by Ametha Williams
Melody abruptly awoke to the sound of her alarm clock screaming for attention. In an attempt to ignore the object’s rude disruption of her peaceful sleep; she rolled over in bed and pulled the covers over her head. The alarm clock would not be ignored and continued to scream its disapproval of Melody’s choice to sleep later. Sensing that the thing would not stop until she forced it to, Melody jerked a pillow from underneath her head and threw it blindly toward the direction of the screaming clock. The pillow struck the nightstand knocking the mechanical nagger to the floor with a loud clanking sound.
“Yes”, Melody whispered as she rolled over in the bed. Slowly wiping the sleep from her eyes; Melody rose up in bed. What day is it anyway? Rummaging through the cluttered creases of her mind, Melody began to run through the days of the week. Days came in the form of appointments and meetings she had been to in the past couple of days. Today was Thursday one day closer to Friday and the Weekend, which seemed to be everybody’s favorite holiday at her workplace. Thursdays were considered as Friday Eve, it was a life preserver to keep one afloat until Friday when it was ok to let loose and enjoy the fact that you got two days off to be whoever you wanted until the next week. Yep today was Thursday another workday one day closer to Friday.
Today was not just any Thursday. Today was something else too…. Today was Melody’s thirtieth birthday.
“Today is a very special day for me, world! Today I turn 30 years young! Do you know what that means world? It means that I’m young enough to be consider cute but old enough to be taken seriously. Yep! 30 is the new 20 and I’m going to live it up and stay 30 until I’m 40!”
Melody hopped out of bed and headed toward the bathroom in a rush. A shower, a change of clothes, and a blueberry cream cheese bagel was Melody’s morning routine. If anything got in the way and upset the natural balance of her morning routine, her day would normally be off kilter. Everything needed to be just right or nothing would go right. In an attempt to stay organized and ahead of everything, Melody often kept two organizational planners. A white planner for home and personal use and a black one for work and professional use.
Organization was the key to a success or so her father always said. “You don’t get rich just by dreaming and hoping that it will happen. You got to get off your rump and make it happen.” Lorne Chester, a self-made man who pulled himself out of the gutter by working odd jobs to put himself through college and earn a BA and MBA from college. Lorne was orphaned at five after his mother shot his father dead for cheating with her best friend. A neighbor who heard the commotion called the police.
Lorne’s mother decided rather than do time in jail she would take her chances on the run with her son. She made the bad decision to try and shoot her way out and make an escape. The final result: Lorne ended up recuperating in the hospital with a flesh wound to the left side of his face creating a jagged scar that Lorne would carry with him for the rest of his life. His mother ended up in the County Morgue with two gunshot wounds to the back of her head.
Lorne was turned over to state after his release from the hospital because his parents had no next of kin available to look after him. Lorne went from foster home to foster home until he was seventeen and graduated from high school. After graduation, Lorne set out on his own to make a name for himself in the world.
As a child, Melody would often listen to her father tell stories about his childhood and how he got his scar. Some of the stories were funny and some of them were sad, especially the one about his scar. To make her father feel better, Melody would often get a magic marker and draw a zigzag line across her face and show her father.
“Look Daddy, now we’re twins!” Lorne would often laugh at it his baby girl’s attempt to empathize with him.
Melody couldn’t wait until after work when she would meet her father for dinner and they could talk and reminisce about old times. It had been 12 years since Melody had moved away from home and headed to college. The departure more of her father’s idea than her own. Whenever the two gathered together for a day out, Melody would often remind Lorne of the day she left for college reflecting on her father’s stern demeanor before leaving.
“Do you remember what you said”, she’d ask him usually over dinner at some upscale restaurant, “Do you, daddy?’ Watching him patient yet intensely, her ears tuning out all background noise in anticipation of his response. Lorne would patiently chew his food until it was completely devoured, next he would take a small sip of water, before unfolding his dinner napkin and wiping the corners of his mouth.
After this ritual, Lorne would take Melody’s hands into his and say, “I said that you were capable of doing anything in the world that you wanted to do. You were capable of success and capable of failure. It is up to you which one you choose.”
Melody would often smile at her father’s ability to recount his long ago speech word for word. Riding high on this small wave of euphoria she would ask another question, “Do you remember what you did next, daddy?”
Lorne would always let out a small sigh before completing the trip down memory lane with the response, “I kissed you on the forehead and told you that I loved you my little….” Lorne would always pause toward the end before looking into Melody’s face, an unvoiced plea for mercy not to continue with the recollection.
Melody answering his plea with an undeterred desire for him to finish. “Come on, daddy. What did you say?”
Lorne would eventually give in and reply, “I love you my little cootie-pie.” Melody would squeal with joy and laugh until all the other patrons of the restaurant would stare. Lorne would often try to deflect the attention by telling everyone it was his daughter’s birthday to which many of them would applaud and offer well wishes. Melody did not care she was celebrating her birthday with her very best guy in all the world; her father.
This year it might be different since she was turning thirty. This year he might tell her to tone it down a bit and act like a mature and sophisticated young lady. Now that she was thirty, he would probably expect her to act more like her mother use to when out at dinner parties or fundraisers.
No, no, no, Melody. You must walk with a sense of decorum and style that lets the world know you are from a good upbringing. Remember when sitting you must cross your legs at the ankle not the knee, you are not advertising your goods to street urchins and whoremongers.
Melody shivered at the thought of her mother’s words. Elaine Dolphmer-Chester was quite the snob in her day. Both her parents were from old money aristocratic families who were pillars of the community. Elaine was an only child whom her parents spoiled rotten. She was given the best of everything and in turn grew up to be a very selfish and self-absorbed woman that stole the heart of hard working Lorne Chester.
They met at a grand opening party friends had thrown for Lorne to christen his new business. Three months later, they were married and three months after that Elaine was pregnant. After Melody was born, Elaine who had never been one for sharing attention with anyone took on several roles in rearing the young Melody: stylist, dietician, and critic. Elaine was relentless when it came to pushing her daughter to perfection even if it meant pushing her to the brink of a nervous breakdown.
Elaine would often say, “There is no beauty without pain! The ability to endure pain is what separates the weak from the strong!”
Melody had to be the best at everything she did because in her mother’s world there was no room for second place. Even now at age thirty she realized her mother’s words had influenced her life more than she cared to admit. Melody was very successful throughout high school and college. Melody had to admit that things were a little different since her mother’s death a year ago.
Keep it together kid. You got this. Those are just memories. Long ago memories. Melody takes a look in the mirror, “Happy Birthday, Melody.”