Melody wasn’t the only one in the Pitts residence who needed a distraction. The children were all antsy, and their anxiety that came from being in the dark grew like wild fire. She simply did not know how to explain it to them. Saying “I do not trust your father” would yield more questions and would possibly incite mistrust and negative feelings in them as well. She wished there was a way to keep the problems between her and River, but it was a pipe dream. As long as he remained away from home, the speculation and questions would only grow. They all needed to get away and clear their heads, but of course Melody wouldn’t be up to be out in public. Instead, they all went to the Sheridan’s home. Melody didn’t call ahead or give her mother any kind of warning. They just showed up, and Bianca was beside herself.
She gasped. “Oh my word! My lost family has returned!”
Melody snorted. “Hey mom.”
“Hey grandma,” Stefan said.
Bianca was so overjoyed from the unexpected visit, she couldn’t even stand. Melody wanted to eat and went straight for the fridge. The boys fell into their own conversation while Harmony raced into Bianca’s arms.
“Grandma,” she shouted as she pounced on her.
“Hello there, my sweet girl! Look at how big you are! Oh you’re so precious, I could kiss your face all day.”
Harmony giggled as she was being squeezed by her grandma.
Bianca was in grandma heaven. Melody was relatively quiet, and Bianca knew she wouldn’t share what was on her mind in front of the children. So, after she got enough snuggle time in with her only granddaughter, she snuck away to her office in hopes that her daughter would follow. At first, Melody hadn’t noticed she left, but when she did, she knew where to find her. Once she finished her snack, she got up to put the bowl in the dishwasher, but her father caught her.
“Heeeeeey! It’s my prodigal kid! And her kids! I knew I had some grandkids around here somewhere.”
“What? I’m not trying to start trouble.”
She looked at him skeptically.
“Ok, maybe just a little trouble. I can’t be glad to see my little people? How about a hug for your old man, huh?”
He went in for the hug and whispered in her ear. “Go talk to your mother right now.” He had a serious look on his face when she pulled away from him.
She recalled the few times in her life that he ever had to use his stern voice with her. Gosh…am I scaring him that much?
He turned away from her and gasped dramatically. “Is that my little princess?”
He sat next to her. “Tell me…whaddaya know?”
“I know a lot of things,” she said confidently.
“I’ll bet you do. Tell me all of them!”
As she began to explain how she almost beat her father in chess, Giancarlo looked up at Melody with a strange seriousness. She didn’t need to be told twice. Down the hall she could hear her sons in their bedroom playing video games. They had everything they could ever dream of at their grandparent’s house. Melody found her mother in the office just like she thought she would. Although she did need to talk to her mother, the whole situation felt like a setup. She was transported back to her 17-year-old self as she carefully lowered herself into the chair.
“You cut your hair,” she said. “It looks nice. What made you finally do it?”
Bianca looked up from the computer. “I’m old, Mel. Time to try new things.”
Bianca allowed the silence for a few seconds. She wanted to see if Melody had anything on her mind. “Have you heard from Cadence?”
Melody sighed deeply. “No, mom.” Somehow she felt like she should have packed for a guilt trip.
That was not what Melody was expecting. “Seriously?” It was such a relief to finally have some good news in her life. “Oh my goodness! That’s great! It’s about time!”
“No, you started early.”
“That’s true. Man… Why don’t they just move here? I mean, they’re all by themselves! It doesn’t make any sense…especially now. Cameron can find another job.”
“Preaching to the choir. I can’t make her come, but I bring it up as much as I can.”
Bianca inserted another pregnant pause before she changed the subject. “How are you, baby?”
“The best I can,” she said honestly.
“Have you been getting out?”
She sighed heavily again. “No… Maybe… I went out with Presley and her crazy friends once.”
“Good. I’m glad. And River?”
“Still not home.”
“Melody…what exactly is your plan? When are you going to allow him to come back home?”
“When he learns the lesson!”
“What lesson is that?”
“When he figures out what’s important!” She didn’t mean to raise her voice, but Bianca understood. “He is so wrapped up in this stupid job! I know I shouldn’t say that, but it’s how I feel. I don’t understand what is so important about teaching people how to fish! I don’t even know if that’s what he’s doing anymore!”
For the most part, Bianca tried not to poke the bear too much and never asked her daughter a lot of questions. She braced herself for whatever new information Melody was about to share.
“Before I asked him to leave, I gave him one last chance to tell me the truth. You know what he said? He said that I wouldn’t want to know! He said he was involved in something that he couldn’t tell me about. What in the world is that supposed to mean? What am I supposed to think?”
Bianca mulled it over for a minute. “Maybe… Maybe it’s not so crazy,” she said. “Maybe this whole professor thing is a cover for whatever he’s really up to. What if he’s a secret agent or something?”
“HA! River a spy? Come on, mom. You’ve been watching too many crime dramas. River is a fisherman. He didn’t go to college, and apart from being a fitness nut, he doesn’t really have anything else going for him. Could you picture him interrogating criminals?” She continued laughing.
“Heh, yeah. Maybe that is a bet far fetched.”
“I just can’t understand why he would put anything above his family. No job is more important than we are! He’s missing it! I know he probably thinks he’s doing a good thing by working so hard so he can provide for us, but he doesn’t need to. I signed up for a simple life when I married him. I’ve had extravagance. I don’t need it! I just want him home…with me!”
It was time to poke the bear. Bianca needed to ask some hard questions. “Melody… Have you ever asked him why he works so hard?”
“Of course! He just says that he needs to. He’s always so vague! It makes me feel like he’s hiding something.”
“Ok, I get that. But, why can’t you be ok with it? If he feels like he needs to work hard, why can’t you let him?”
“Mom! He’s not around! The kids are growing up and they need him! That is not ok!”
“So, his needs aren’t important to you? It only matters what you and the kids need?”
Bianca continued. “I know it doesn’t make sense to you, and this wasn’t how you imagined your life to be, but you haven’t been very considerate of him.”
“No, no. I’m going to talk now, and you’re going to listen. In order to have a successful marriage, you must learn the art of the compromise. You can’t take and take and take while the other person constantly gives. And you can’t do all the giving while the other person takes. You need to show an interest in the things that are important to him, and he should do likewise. From the time you met him, your life has been about you. And, when things don’t go your way, you can’t handle it.”
“So… You’re saying you think I’m selfish.”
“That shoe fits.”
“Look, baby, I know things are hard, but in some families this is normal life.”
“I know, mom, but…” She let all the air out of her lungs and felt defeated. “I feel like I don’t know him anymore! My River would be at home helping his children with their homework. My River would know what’s going on in their lives and give them advice. The Riv I married wouldn’t have missed the birth of his child!” She began to cry.
Bianca got up and comforted her daughter. “I know. I know. I’m not gonna lie and say that things aren’t strange because they are, but are they worth dividing the family? What if things never change? Isn’t it better to have him around some of the time than not at all? I want you to think about that.”