If loathing didn't fill her heart, her father would not have taken her aside. If she had merely nodded, and left, the way she always did when that name was spoken, he would not have asked her to sit down. If hatred and pain did not fill her eyes, and had she not coldly said, "Don't mention her to me; she left me when I needed her most," then he would not have had to command her to close her eyes.
But when her aunt had come by, she overheard her and her father talk. She would not have minded. After all, they had business to attend to. While she preferred to stay away from the evil that destroyed her family, her aunts and her father seemed so involved in it, as though they did not mind all the hurt their destinies caused them.
When Melinda was little, her mother told her how her grandmother Patty killed the bad men and helped the little kids and their moms and their dads and everyone else. Melinda's mom told her about the sad day when grandma went to kill the monster that lived under the water. When grandma tried to kill it, she was the one who lost. That night Melinda curled in bed and held on tightly to her mother and made her promise, "Of course I won't die and leave you alone." And Melinda believed her with all her heart. If mommy loved her, she would always stay.
But during the night mommy didn't love her at all. They woke up and it was really really dark. She clung to her mommy but she heard her daddy whisper hushed and urgent words. And then mommy gave her to daddy. And the last thing Melinda felt from her mommy was when she brushed a kiss on her forehead, and whispered, "Go back to sleep, baby."
Melinda waited for her mommy. She woke in the morning and sat at the window and waited for the jeep to park in the driveway. But mommy didn't come home. Daddy took her to mommy, and mommy won't talk to her. Melinda wanted mommy to talk to her, but she won't wake up. So Melinda did what mommy and daddy told her not to do when they're sleeping. She screamed and screamed, and daddy hugged her, and Aunt Phoebe hugged her, and Uncle Cole hugged her, and Aunt Paige hugged her, but no would wake mommy up. And then Melinda learned, after many years, that what mommy did was break her promise. And Melinda was so very hurt that she became angry.
And then angry became mad and mad and madder still. Melinda in time didn't want to hear about mommy, because mommy broke her promise. And daddy understood maybe. Daddy didn't talk to her about mommy after she cried and told him that she didn't like mommy at all. So now when she heard them talk about mommy, like mommy didn't break her promise to Melinda, Melinda got mad.
And suddenly, for the first time, daddy got mad too. Melinda never saw daddy angry before, and it was a sight to behold. When daddy told her to sit, Melinda sat. When daddy told her to look at the tv, Melinda looked at the tv.
Then daddy took the old tape
from the cabinet and played it for her. And Melinda saw mommy laughing
and smiling, and daddy's voice in the background. Mommy took the baby from
the crib and cradled it close to her heart. Mommy had such a pretty face,
Melinda thought. With long straight hair that fell heavily down her shoulders,
and a slight figure, mommy looked so delicate.
There be none of Beauty's
With a magic like thee;
And like music on the waters
Is thy sweet voice to me:
And then mommy sat on the
rocking chair, that Melinda remembered asking daddy to take to the attic
when she was fifteen. Melinda didn't like seeing it everyday just there
at the center of the living room, unused. But Melinda liked seeing the
rocking chair now, when mommy sits on it with the baby in her arms and
sings a sweet sweet song.
When, as if its sound
The charmed ocean's pausing,
The waves lie still and gleaming,
And the lull's winds seem dreaming:
The baby in her arms fell
asleep and daddy sat beside Melinda and took her hand in his. Melinda was
expressionless, sitting entranced. Daddy must have gone closer with the
camera, cause now the screen was filled with mommy and baby, sleeping.
And the midnight moon
Her bright chain o'er the deep;
Whose breast is gently heaving,
As an infant's asleep:
And then the screen went
black, and daddy turned off the tv and the vcr and looked back at Melinda.
Melinda just stared blankly ahead, and tears fell, drop by drop, down her
cheek. Daddy stood before her and opened his arms. And Melinda rose to
her feet and threw her arms around her daddy. And all she can think of,
was mommy's promise.
So the spirit bows before
To listen and adore thee;
With a full but soft emotion,
Like the swell of Summer's ocean.