Thursday, March 21, 2019

Consider it a dare. Let me know what happens after you've read this.

                                                          Melody’s Sweet Sleep

Melody winced as she yanked the car’s back door open. Her stomach had been hurting all day and she’d been plagued with this weird nervous energy. She chucked her school bag on the floor in front of little Stevie’s car seat and avoided his swinging legs. She bent over and kissed her baby brother’s pursed lips and his face illuminated with joy. She lovingly greeted the toddler, “How’s my sweet baby today?” Her other brother was ten-years-old and also in the back. Both boys were adorable with ash blonde hair and deeply set dimples. Melody smiled as she asked, “Did you have a good day at school Kevin?”
     Obviously attempting to push her buttons, Kevin scowled at her and rudely baited, “You’d know how my day was if you ever came home after school.”
     They had the token sibling love-hate relationship but she really wasn’t in the mood for his crap today. Her stomach cramped again. Little Stevie was laughing and wildly swinging his legs, kicking the back of her seat, trying keep her attention focused on him.
     Her mother complained, “Must you always slam the door?”
     “Sorry.” Melody apologised, meeting her mother’s frustrated gaze. Even when she was angry her mother was stunning, with her vibrant auburn hair and wide gentle smile, framed by deeply carved dimples. She was a beautiful woman with the softest green eyes, so gentle her soul looked almost breakable; you just wanted to give her a hug and protect her. Melody looked almost identical to her mother except her chestnut brown hair was shoulder length with a natural, whimsical wave which she always wore tucked behind her ears.
     It was pouring, when her mother announced her father was going to be late tonight. She succumbed to the chanting chorus of ice cream coming from the backseat and they made a unanimous decision to stop at the diner on the way home where they each ordered giant ice cream sundaes, even little Stevie; who had it literally everywhere by the time they were done. Melody smiled as her brother Kevin entertained the table with his outrageous sense of humour. She took a moment to appreciate her mother’s easy laughter and calm demeanor even during Stevie’s ice cream face painting episode. Her mother, all smiles, chose that moment to tell her that they had another baby on the way and that she was well over four months along. It was a happy surprise. 
     “Can you feel the baby moving yet? Melody enquired as she ate another mouthful of ice cream.
     Her mother replied,” Yes…I can.”
     Melody asked, “Can I feel the baby?”
     “You can give it a try.” Her mother answered sweetly.
     It was fluttering around as Melody laid her hand on her mother’s slightly rounded stomach. It was truly miraculous. She didn’t want to take her hand off but she did.
     As they stood up to leave, her mother leaned over and whispered a secret in her ear, “It’s a girl.”
     She watched her mom walk away from the table to pay for the sundaes. Once again, she felt a strange wave of apprehension ripple through her. Melody clutched her stomach and grimaced. She was a little worried but her little brother started to squeal and he winged his empty sundae cup on the floor. Melody crouched down with a napkin to clean it up and mumbled, “Seriously Stevie?” She heard her mother rustling around above her at the table.
     Her mom said, “Thank you honey.”  
     Melody grinned as she rose to her feet and replied, “No problem.” As she followed her family out to the vehicle, her little brother’s footsteps were humming in her ears. She shook her head. I must be over tired? Maybe I’m coming down with something? She was grinning in the car as they drove home thinking about how much she’d always wanted a little sister, while staring out the window watching the trees whirl by. She had to turn away. She was feeling a little dizzy. Motion sickness had never been her friend. The car swerved on the road. Startled, she laughed, “Mom, what the hell?” She glanced at her mother. She’d passed out in the driver’s seat! Melody panicked and with no time to think, she took off her seatbelt while attempting to reach for the steering wheel. The car swerved in one direction and then in another. It happened so quickly. It lurched into a shallow ditch, leaving the rear of the car exposed to oncoming traffic. Melody felt an instantaneous explosion of pain as her body flew through the windshield. She toppled limply down a steep embankment coming to rest in high grass. Stunned, she tried to comprehend the severity of her situation. What had just happened? That didn’t just happen. This wasn’t real. She lay bleeding in the foliage by the side of the road, taking small labored breaths, unable to move. Did that just happen? She could hear her baby brother’s desperate, haunting cries, “Mommy! Melody!” They crackled through the eerie silence in the frigid night air. She began to fight her way back to reality. Smoke was billowing above the car. She lay there twitching, completely incapacitated. Her wrist was in her line of vision; a bone had pierced through her skin. She felt the hot, sticky sensation of her blood as it left her body pooling beneath her. Her head lay twisted sideways and she could see the car through the curtain of blood. She attempted to blink it out her eyes. Melody could see her little brother’s face. He was sobbing with his hand against the window, imploring her to help him. He seemed to be staring right at her. She tried to move but her lack of pain let her know that she was in shock. No matter how hard she struggled, she couldn’t move. A voice inside of her mind kept whispering, go to sleep Melody. It’s time to go to sleep. Her little brother’s cries kept her eyes straining to stay open. She had to stay with him until she was sure he was safe. She couldn’t allow her eyes to close. She couldn’t succumb to the voice in her mind. Not until she knew somebody was there to help him. Melody focused on his tiny outstretched palm on the window. She could remember what it felt like to hold it and how the feeling of her baby brother’s hand in hers made her heart surge with love. She felt no pain. She was only thinking about him. Melody was silently praying as a big rig turned the corner and ran directly into the back of the vehicle. She lay there in horror as her little brother’s cries were silenced by the sound of crushing metal. What was left of the vehicle made a high-pitched scraping sound as it tumbled down the road as a sandwiched pile of rubble. There was a moment of complete quiet before an echoing explosion, followed by the crackling of fire but there was no screaming, not a single cry for they’d all been crushed on impact. Melody began to scream from within her broken being. She screamed over and over until she finally succumbed to her mind’s chanting, go to sleep, just shut your eyes…Go to sleep Melody. A final thought trickled through her broken mind riding on the last current of life as she bled out into the frigid unforgiving earth, if they are gone, please let me die. The heartbreaking vision ended and faded to black.
     She was so cold. Where was she? Her eyes opened and the foggy images came into focus; leaves were all around her. Where am I? She could hear the steady humming of passing cars. She sat up and as she took in her surroundings, she realised that the sounds of the vehicles were coming from above her, up the grassy hill. She looked at her hands and touched her face, confused as to how she’d come to be lying in the grass down a ravine. Morning dew was still glimmering in small droplets on the tips of the tall grass surrounding her. It was strangely magical; it looked like daylight stars in a sky of lush green foliage. Her hands were smudged with mud, as were her clothes but she felt alright. Melody racked her brain trying to remember what she was doing by the side of the road. She began to get flickers of memory; the ice cream, the baby sister and her little brother’s hand pressed against the glass on car window. But nothing solid was coming to her. Had she gotten lost? Had she been kidnapped or attacked on her way home walking from somewhere? She wiped the dirt off her hands onto her clothes. She felt a little woozy as she tried to stand up but quickly found her balance. She stood there at the bottom of the hill in moist thigh deep grass thinking, what happened? As she tried to remember again, she was met with a piercing headache that throbbed and pulsated beneath her scalp. Her mind seemed to be saying, just leave it alone; you don’t want to know.
     She climbed up the side of the hill on all fours holding on to the long thick strands of grass as though she were a wild animal, with an unexplainable feeling of strength rippling beneath the surface of her skin. When she reached the top, she rose to a standing position by the side of the road with her feet half on gravel, half on cement and noticed she was missing a shoe. That’s weird, why would I only have one shoe on? Thoughts raced through her mind, there was something she needed to remember. She had a flash of memory…There were diamonds in sand. She was standing barefoot in the sand with her toes in the warm luxurious silky grains. As she recalled brilliant light and a beautiful woman, she felt more than a little bit delusional. She must have hit her head?
     She could see teddy bears and a memorial around a tree by the side of the road and she slowly walked towards it feeling like it mattered to her in some way. She felt a sense of foreboding as she approached the shrine. Pictures of her family were on the tree, surrounded by flowers and toys. A cheerleading picture of her was also on the tree, as well as a picture of her on her horse. Did I die? she thought, still unable to remember anything solid. Melody stared at the pictures of her in confusion and picked up a bouquet of flowers from someone named Michael and read it…Great loss of Melody and her family…My condolencesWas she a ghost? Had they all died in a car accident? That’s why people made these shrines by the side of the road. She dropped to her knees in front of the makeshift shrine, looking like an angel kneeling at the bottom of a perfect ray of light that shone through the dense forest as though it had extended from heaven to guide her way home. Why was she still here? A car pulled over but she didn’t hear it because she was trying to process everything.
     Her father spoke her name in disbelief, “Melody?”
     What? She turned around and her heart leapt as she looked up at him. Maybe angels came to guide you to heaven in the form of someone you love.
     Her father shook his head in disbelief as he took a step closer. His voice cracked with emotion as he gasped, “Is that really you?”
     Angels wouldn’t cry. Her heart leapt. “Daddy?” She whispered, “Can you see me?”
     Her father knelt before her and she was afraid. What if this wasn’t real, just a cruel taunting nightmare. He reached out and touched her shoulder. He was real. Her father opened his arms and she sprung into his loving embrace.
     He cradled her, sobbing, “How…How are you alive? How are you here with me?” 
     Tears blurred her vision as she whispered, “Are mom and the boys with you?”
     “No,” her father choked out, “They’re gone…I thought you were gone to?” They clung to each other and sobbed.
     They were still crying in each other’s arms by the side of the road when a police car pulled up. An officer got out and exclaimed, “Oh my God!”

     Melody’s father looked up with his eyes overflowing with tears of joy and replied, “Exactly.” 

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