buyer was surprised by Melanie’s answer when she asked why the house was sold so cheaply.
“It’s simple. Mrs. Golder is my late husband’s grandmother and the only one left from his family. It seems like God has forgotten about her. I want to live in the city and build my personal life. I don’t want to drag an old woman with me. And it’s good for you too. She hardly ever leaves her room, so if you’ll give her some soup, you won’t lose the deal. And when she dies, the whole house will be yours. I’m not trying to convince you. You’re not the first one to call me, which means I’ll sell it for sure.”
“No, no, I don’t mind. I don’t mind the old lady living here. It’s just kind of unusual. By the way, does she know the terms of the sale?” asked Rebecca. “Of course she does,” Melanie assured her.
“All right, Rebecca. Let’s not get emotional and talk too much. Yes or no?” Melanie proposed. “Yes, all right. Tomorrow, I’ll come. We’ll sign everything, and you can move in.” “Okay, it’s a deal,” they concluded.
Early the next morning, Melanie left for the city, telling Mrs. Goulder that she was going on business. “And when will you be back?” asked the elderly woman. “I don’t know,” Melanie shrugged her shoulders and left, closing the door tightly behind her.
Mrs. Goulder, who had been dozing, was awakened by children’s voices well past noon. She opened her eyes and saw a boy about five years old before her. “Are you our grandmother now?” he asked. “My name is Alex, and this is my brother Nolan. And our sister Lisa is with our mom. She’s little.” Not understanding anything, the elderly woman sat up and rubbed her eyes.
“How can I be your grandmother? Who are you, and how did you get here?” she asked. “We bought you,” declared Alex. “So, you’re ours now.” At that time, a woman in her thirties appeared in the doorway. She was holding a little sleeping girl in her arms. “Hello, my name is Rebecca. Has Melanie told you about me?” she asked. “No,” Mrs. Goulder shook her head.
“Oh, I see. Well, we’ll have a long conversation,” Rebecca said, turning to her sons. “Alex, Nolan, stay in the next room, please. I need to speak with this elderly lady.” “All right,” agreed the boys and ran out of the room. Rebecca then explained who she was and how she had bought the house. The elderly woman listened carefully and shook her head. “What a disaster for him and this restless wife. Douglas is a very good man, but his wife Patricia was a loose woman.
He loved her madly, but she married him to get back at her city lover. He abused her and left her, but Douglas picked her up. He put up with all her whims. And when she got pregnant and gave birth to his daughter, he was over the moon with happiness. But not for long. Patricia ran away with her ex-boyfriend to the city, leaving her husband and daughter behind. She left a note, and that was it. No shame, no conscience. What a nightmare,” Rebecca was horrified.
Rebecca was horrified by the story and asked, “How do you know all this?” Mrs. Goulder replied, “My dear, we live in a village, and everyone knows everything about each other here. And my grandson’s wife, Melanie, was the first gossip. She knew everything.” After that conversation, Rebecca checked on the children in the kitchen, saw that they were calmly having lunch, and hurried outside to find Douglas and tell him that his daughter was safe. She did it just in time because as soon as she turned the corner, she ran into a man running down the street.
“Are you Douglas?” Rebecca called out to him. “Yes,” Douglas replied. “Hello, I’m Rebecca, your neighbor. Kelly is with us. Don’t worry, everything is fine with her.” Rebecca hurried to reassure him and explained how his daughter had ended up in her house. “Let’s go to our house, I beg you. Have some pie or have some tea, and then you can take your daughter home.
Thank you, Rebecca. I never leave her alone, but they called me from the office to sign some documents urgently. The neighbor who sometimes watches her was not at home, so I thought that if she played in the yard alone for 10 minutes, nothing would happen. And I was wrong. It happens. I have three children, so I know how difficult it is to keep an eye on them. So, are we going to have some tea? Do you have a minute? It’s a bit inconvenient,” Douglas said.
“Stop it,” Rebecca smiled. “By the way, my boys seem to have made friends with your daughter. So, if you ever need anything, you can bring her to us. I’m a teacher by profession, used to dealing with children. And with my three, one more or less won’t make a difference.” Douglas laughed. “Well, if that’s the case, after becoming friends.” Rebecca and Douglas spent a lot of time together and eventually decided to get married. Their strong and friendly family led a happy life that was the envy of the village.
Several years passed, Mrs. Goulder became bedridden, and Rebecca became her primary caregiver. Rebecca cared for her as if she were her own grandmother, but she could give her nothing but care. One day, Mrs. Goulder called Rebecca over and weakly pointed to a chair. “I’m dying, my dear,” she said. “But don’t cry. I’m old and tired of living. Thank you for brightening up my old age. I was afraid that Melanie would kill me or put me in a nursing home, and then God sent you.”
“Come on, Grandma,” Rebecca tried to comfort her. “Don’t interrupt me. Wait. Do you remember when I told you that I was a hereditary noblewoman? It’s true, but I have a secret that no one knows about. I wanted to take it to my grave, but I feel grateful to you. You have young children, and Douglas’s daughter is counting on you. You need money. In short, I inherited some jewelry from my grandmother. I rarely took anything from there, only when I was really in trouble and for my son’s funeral. There’s a floorboard in the basement, under the shelves. Lift the third board, and you’ll see everything. I wish happiness to you, my dear.”
Rebecca pressed her hand to her mouth and shook her head. “Grandma, you could have sold it and been treated at the best hospitals.” Mrs. Goulder laughed softly, then sighed. “What are you talking about, my daughter? How old am I? No matter what treatment you get, you have to die. My loved ones are waiting for me up there in heaven. I dream about them all night. But you live, sweetheart, and thank you for everything. God gave me peaceful years in the end. Now please go and call Reverend Smith. He promised to come when I needed him.”
On that same night, Mrs. Goulder passed away. Rebecca and Douglas gave the old woman a worthy funeral, organizing everything properly. They stood by the fresh grave for a long time, thinking about the strange human fate that brings together and separates completely unfamiliar people on its paths and makes them family. Rebecca didn’t immediately decide to tell Douglas about the secret that Mrs. Goulder had entrusted to her.
Rebecca was conflicted. She didn’t know if it could be true. “You know, I’m scared for some reason. I would say it’s unusual. I never thought I would be lucky enough to see a real treasure with my own eyes. Let’s go, let’s see.” Mrs. Goulder didn’t deceive them. Precious stones in jewelry were shimmering with unreal sparkles in the flashlight’s light. “What are we going to do now?” Rebecca pressed her palm to her lips in panic.
“We’ll have to think,” Douglas nodded and smiled. “Thank you, Grandma. She left a royal gift for us. Who would have thought?” Rebecca nodded and hugged her husband, unable to hold back her tears.
Meanwhile, Melanie was living in the city in her own apartment, which she had bought with the money from the sale of Mrs. Goulder’s house. She didn’t remember the elderly woman at all and thought only about how to marry Peter. At first, he had promised her this often, but lately, they had been seeing each other less and less, which couldn’t help but worry her.
It was true that he had invited her to a restaurant in the evening. Maybe she would finally win, and he would propose to her. Another chance for happiness was unlikely to come to her, so she needed to hold on to this one with all her might. Melanie approached the mirror and looked at her reflection for a long time, touching the wrinkles around her eyes and the corners of her mouth.
Then she took out her best outfit and began to get ready
. Two hours later, she was already sitting at the table, waiting for Peter to say something to her. She lifted the glass to her lips and took a few sips, then put it aside and closely looked at Peter. She couldn’t bring herself to start the conversation that was bothering her, and Peter calmly ate his dinner, paying no attention to her.
“Peter,” she finally couldn’t take it anymore, “did you invite me to the restaurant to be silent?” “No, to have dinner. By the way, why aren’t you eating anything?” he replied, seemingly unperturbed. “Hmm, well, okay. You know, I heard an interesting story today. A woman sold a house along with the old lady who lived there. She deceived the woman, signed some papers, and, so to speak, went to the auction with her house.”
“What?” Melanie turned pale. “Nothing. I was just amazed by such an act. I know that many people, when they move, abandon their cats and dogs, not wanting to take them with them. And the pets sit and wait for these traitors for years. But those are pets, and this is a person, alive, saying and understanding everything. Can you imagine what it would be like to be in that old woman’s place? A vile act, isn’t it?”
“Why are you telling me this?” Melanie asked. “I saw the documents, and I saw your signature. How could you sink so low?” Melanie’s eyes dried up instantly. “It can’t be. No, I heard that Mrs. Goulder had something, but I thought it was all a lie. Where is Mrs. Goulder now? She’s been gone for six months, but you can’t claim the inheritance. Everything was registered to that woman.”
“Oh, Sue. I’ll prove it,” Melanie flared up. “You’re not only angry but also stupid,” Peter stood up and threw the crumpled napkin on the table. “Don’t call me again. I’m leaving for the Emirates in a week. I have business there, and I’ll also take a break. And this is your ticket.” Melanie raised her head and smiled, but Peter slowly tore up the ticket and grinned. “Goodbye, dear.”
Clasping the scraps of paper in her fingers, Melanie looked at her hands for a long time and tried to calm her trembling. She wanted to take everything from this life, but she lost everything. She left the restaurant with slow steps and went down the dark alley where no one was waiting for her.
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