Ta'c Meeywi, (Good Morning in Nez Perce) from Kaya and me. It'll usually be just Kaya and me, but Melody will be joining us today. Kaya will always be my favorite doll, but I wrote a Grownup Story for Melody that I'm really excited about. Hope you like it.
The Music of Grief
Melody Ellison 1968
By Brianne Echard
13 May 2017
Fourteen year-old Melody Ellison put her pencil down. She needed a homework break. Eighth grade math was much harder than fourth grade multiplication and division. Standing, she turned on her radio, hoping one of Dwayne's hits was on. A smile stretched from ear to ear as she recognized the song. Beginning to sing along, her homework forgotten, her thoughts take her back to the day she first heard it. She had been in the recording studio with her brother, Val, Lila, Sharon and Mommy.
Melody turned just as her eighteen year-old sister, Lila, burst through their bedroom door, breathing hard.
“DD you need to come downstairs, I've already got the TV on.”
Melody glanced at her unfinished math homework and groaned, her smile and memories fading, ”Sorry, I gotta finish my homework.”
Lila grabbed her sister's hand and started to drag her out into the hall.
“Forget your homework!!”
Forget your homework? This must be extremely important if Lila, the sister who studdied day in and day out for a private highschool’s science scholarship, told her to forget homework. Then she sees it. Lila’s glasses are resting on the tip of her nose. That’s nothing new. Except… Lila hasn’t pushed them into place yet, she’s just letting them sit there. Does she know they’re just sitting there? Looking closer, Lila looks like she always does when she’s walking and reading at the same time, dreamy and focused only on one thing. Reaching up, intending to help, Melody lays a finger on the bridge of her sister’s glasses, but Lila jerks back so fast, her glasses almost fall right off. This “must” be important. As Melody thought this over, Lila practically flew into the room to turn off the radio. Melody’s mouth droped open. Lila loves music as much as the rest of her family, so why would she be so quick to turn off the radio? Especially when one of Dwayne’s hits was playing? Not missing a beat, Lila turned, caught at her falling glasses, stuffed them carelessly into her pocket, grabbed Melody by the hand, and drug her downstairs, muttering under her breath, “This, is no time for music.”
Melody’s thoughts start to spin as a cold fear rushed through her heart. No time for music? There’s always a time for music. Isn’t there?
Stumbling down the last few steps, Melody opened her mouth to ask what was going on, but a hard look from Daddy stopped her. Daddy had never looked at her that way before. Had she done something wrong? But no, Lila had said she’d turned on the TV. If she had done something wrong, there’d be no TV. As if reading her thoughts, Big Momma patted the spot next to her and gave Melody a weak and wavering smile.
“No Baby Chick, you haven’t done anything. Come sit with me.”
Slowly letting go of Lila’s hand, Melody walked over to the spot saved for her. Seated, she glanced around. Everyone’s here. Big Momma and Poppa, Dwayne and his wife, Yvonne and her family, Val and her parents. This must be important to have brought everyone together. As Daddy quiets everybody and turns up the TV, the family’s dog, Bo, comes over and lays across Melody’s feet with a sigh and a small whine. Settling back against the sofa cushions, Melody opened her mouth to again ask what’s going on, but her breath caught in her throat at the sight on the screen. Slowly, the words of the news caster start to register.
“Good evening. I am here today, April fourth, 1968, in Nashville Tennessee, standing in front of the Lorraine Motel. Where just moments ago, on his second floor balcony, civil rights activist, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Was assassinated. As you can see…”
But Melody didn’t hear the rest. It was happening again. Just like the Birmingham Bombing Sunday. Her throat was closing up, her stomach was in knots, and the paralyzing fear returned. If she hadn’t leaned back on the cushions, she would’ve fallen back against them at the news. If it weren’t for Bo keeping her feet still, she would’ve jumped up and ran to her room. Anything to get away from all this sadness and shock. If it weren’t for her closed up throat, she would cry along with everyone else. Instead, she silently looked at the screen and thought, almost like a prayer, “What will we do now?”
Her thoughts take her back to the Freedom March. Dr. King had spoken there. He had spoken about his dream. A dream where Blacks and Whites live peacefully together. Will his dream ever come true? Suddenly, it’s as if Melody can hear the croud instead of her family’s TV, feel the street instead of hard wood floor under her feet, and feel the excitement instead of knotted pain. As Bo jumps onto her lap, Melody starts to gently stroke him, over and over, from head to tail. And, slowly, as if Bo is taking it all away, the knots in her stomach ease, her fear melts away, causing her body to relax, her throat opens up, and her tears freely fall on Bo’s soft fur. Yes, this may be a very sad and confusing time, but just like the Birmingham bombing Sunday, it might take some time, but for the four little girls that died that day, and now for Rev. Dr. King, she will again lift up her voice to sing.