The buzzing digital alarm clock on the nightstand jerked Melanna awake. She reached out to her left and slammed the power button to shut it off. Dawn crept over the horizon, welcoming the morning of a new day. She slouched on the bed, yawning and blinking as she tried to focus on her surroundings. Glancing around drowsily, she extended her arms and legs and took a long stretch.
Drawing the curtains and sheers, the bright sun shone directly into the room, making her squint as she carried out her regular routine. Auburn hair in a messy bun, she trudged to the bathroom to wash up and fit herself in a comfy reindeer sweater and a pair of leggings.
Craving for cinnamon pancakes dribbled in applesauce, she tiptoed to the kitchen, feeling the chilliness of the floorboards beneath. She groped about in the top cabinet for instant pancake mix. Coming across a tall rectangular box, she immediately identified it as Krusteaz Buttermilk.
She heated and greased the griddle, poured in the pancake mix along with some cold water, taking glances of the guide at the back of the package every few minutes.
The pancakes looked edible. They were thick and golden brown, as she expected. She plunged her fork into the soft delicacy, indulging her taste buds in the sweet flat cake of batter. She swept the plate clean, there were no leftovers whatsoever.
She stood up, progressed to the aluminium sink, and dumped her porcelain platter into the basin. The clinking sounds were soon silenced as she spun the tap knob and water gushed out, splashing onto the plate and merely specking her sweater. The dishes were then placed on the rack to be dried. She advanced to the refrigerator, scanning the note that was magnetized to its door the previous night. She removed the panda magnet and brought the sticky note closer.
It was her to-do-list: a list of tasks and requirements with checkboxes at the right side. She was a procrastinator, and would only accomplish the errands at the bottom. The last ones were the supermarket and town.
Town. She had totally forgotten about it. She wanted to stroll around Brighton for a change. She snatched her hobo bag and jodhpur boots, plopped into the driver's seat and jangled her keys. The engine roared to a start as she rotated the key in its keyhole. Only a puff of exhaust plumed from the Beetle's tailpipe while she took off onto the shoveled driveway.
The snow thudded lightly on the windscreen as the window wipers swished back and forth with grace. The seatbelt hauled at her while she hunched forwards, open-eyed, her grasp fixed on the steering wheel.
As she drew closer with her destination which was only a 30 minute drive, she glanced around greedily for a parking lot. The restrictions and legislations in town were very strict; parking on double yellow lines were forbidden. Nearing a curb, she positioned her car to fit in between two Picantos while concomitantly humming to Christmas carols.
She extended a foot onto the concrete pavement, displaying her slender calves for the world to admire and envy. Balancing both feet on the ground, she got out of the car in style, flipping her hair sedately, attracting the nearby tourists of England who happened to be enjoying their warm cup of Lipton and scrunching down buttery raisin scones.
She was here to spend leisure. There was no time indeed to be loitering around on the road, modelling as if for a photo shoot. Regaining self-esteem, she strolled on the street, starting first from an antique merchant store.
The lanes in Brighton had a hint of medieval to its cobblestone path, the shops varied from boutiques, bakeries, and minimarts, banners and street signs displaying advertisements of miscellaneous products, and canopies that shed off the snow. Mella traveled down the lane, beaming while the snow batted on the canopies above. It was getting chilly, so she fumbled for her cashmere scarf in the hobo bag slung on her right shoulder.
She paused in front of a bakery. The glass divider acted as a mirror but reflected poorly. She tied her scarf in an European loop, adjusting and patting it down so that it looked neat and tidy against her knitted sweater while simultaneously relishing the intriguing scent of bread and pies that were heaved out of the oven.
Behind the pane, a vast diversity of macarons, cobblers, cupcakes and muffins were displayed on 3 tiered pastry stands, decorated cakes placed in clear glass pedestal domes, tempting croissants arrayed on fancy gourmet trays imploring to be consumed by travellers who spent money like water. The distinctive tang of freshly baked and ready to be served tarts pervaded the atmosphere, clawing at patrons to toss their riches into the cash register.
"Maybe it's time I took a break," she murmured as she peered at the display of Danishes, still lingering on the path. She shoved her cold hands into the pockets of her sweater and tiptoed to view the macarons. After she got a clearer vision of the bakery, she stood back on her heels, wobbling slightly.
Out of the corner of her eye, a man in his mid-forties stared idly at her with his azure pair of orbs. He had on a beige overcoat which looked far too small for his bulk. He stood opposite of the bakery, in front of a florist, just so that Mella could see his reflection in the glass. Her gaze fell onto his features: a scar stretched from the right corner of his blunt nose to the side of his cheekbone. A large duffel bag held in his grasp. The bag appeared empty, soggy and old. The contents were unknown, unfamiliar by the bag's shape.
She spun around, intending to break into eye contact with the fellow stranger. To her surprise, the man had vanished, camouflaging in the mass of globetrotters that blocked out her view. Bewildered and blinking her optics, she recommenced her saunter to her heart's content.
. . .
Plastic bags, shopping bags, and paper bags occupied the rear seat of the Beetle. Mella reclined on the leather seat as she neared her abode. She pulled up by the sidewalk, shut off the engine and clung the bags to her left wrist. Jingling the ring of keys, she approached the short flight of steps, but did not lift her foot to climb.
A malodorous stench hung in the air. It seemed to be deriving from her right. She observed the miniature yard for the source of the reek.
An indescribable creature lay motionless on the blanket of snow, emitting the putrid odour that blemished the area. It appeared decayed, rotten, and rancid. Pinching her nose tight, she approached the horrid beast, and grimaced as she registered the animal.