Melanie enrolled her daughter in drawing and dance classes as soon as they’d settled into the new apartment.
“Culture,” she said to her new neighbor. “The kid has to grow up without a father, that’s one strike against her going in. At least I can get her some culture.”
The woman nodded, but Melanie thought she detected a hint of pity, of alarm.
“I mean, I took piano lessons and dressage when I was her age. It’s the least I can do, I say.” She didn’t wait for the woman’s nod, just turned and went inside.
Piano and dressage. It was true for what it was worth, but that wasn’t much. She’d never been interested in learning an instrument, and the riding lessons had quickly turned into easy cover for making out with João, a Portuguese stable hand she fell hard for the moment she saw him after her first class.
But her daughter, April, was different. She would see to it that April took advantage of the right opportunities, that she never thought letting a 37-year old man play with her in an empty horse stall was a good idea. April would never drop out of school to follow a man, certainly not one old enough to be her father who — when she reached the Algarve and found him — turned out to have a wife and a house full of children.
She didn’t think she had to worry so hard, in truth. April was already so different. Beautiful, for one thing, where Melanie was only pretty. It pained her to admit, but there was no denying it. Those looks would give April choices Melanie never had.
“And it’s my job to see that she goes down smart,” Melanie said to herself, watching out the window for April’s return from her first dance class. “What else is a mother for?”