I had the house all to myself. Well, at least for the next four hours or so. My Mom and younger brother went shopping at the Farmers Market. The market opens only once a month, and I enjoy going to it with my Mom. The smell of mangoes, bananas, pineapples, and papaws, mingled with fresh vegetables and herbs usually overwhelms me with unexplainable pleasure. As I watch and listen to sellers calling out to shoppers, and shoppers haggling with sellers, and both walking away happily, also adds to my joy.

My Mom and sixteen-year-old brother will not spend the entire four hours shopping. After shopping, they will take some of the fruits, vegetables and whatever else they purchase, to my grandparents. There, my Mom and granddad, who was a chef for many years, will bake bread, and we would have homemade bread for about two to three days.

So, with the house all to myself, it was time for me to eat caramel popcorn, chips and chocolate in front of the T.V. I grabbed my snacks and sat down in the flowered upholstery chair. The black universal remote control was already laying on the chair, and after reaching out for it and turning to face the T.V. my eyes fell on the opened magazine on the oval shape light brown coffee table in the centre of the room. It was the monthly magazine that my Mom subscribed to.

“I didn’t realize this came in already,” I said, aloud.

I put down the remote and reached out for the magazine. I don’t usually read it from cover to cover, but I enjoy going through it, and I especially look forward to reading the “True Story,” feature in it.

I’ll go through this first, and then look at the T.V., I thought.

I pulled my feet into the chair and tucked them under each other. I was dressed in a red and white T-shirt, and black shorts; my curly black hair was braided in cornrow.

I opened the magazine, and when I reached the “True Story,” piece, I began reading it, and it quickly enthralled me. The story was of eighteen-year-old Bre, who was at home alone. Summer break and the end of her high school years were a month away, and on this day, she had a free period at the start of her school day. Therefore, she was leaving home a little later than usual. Her parents were already off to work, and her younger sister was already at school.

Bre had just put her breakfast dishes into the stainless steel sink when the doorbell rang. She jumped.

Who is it? she wondered, and quietly tiptoed to the peephole on the door.

She saw a woman with a baby in her arms, and the woman kept looking behind her. She pressed the doorbell again, and she was murmuring. As the woman turned to walk away, Bre opened the door.

“Yes?” she asked.

Her head was exposed, but the rest of her body was behind the door. Bre judged the woman to be about three to four years older than her. She was dressed in long blue jeans, a grey sweater, and a black Guess hat that was pulled down on her face. Still, Bre could see that the woman’s eyes were red and puffy.

The woman asked her if she could use her toilet.

“The toilet?” Bre asked, surprised by the unexpected request.

The woman looked behind her again, and Bre opened her mouth to respond, but before any words came out, the woman pleaded, “Please, I wouldn’t be long. Please, I really need to go.”

“Okay, okay,” Bre said, slowly moving away from behind the door and opening it a little wider.

“But you have to make it quick,” she added.

The woman nodded.

“You will need to hold my baby for me,” she said, “his name is Noel, and he is a really good boy.”

Bre’s mouth slightly fell open, and she looked down at the baby. He was tightly wrapped in a green and white blanket, and a white hat was on his head. He looked as though he was just born.

“I don’t want to wake him,” Bre fumbled out.

“But I can’t use the toilet with him in my arms.”

“Okay, okay,” Bre said, stepping back into the house.

The woman entered the house and carefully placed Noel into her arms. Afterwards, she bend down and kissed him.

“Be a good boy,” she whispered, “mummy will be back soon.”

Then straighten up, she turned and fled through the opened door. Bre stood frozen.

By the time she could move, she slowly made her way through the door and looked around for the woman, but she was nowhere in sight. Bre returned inside, and as she lowered Noel onto her parents’ bed, she prayed that he would not wake up. He didn’t, and she encircled him with the pink and white flowered pillowcase on the bed. She then tiptoed out of the room and quietly pulled the door behind her.

She called her Mom on her cell phone and told her what had happened, and her mother was on her way home. The moment she ended the call, the doorbell rang again. Bre jumped.

She hurriedly tiptoed to the door and peeped through the peephole. There, standing on the porch, was a man dressed in all black. Bre watched him for several seconds as he surveyed the area. He then turned around and pressed the doorbell again, and again he turned his back to the door. He looked to his left, then right, and walked off the porch.

Bre slowly released the breath she did not realize she was holding and then hurried back to the bedroom to check on Noel. She called her Mom, who was about ten minutes away from home and told her about the second visitor.

With instructions from her Mom not to ever go to the door if the doorbell rings again, she paced the living room until her mother arrived home. Several minutes later, when her Mom returned home, and after checking on the still sleeping Noel, Bre was asked to repeat step-by-step everything that happened up to that point.

They debated whether to dial 911 or hospital emergency for them to send out an ambulance for the baby. They decided on the ambulance, and just as her Mom was about to dial the number, the doorbell rang.

“Oh, no,” Bre whispered.

Bre’s Mom was dressed in a light blue skirt suit with a white inside shirt. Her hair was styled in a wavy weave that went well with her circular face and high cheekbones. She kissed Bre on the forehead and told her that she would take care of everything. Then she added, “your Dad will be home soon.”

Her Mom headed for the door, and Bre closely followed her.

“Peep first, Mom,” Bre whispered, and her Mom did before opening the door.

Noel’s Mom was standing there, surprised.

“Who are you?” she asked Bre’s Mom, “is there a girl living here, she was wearing a…”

“I’m here, I’m here,” Bre said, stepping out from behind her Mom.

As it turns out, the woman was running from Noel’s Dad, who was threatening to harm them. She fled the house with the baby but had nowhere to go, so she started knocking on doors, and Bre was the only one, out of the three doors she knocked on, to open. She’d moved to the area three months ago, that is, two months after Noel was born.

After hearing her story, Bre and her Mom were eager to help the woman and her baby. Years later, they were still in each other lives.

“Wow,” I said, as the “True Story” in the magazine ended.

I reached out for more caramel popcorn, and just as I popped some into my mouth, the doorbell rang. I jumped. Then, slowly putting down the magazine I quietly went to the peephole. No one was standing there. Nevertheless, I kept looking through it for a few more minutes before I slowly opened the cream-painted wooden door. As I did, the parcel from Amazon slowly slid from bracing against the door and lay flat on the porch. I laugh out loud.

The End

A. M. Linton is a wife and mother of two. She is also the author of Torn Between Love, Religion and Responsibility, A Little on Puberty for Boys and A little on Symptoms Associated with Menopause. A few of her short stories were also published in The Barbados Advocate Newspaper.

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