Mr and Mrs Showers cling onto each other’s hands and look up at the ceiling. They’re in the living room, directly below the bedroom of their young daughter, waiting for midnight and hoping it won’t come.
It’s a yearly ritual, this waiting malarkey. It occurs on the evening of the 31st of March, and it’s an opportunity to reflect upon past mistakes. They watch the clock and curse themselves for ever being stupid enough to name their daughter April.
Mr and Mrs Showers are good, sweet people. They are the kind of folk who only ever have a smile for strangers and gentle words for their friends and family. The trouble is, they’re just a little too sweet.
They like things to be as cute as possible. They have a precious family of gnomes displayed in their front garden, and pretty pink polkadot curtains in their windows. Their kitchen is decked out in a pastel shade of yellow which mimics the morning sun. Round-faced china cherubs line their mantelpiece. They are frequently seen riding a pastel green tandem bike around the town’s winding streets. They partake in picnics and strawberry picking in the summer, and carol singing and ice skating when winter comes around. They volunteer at the soup kitchen on a weekly basis, and they hand out homemade cakes to their neighbours almost as often.
But six years ago, Mr and Mrs Showers took their cutesy lives to the extreme when they made the decision to name their daughter April.
April Showers. It was perfect. The bonny baby girl came into the world at midnight exactly on the first day in April; how could the couple possibly resist such a sweet name to match their sweet lifestyle?
Baby April had almost screamed the hospital down during the first five minutes of her life. The doctors and nurses bundled the family home as quickly as they could, but even there the kid wouldn’t stop bawling.
Mr and Mrs Showers were convinced she was poorly. She seemed to scream every moment she was awake, and even when the tears exhausted her tiny body she would whine and blub quietly in her sleep. Food was the only thing that soothed her, but even then she would frown up at whoever was unlucky enough to hold her bottle, as though she was plotting the many ways she could kill them when she was old enough to hold her own head up unaided.
Paediatricians visited the Showers household regularly in those early days, and each one carefully examined the child and found nothing wrong with her. They all concluded that she was simply a maungy baby and that, with any luck, she’d grow out of her tears.
And grow out of it she did, within a month, no less. One morning, Mr and Mrs Showers awoke to silence for the first time in months. They dashed to the little girl’s room, fearing the worst, but their daughter was indeed alive and well. She was gurgling away to herself, eyes bright and happy, gazing up at the mobile which spun gently above her cot.
From then on out, April Showers was the sweetest baby you could ever imagine. She cried from time to time, of course, as babies do. But she drank her milk with glee, giggled when she was bounced on a knee, and listened contentedly to the lullabies sang to her by her proud parents.
But when April came around again, the curse took hold. One-year-old April Showers began to scream once more. And this time, she was more mobile.
She threw things. She stomped her little feet. She pulled at her mother’s hair and yanked on her father’s ears. She smeared food on the walls, and destroyed as many toys as she possibly could with the measly strength in her fingers. She was furious at the world, and she did all she could to let it be known.
And then May came once more, and she was transformed. Gentle. Kind. Cheerful. Vibrant. She was a totally different child. She stayed that way for 11 months, until cursed April struck again.
It had been the same every year of April’s life. When the month of April reared its ugly head, it was tantrums galore. It was a time that Mr and Mrs Showers always feared, and the month in which most of their neighbours chose to take their yearly holidays for some respite from the noise.
So here we are, at 11.59 PM on the 31st March, waiting for the curse once more. The neighbours already have their earplugs in, but for Mr and Mrs Showers there will be no real escape from the caterwauling that is set to break forth from the room upstairs.
“Remember,” says Mrs Showers, “how wonderful she is the 11 other months in the year.”
Mr Showers nods. It’s the same pep talk she gives each year, and one he repeats in his mind every single day during the month of April. “Here we go,” he mutters, as the final seconds of March tick and tock away.
Midnight strikes. April Showers’ screams ring through the walls of her little bedroom and along the eaves of every single house along the terrace.
Dogs are jolted awake by the racket and dash to take cover beneath dinner tables. Cats, up to mischief on the streets in the middle of their night, bolt back to their homes and hide themselves in whatever cosy nooks they can find.
Babies in neighbouring houses, their ears too small for earplugs, are pushed from sleep by the noise and begin to screech in solidarity. Perturbed mothers and fathers try to rock them back to dreamland and wonder if logging yet another noise complaint with the council will make a difference.
And Mr and Mrs Showers? Those closest to the epicentre of their little girl’s curse? They do nothing. They watch the ceiling and allow their ears to ring as their daughter’s raging tantrum takes hold. It’s all they deserve for choosing such a cutesy fucking name.