女儿的小小说《Songs we hum》
once, in first or second grade, i spoke to emily. it must not have been a very deep conversation--how deep can seven-year olds get?--because i don't really remember what each of us said. i just remember emily's wild blonde hair and long eyelashes; the explosion of freckles across her face. emily lived down the street, but she lived far away enough to be on the stop before mine, so we never had a chance to speak. or maybe i just didn't want to talk to her. i don't know.
now, here's the thing. emily, you still live down the street from me. you have a daughter--angela, i think--and i have my beautiful melissa. melissa's first day of school, i walked her the extra few blocks to get to angela's bus stop. while melissa counted cars and found animals in the sky, i had eyes only for the fair-haired, blue-eyed girl that stood to my left; the stars scattered upon her cheeks. maybe if i'd been looking at you, emily, instead of your ghost, i would've known. known better.
there was my chance, and i didn't take it. for the same reason i didn't take it on the bus, twenty years ago. the same, stupid, juvenile reason. why speak to her now? you still have nothing in common with her. that part of me should've grown up long ago, but it didn't. if it had, then maybe things wouldn't have happened the way they did. maybe melissa and angela could've been friends. best friends.
anyways, i'm rambling. i used to believe that words had the power to fix things--to heal things. maybe they do, but i didn't use mine. i didn't think i needed to, because i never looked at your face that day, emily. and now, when i dream, all i can see is your face. beaten and aged. stormy-eyed.
i should've known better. i really should've. i should've talked to you that first day on route 9; i should've been there to tell you not to marry your husband, whose name i don't even know, in spite of it being all over the newspapers. i should've been there to introduce melissa to angela; to introduce my life to yours. i should have known better than to believe you died in your sleep--from a stroke, that bastard said.
and i talked to him, you know. your husband and i, we stood by the stop sign on 16th street and talked about your blue eyes and your long eyelashes. or maybe i just talked and he just let me speak. if i would've known, emily. if. i wake up and that's all i can think about. if.
but, every story has a hero. and in this story, it's my daughter, melissa. she saw your beaten eyes; the blood in angela's hair. she took the chance i left behind; she saved angela. and you know what? that brave girl stood there when they took your husband away. that beautiful girl held your daughter's hand and counted cars with her as her father was being shoved into a police car. melissa mended angela's bruises, with no words. something i'll never be able to do.
on friday, melissa was silent. "angela's gone." i was in the middle of my "grieving for the lost" speech when melissa interrupted me and said, "i'm not sad. i did what i was supposed to do. she'll come back one day."
will you, emily?
no."but i do miss her."
"i miss her too, milly."
i held it together until the late show came on, and then i locked myself in the bathroom and cried. cried my heart out for you, emily. and no words were involved in making me feel this way about you.
that was yesterday. today's saturday. no, nothing significant happened between you and i--melissa and angela--on a saturday. but today, i remembered something about you that makes it so that you're suddenly alive again. i can't explain it.
today, i remembered the sound of your laughter.
it's amazing the things we learn before we learn to complicate things.
feeling inspired lately.