I Wouldn't Ever Change A Thing, A Short RalphxMelissa One-Off
WARNING: The following one-off story is extremely cute and very sappy in nature. If you have an aversion to cuteness or anything of that sort, either hit the back button or grab your barf bag!
It's a warm July night in the Evergreen Forest. It's very muggy outside, and as such, most of the Forest denizens have turned on their fans or air conditioners in order to help keep things cool while they slumber. Overall, though, it's a very peaceful evening. All is quiet except for the sounds of crickets chirping.
It's especially quiet and serene at the Raccoondominium, the home of Ralph and Melissa Raccoon. Their houseguest, Bert, has gone to spend the night at George and Nicole's-partially to visit Bentley, who will soon be leaving his parent's home for college, and partially to get out of the couple's hair for the evening and let them have a night of peace and quiet. The couple had a relaxing evening together; they shared a scrumptious dinner, watched some of their favorite TV shows, and spent a lot of time chatting about things that caught their interests.
Now, they were snuggled up in their bed, lost in dreamland together. Ralph's arms were gently woven around his wife's swollen belly to hold her close while they snoozed. Melissa was seven-and-a-half months pregnant now, and the couple couldn't help but feel excited knowing it would not be much longer until their first child entered the world-Ralph especially. The two couldn't be any more happy than they were right now.
Things couldn't be any more peaceful at the Raccoondominium. But that peace was about to be rudely interrupted...
Ralph suddenly found his eyes flying wide open. His wife was thrashing about in her sleep; he'd woken up when she started kicking him. He didn't like being awoken in the middle of the night so abruptly...but he still couldn't help but feel worried about Melissa. "What's the matter with her...?" Ralph wondered. "Is she having a bad dream?"
Melissa continued to thrash about in her sleep, obviously agitated by whatever she was dreaming about. Her feet continued to kick about, repeatedly striking her husband. "Maybe I should wake her..." Ralph worried to himself.
Suddenly, Melissa began to cry out rather loudly in the midst of her slumber. "RALPH!" she hollered out. "Ralph, don't go! You can't leave me...Please don't go, Ralph!"
Ralph knew he needed to wake his wife up. He knew she was having some sort of horrible nightmare about him. He felt it would be best to get her up and discuss whatever it was that she might have dreamed about...no matter how unpleasant it may have been.
Ralph slowly unwound his arms from his wife's bulging stomach and gently tapped her on the shoulder. "Honey! Honey, wake up! Wake up, Melissa!"
No use; Melissa didn't wake up. "No, Ralph!" Melissa cried out, still thrashing violently. "What am I going to do without you...?"
"Please wake up, Melissa!" Ralph shouted as he started to shake her. "You're having a bad dream!"
That did the trick. Melissa's eyes fluttered open as she sat up with a start. "AAAAUGGHH! RALPH! I'm up! I'm up!"
Ralph took a quick look at his wife's tired eyes. He noticed almost immediately that they were filled with tears. "Whatever she was dreaming about, it must have really upset her..." he deduced. "Honey..." he softly whispered, in his most tender voice, "...are you alright?"
Melissa rubbed her eyes a few times, wiping them clean of her tears. She then turned to face her husband. "I'm okay, Ralph...I guess..." she sighed. "I...I just had a terrible dream..."
"I can tell," her husband whispered sympathetically. "You were screaming my name out in the middle of your sleep. I woke up when you started kicking me," he managed to chuckle.
"I'm sorry..." Melissa replied quietly as she glanced down at the sheets.
"It's OK, honey," Ralph gave her his warmest smile as he draped his loving arm around his wife's shoulders for support. "I'm kind of getting used to it by now..." It was true; over these past seven-and-a-half months, Ralph found himself being woken up in the middle of the night by Melissa quite often-either because she needed to use the bathroom, she was craving some food, or she was having a bad dream, like tonight. "What exactly were you dreaming about? I know it must have involved me since you were screaming my name..."
Melissa remembered her dream in quite a fair amount of detail. She usually didn't remember most of her dreams...but she had definitely noticed that ever since she became pregnant, she could remember them much more vividly than before. She usually did like discussing her dreams with Ralph, but this time Melissa wasn't so sure she should discuss this.
She felt that it was a very implausible dream...something she felt sure would never happen. She felt it was a rather silly dream-not as silly as the dream she had when she was about eight weeks pregnant, in which she gave birth to a fully-grown male raccoon, who looked almost exactly like Ralph's late father and promptly demanded beer no sooner than he had been born-but she still felt it was rather silly and unlikely all the same. "I'm not sure I want to talk about that, dear..."
"Why not?" her husband wondered. "Too stressful...?"
"No," Melissa shook her head. "It's just...oh, it's a silly dream, Ralph. You might laugh at me and tell me how ridiculous I am for dreaming of such a thing..."
"I would never do such a thing," Ralph replied worriedly. "I've never laughed at you for having a bad dream. It's OK, honey, you can tell me. I just want to help you feel better." He tried to think of what she might have been dreaming about..."It wasn't that dream where I fell off the mountain and died again, was it?"
Melissa remembered having that particular dream before. That was not what occurred in her dream. "No, sweetie, that wasn't it. Ralph...I dreamed that...that...that..." For some reason, she was finding it rather difficult to speak.
"That you left me, Ralph..." she replied somberly, gazing down at the sheets again.
Ralph was surprised to hear this. She dreamed that he left her? No wonder she was really upset. "I left you in your dream...? What happened? Why did I leave you?"
Melissa sighed as she tried to put her dream into words. "Ralph, you were very rude to me in my dream. You said you had grown tired of me and didn't want to be around me anymore. You made fun of me and called me all sorts of nasty names...I pleaded with you not to go, but you wouldn't listen. You grabbed your suitcase, packed up your things, and ran out the front door saying you were never coming back. No matter how much I begged, you never listened to me. You just kept insulting me..." Melissa couldn't help but tear up a little again thinking about her dream...
Ralph's grip on her grew a little tighter. "Awwwww, Melissa..." he smiled lovingly at her, trying to cheer her up. "It's OK, honey. It was only a dream, right?"
"Right..." Melissa remarked as she dried her eyes again.
"You don't think I would really leave you...do you?"
"Well...no," Melissa replied sincerely. "I can't really see you ever leaving me. But that dream really upset me, Ralph. It felt so real. It actually felt like you were leaving me, dear...that's probably why I woke up crying..."
"I've noticed you seem to remember your dreams a lot more clearly lately," Ralph mused.
"It's kind of funny; before I was pregnant, I didn't really remember most of my dreams that well..." she had to chuckle. "I'm just glad that was a dream..."
"You don't ever have to worry about that happening, Melissa," Ralph whispered soothingly into his wife's ear as his arms wrapped around her for a hug. "I could never leave you. You and I have been through far too much together. I couldn't imagine the two of us being separated from one another. I want you in my life, honey...I need you..."
"I need you too, Ralph," Melissa whispered as well as she embraced her hubby back.
"Besides, we've got a good reason to stick together, don't we?" Ralph chuckled as he let go of his wife, glancing down at her large abdomen. "I remember you said you wanted our little Victoria to have both her parents in her life, didn't you?"
"I definitely did," Melissa nodded emphatically. "I want her to have the chance I never got to have: to have two loving parents in her life to help guide her along every step of the way."
"She will get that chance," Ralph beamed at her.
"I think what bothered me the most about that dream," Melissa steered the subject back towards her nightmare, "was how you were treating me in that dream. Like I said, you were being incredibly rude to me. You were calling me a bunch of mean things...you weren't acting like yourself at all."
"Mean things...?" Ralph was curious...what could he have called her in her dream. "What sort of mean things...?"
"Well, Ralph..." she glanced up at the ceiling, trying to remember. It quickly dawned upon her. "Ralph, you said I wasn't attractive to you anymore. You said you felt you deserved someone much younger and prettier than myself. You called me old, fat...and ugly." It greatly pained her to say that...
"Wow...I really said that?!" Ralph was definitely shocked; that certainly didn't sound like him at all. He would never insult his wife's appearance like that.
"Yes, you did, Ralph..."
Ralph knew his wife had been quite a bit less confident in herself over these past few months. As her pregnancy continued to progress, she found herself able to do less and less without his help. Pregnancy was really draining her energy levels, and thus, she was often quite tired and needed to take plenty of naps. Her body was undergoing numerous changes as the months flew by; she was growing larger and larger with each passing week. By now, she'd grown so large that her belly button had popped out. Just last week, Melissa started producing milk; her body was by now pretty well prepared for motherhood.
But Ralph knew his wife was not fond of the changes her body was undergoing; she was feeling rather unattractive. She had discussed her feelings with him several times previously, and he correctly deduced that this must be bugging her once again. "You're worried I'm not going to find you attractive when this is all said and done again, aren't you...?"
"Yes," Melissa nodded her head meekly. "I just can't help it, Ralph. I just don't really feel beautiful anymore. I feel more like a blimp if anything, dear..." she sighed softly. She really wasn't a vain woman, but over these past few months, she couldn't help but find herself worrying about her appearance. Melissa had always been fairly full-figured, but she just wasn't fond of being this big. "I don't really care what anyone else thinks of me, but I want you to find me attractive; you're my husband, after all. A husband is supposed to find his wife attractive," Melissa exhaled. "It's hard to feel beautiful when you look like this," she frowned, placing a paw on her belly.
"I understand; I know this hasn't been the easiest experience for you..."
"Ralph...you do still think I'm attractive, right...?" she gazed into his soft beady eyes, hoping for some encouraging words from her hubby.
Ralph thought for a moment. He admitted that it had been a little harder to think of Melissa as attractive the further her pregnancy advanced, but when he really looked at her...he still couldn't help but find her to be gorgeous. "Of course I do, honey," Ralph grinned broadly. "You're seven-and-a-half months pregnant...and still a total babe in my books," he winked as he put his arm around her again and pulled her a little closer.
Melissa rolled her eyes. She was used to her husband telling her things like that. "Oh, Ralph, you're such a sweet-talker. You're not just saying that to make me feel better...are you...?" She had no reason to doubt her hubby's words, but at times, she couldn't help but feel he was only just saying things like that to keep from upsetting her...
"No, I'm not," Ralph grinned. He really did still think his wife was beautiful. He actually didn't mind the changes her body was undergoing as a result of pregnancy. She was still pleasing to his eyes. "You've got quite a sexy figure there, Melissa," he smiled as he placed his paws on the sides of her stomach and gently ran them up and down her body. Ralph actually found his wife's swollen belly to be rather adorable. He couldn't help but find her pregnant body to be quite curvaceous...and very feminine. He really did find her more plump figure to be attractive. "Nice and curvy. You're..." Ralph tried to think of a good word to describe her. "You're quite voluptuous, honey," he winked.
Melissa thought that was a very sweet thing for Ralph to say. "You really think I'm voluptuous, huh...?" she smiled coyly, her cheeks pinkening a bit. That compliment really pleased her. "I like that, Ralph. I really do," she continued to smile. "Ralph, how did you ever get so sweet...?"
"Heheh, well," Ralph sheepishly replied as he placed his paw up on her shoulders, "I don't know. Maybe it's because my mother always used to hug me extra tight when I was just a little kit, I don't know. I've just always been like that," he chuckled.
"I really am lucky to have a man like you," Melissa grinned as she gave her hubby a peck on the cheek. "You really mean that, Ralph?"
"Of course. You may be seven-and-a-half months pregnant and a whole lot bigger than normal...but you're still the most beautiful raccoon I've ever laid my eyes on," he stated with confidence. "I love how you look."
"Awww, thanks, dear," Melissa continued to grin. "I'm sorry I keep worrying about this, Ralph..." she sighed again. "I know it's probably really silly of me to keep worrying you won't find me attractive anymore...Pregnancy's really been screwing with my head, you know!"
"I know, and it's alright," Ralph whispered. "Carrying our child around for nine months is definitely not an easy task! It'll only be for a little while longer, though...I'm sure you'll be back to your old self when this is all over."
"I sure hope so," his wife agreed. "Thank you for cheering me up, dear..."
"Hey, it's no problem!" Ralph laughed. His wife always liked giving him little confidence boosters whenever he felt down in the dumps...he loved having the opportunity to return that favor. "You'd do the same for me, wouldn't you?"
"Of course I would," she nodded, knowingly. "I know you've had confidence issues yourself..."
"I have," Ralph sighed. "I've never particularly thought I was much to look at, myself..."
"I still think you're handsome, sweetie!" Melissa replied perkily. "No matter what, you're my big, snuggly teddy bear..."
"Melissa, you're an amazing woman," Ralph beamed as his arm draped around her shoulders once again. "Don't ever let anyone tell you any differently..."
"I won't, Ralph..." she smirked, as she changed the subject. "You know, you've really been a great help for me throughout this whole experience. I really appreciate that, you know..."
"Anything for you," he smiled lovingly. "This is our child, and I'm really looking forward to being able to raise it with you. I just want to help make things easier for you during these nine months...you're a tough woman and I know you could get by without me. But I want to be there to help you and be as supportive as I can. I want to make sure things go as smoothly for you as possible."
"And you've done a wonderful job of that, Ralph," Melissa chirped happily. "Everything's gone so well to date. It's been a smooth, healthy pregnancy for me so far...just like I hoped it would be. Well, except for that time I got stuck in Endless Echo Caverns..." she blushed, feeling a little embarrassed to mention that.
"Don't feel too bad; everybody makes mistakes sometimes. At least the baby made it through A-okay," her husband tried to look on the bright side.
"I was really worried that I might have accidentally hurt Victoria...but you're right. I'm glad she was alright," Melissa agreed. "You know, you're really going to be a great father, Ralph..."
"World's greatest father?" he glanced at her, a hopeful look in his eyes. "You know...just like that scarf Bert made at the baby shower last week?"
"Well..." she thought for a moment. "You might not be the greatest father in the world, but you'll do wonderfully. I know you will."
"I hope I will be a good father," Ralph smiled brightly. It was at that moment that he remembered something important..."Honey, do you remember what tomorrow is?"
"Tomorrow?" Melissa was pretty tired; her mind was pretty hazy right now. So she couldn't remember. "No, I don't. It's not coming to me right now. What is tomorrow?"
"You don't remember? The annual Civic Awards are being given out tomorrow night at Mr. Knox and Lady Baden-Baden's estate," he filled her in. "Remember how I got the call from the Civic Awards Committee at the office last week? I've been nominated for Small-Town Editor of the Year Award once again."
"Oh, that's right, I remember now!" Melissa exclaimed. That was tomorrow, indeed. "I bought a new maternity dress the other day for the occasion...I hope I'll be able to fit into it!" she couldn't help but giggle.
"I think it'll accommodate you just fine," Ralph responded. "I sure hope that last issue of the Standard was good enough..."
"You know I'll be rooting for you, dear," Melissa cooed. "But it doesn't matter to me if you win the award again or not. You're still my big winner, no matter what."
"Heheh, I know," her husband chuckled a bit. "I wasn't going to tell you this, honey, but I thought you might like to know..."
"Know what?" Melissa was now curious. What could he possibly tell her?
"I've prepared a speech for the occasion," he informed his wife.
"You've already prepared a speech...? My, aren't we confident, Ralph. You already think you're going to win, don't you...?" she gave him a playful nudge.
"Well, no, but I always like to prepare a speech anyways," he confided to her. "I think you'll really like it, honey. I talk a lot about you..."
"You talk a lot about me...?" Melissa could not help but grin hearing that. "Why, that's sweet, dear! What did you write about me?"
"I can't tell you that; it's a surprise," he chuckled again. "You'll have to wait until tomorrow and hear what I have to say if I win."
"And if you don't win...?" his wife raised her eyebrow.
"I'll still read it to you anyways...because I know you would like to hear it," he grinned.
"That would be lovely, Ralph. I can't wait to see what you wrote about me..."
"Heh, like I said, I know you will love it," her husband smirked as he leaned in and gave Melissa a big kiss. "Seeing how you've been struggling with your self-confidence lately, I think it will really help..."
It was at that moment that Melissa suddenly felt a very familiar sensation in her stomach...the familiar feeling of her unborn baby kicking around inside of her. She initially found it bothersome feeling her future child using the walls of her uterus as a punching bag of sorts, and found herself feeling more like a football. But the further her pregnancy progressed, the more she had gotten used to it, and now it barely even bugged her at all. In fact, she actually rather looked forward to feeling her baby kick. It was always nice knowing their child was happy and healthy..."Oooh!" Melissa gasped a bit as her face winced. The baby had just given her a pretty good kick.
"Everything alright, honey?" Ralph asked her, though he had a good idea what was going on.
"I'm fine, dear," Melissa beamed, placing her paw on her rotund stomach. "But I think Bumpy here wants to play," she giggled.
Ralph chuckled. Their unborn child kicked so much that Melissa had started affectionately calling her "Bumpy". It was a cute nickname, he thought. "She wants to play, huh? But it's well past her bedtime."
"Oh, Ralph," Melissa couldn't help but laugh a little. "I don't think she knows or cares that she should be asleep by now. All she knows is that she wants to play!"
Ralph looked hopefully at his wife's tummy. "Melissa, honey...do you mind if I feel the baby?"
Melissa grinned. When she really thought about it, this was probably her favorite part of being pregnant: letting her partner feel their unborn baby's kicks. "It's so cute seeing how he reacts to our baby," she happily thought. She loved seeing his eyes light up whenever he felt their child thumping about inside her. Ralph always seemed to be so amazed that the two of them had actually been able to conceive that little wonder...
"Of course not, sweetie! You're always welcome to feel," she chirped. With that, she laid back and proceeded to untie the pink floral bathrobe she had gone to sleep in, fully exposing her stomach to Ralph. "Here, Ralph," she quipped as she proceeded to gently take hold of her husband's warm paw and place it firmly on her plump belly, right about where the baby was. "There! Do you feel her, dear?" she asked him.
Ralph soon felt that ever-so familiar sensation: something was moving and thumping around beneath his paw. "That's her alright, honey," Ralph beamed up at Melissa, his eyes lighting up. The baby was really moving about this time; Ralph felt numerous little kicks and punches beneath his paw as he rubbed her belly. "Boy, she's really active tonight, isn't she?"
"Hehe, she certainly is," Melissa giggled. "She's really been quite a busy baby lately. I feel her kick about in there every few hours! Plus, she's definitely getting stronger," she gazed softly into her husband's eyes.
"I can tell," Ralph laughed as he continued to gently rub Melissa's pregnant tummy. "She's getting pretty good at her softball pitch, isn't she?"
Melissa let out a pretty hearty laugh; Ralph always liked saying their baby was practicing softball inside her womb. She personally found that thought pretty funny. "I should say so!" she agreed. "If she keeps that up, she'll be playing as well as I did in high school by the time she's five!" The expectant couple shared a good laugh over that comment. "I think I would like it a little more if she found some more quiet activities to do in there, though..."
"Victoria's going to be a wonderful little child, don't you think...?" Ralph gazed sweetly at his wife.
"I know she will," Melissa grinned proudly. "I must say, I think this kid's definitely going to be quite the little tomboy!"
"Like mother, like daughter," her husband chuckled.
Next thing she knew, Ralph leaned in close to her belly and began to gently whisper to it. "Hi there, Victoria. You know who I am, don't you? It's me again...Daddy," he softly uttered, still tenderly stroking his wife's plump stomach. "I see you're really having fun in there, huh? You're nice and safe inside your Mommy. She's really been doing a wonderful job caring for you so far. But she and I can't wait until you're here in the world with us..."
It was at that moment that the thumping grew even stronger. Melissa's grin grew a couple notches in size. It was always adorable to see her hubby trying to bond with their future child. "She hears you, Ralph," she said lovingly. "I think she really likes hearing your voice."
"Heheh, Daddy loves you too, Victoria," Ralph whispered as he leaned in close and gave Melissa's swollen belly a soft, tender kiss. "Hope you get a good night's sleep in there, sweetheart."
"Mommy loves you too, Victoria," Melissa remarked as she too began to speak to their baby. "I know you're having a lot of fun in there right now, but I can tell you're very anxious to get out of me," she chuckled as she now took hold of Ralph's paw and placed it back on her stomach; now, the expectant couple's paws were both firmly positioned over where the baby was. "But don't worry, you won't have to stay in there much longer. Then you'll come out and see the world, and we can be a happy family together. You will always have a happy, loving home with us...you'll never have anything to fear." Melissa let go of her hubby's paw and gave her belly a few loving rubs. "We both love you very much. Sleep well, my little one..."
Ralph gave Melissa's baby bump a few affectionate pats before he sat up and gazed into her baby blues again. "Melissa, I know that pregnancy has been a very stressful experience for you," he asked, "but...when you really think about it, it hasn't been all that bad, has it?"
Melissa knew her husband was right. Sure, there were many things she disliked about being pregnant; she didn't like how she was gradually losing her independence, she wasn't pleased the changes her body was undergoing, and she wasn't fond of the pains and discomfort her pregnancy occasionally brought her. But when she thought of little moments like the one she'd just experienced with Ralph, she knew that this was a very worthwhile experience. Memories like those would stick with her forever...
Pregnancy was definitely an up-and-down experience, but she genuinely felt that the positives outweighed the negatives. If she could go back and choose whether or not to do this all over again, she knew without a doubt, she would do so in a heartbeat."It's so worth going through this to be a mother..."
"You're certainly right, dear," Melissa smirked quite proudly. "You know...I wouldn't change a thing!"