The Prequel, Chapter Fifty-Two

Alexander felt the sunlight drift lazily onto his face, and he opened his eyes, wondering why he was so warm. He never woke up warm in his prison cell...

It was only when Alexander sat up that he realized he wasn't in his prison cell any longer. Now, he recalled his release from prison and Clarence's and Marla's offer to let him stay with them until he established a place of his own to stay.

So, then, Alexander was at the home of Clarence and Marla.

The grandfather clock in the room chimed seven-thirty. Well, at least Alexander had been able to sleep longer than he usually had in his prison cell. Breakfast had always been delivered at six-thirty - not necessarily early, unless you took into account the fact that he'd never been able to fall asleep earlier than one o'clock every night.

Rising from his bed, Alexander realized he'd fallen asleep in his clothes the night before. And when he looked in the mirror, he saw the circles under his eyes and the lines on his face.

No, prison had never been very good for one's beauty. With a mirthless laugh, Alexander tried his best to smooth out his hair before giving up. If it hadn't been for Auntie Lala's absolute insistence that Alexander be clean shaven (she'd always hated beards, anyways), Alexander would look alot worse than he already did.

If that was even possible.

Someone knocked on the door. In a voice that was still tainted by just having woken up, Alexander called, "Come in."

Clarence entered. He half-smiled. "I thought I heard someone moving around up here. I wasn't expecting you to be up so early."

Shrugging, Alexander shoved his hands in his pockets. "I guess I haven't had a full night's sleep in a long time."

Clarence opened his mouth to say something, then closed it.

Determined not to live in a well of self-pity, Alexander lifted his chin and decided, right then and there, that he would move on as best he could. "How is Miriam?"

"Miriam has been living in her own apartment. She started working lots of hours at the mercantile. The owners mentioned something about letting her run it when they go out to visit their daughter in the spring. Spring is about six months away, but as you can imagine, the idea of having free rein both excites and stresses Miriam." Clarence coughed and averted his eyes. He was hiding something.

"But how is Miriam doing? I'm glad she has a good job and all, but I feel like you all have been hiding something from me. Is she ill or some such thing?"

"I suppose now would be as good a time as any to tell you," Clarence said. "She didn't want to face you herself, and I dare say that she has good reason."

Exasperated, Alexander wanted to shake the words out of Clarence. Why was he being so evasive? "So...what's wrong with her?"

Clearing his throat, Clarence was about to speak when Marla entered.

"Breakfast is ready," Marla declared cheerfully, but her smile fell when she saw the sober look on Clarence's face. "Oh," she said, and crossed her arms nervously.

"Maybe Marla ought to tell you. I mean, she's a woman and all."

Before Alexander could speak, Marla blurted out, "Alexander, she's pregnant."

The End

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