The Duck Pond

Chapter 1

Mummy and Daddy were fighting again. About her, she could hear them down stairs, and they were trying to be quite, they were whispering, but Melody could still hear them. Grandma said she was like a bat, because she heard things other people couldn't, but that was a silly thing to say in Melody's opinion. She wasn't a bat, she was a little girl, she'd turned seven last week.

Melody didn't like it when her parents fought. Daddy was always angry when they did, and it scared her. It must have scared Mummy too, because Mummy always cried afterwards.

"You know how dangerous it is! I will not let her anywhere near him, she's just a child!"

"But she needs to see him, Rory! Look! Look at these drawings! She said she dreamt of them, she's been dreaming of him and we need to know why!"

"No! She's only seven!"

"I was seven!"

"And he left you, Amy!" Melody winced as she heard her Daddy yelling and clutched her teddy closer to her. Quietly she tip-toed to the other side of her bedroom, looking out the window into the sky.

She had dreams of the stars. Of blue boxes and wandering through winding corridors and hallways, full of excitement at what she might find next. Her Mummy was worried about her dreams and Melody often heard her talking to Daddy about the doctors. She needed to see him apparently, but Melody didn't agree. Doctors were people who took care of you when you were sick, who made you better. But she wasn't sick, and even if she was, her Mummy and Daddy had always taken care of her. She had never needed to go to the doctors in her life and she didn't want to now.

Melody jumped slightly as she heard a door slam and the car starting. She frowned, but then, footsteps on the stairs, and she quickly scrambled back into bed, snuggling down under the covers and closing her eyes, her teddy tight in her arms.

Her bedroom door opened and Melody knew it was her Mummy. Mummy smelt nice, Melody could always tell when she was there. She breathed in the smell; it calmed her, and she felt her Mummy sitting down beside her, the mattress dipping at the added weight.

Mummy was crying again, Melody realised, hearing soft sniffs as a warm and familiar hand reached out to smooth her brown hair behind her ears. She wanted to ask where Daddy had gone, or why Mummy wanted her to see a doctor, but Melody found she couldn't. Instead she lay in bed, pretending to sleep, listening to her Mummy who whispered softly to her about how amazing her Daddy was and how much she loved him, how much they loved her.

The next day when Melody woke up, she went into the kitchen to find her Daddy making breakfast like he always did. "Morning Pumpkin," He smiled at her, "Would you like some of Daddy's famous pancakes?"

Melody nodded, climbing up onto her stool at the breakfast bar, swinging her legs as she waited. Her Daddy poured her a glass of juice and continued his cooking and Melody decided to ask what she had been thinking of for quite some while.

"Daddy?"

"Yes, darling?"

"Why does Mummy think I have to go to the doctor's? Am I sick?" Melody watched her Daddy in curious innocence as he stopped and turned to her worriedly,

"No, Melody, you're not sick." He told her, "I promise you, you're fine. You're not going to see the Doctor."

Melody smiled. Good. She didn't want to see any doctors.

That day Melody's Mummy and Daddy took her to the park. She liked to close her eyes and spin around on the grass until her legs got dizzy and fell easily to the ground. Sometimes if she spun fast enough, she felt like she was standing still. Mummy had once explained to her that the world was spinning and moving around the Sun, and Melody had since come to realise that she could feel it. All the time she felt the ground spinning and the world moving, her feet being pulled to the ground like the pretty magnets Mummy and Daddy used were pulled to the fridge. Daddy said that was called gravity.

Melody spun around and around, closing her eyes, her arms out wide, spinning as fast as she could, for a split second she felt still, but then she fell, the grass soft beneath her, and she giggled. The world was turning once again and Melody stared up at the cloudy sky listening to her Mummy and Daddy apologising to each other in the distance. She smiled. It was always the best times, after a fight. They were happier. A family.

"I love you," Melody could hear them kissing softly, everything was better, normal and she closed her eyes, breathing in deeply. Around her she could smell grass and dirt, her Mummy's lovely perfume and her Daddy's aftershave, incredibly old and slightly mossy stone, a nearby dog running along to catch a tennis ball, the stink of the boys playing football, it was so strange that she found this smell homing. The only thing missing, she couldn't describe. It was a smell from her dreams, like metal, a sharp potent smell, like blood, but there was more to it. A true sense of home, just like she had in her Mummy or Daddy's arms. It was organic and clean and biting and as she thought of it, her mind filled with images of those winding corridors she dreamt about, geometric shapes changing as she wandered to become a reef of coral.

But then it was gone. All of it.

The boys, the dog, her Mummy and Daddy. Instead the smell was replaced with grit, soot. The air was full of exhaust and other fumes, so different from the fresh grass and dirt of the park. Melody opened her eyes and looked up into dark night sky, completely empty, void. There were no stars.

Melody got to her feet slowly, she was in an alley. The ground was rough and cold, and she heard sirens in the distance. Shivering in the cold Melody caught sight of a newspaper, half soaked in a muddy rain puddle, she ran to it, and frowned, tracing the words with her finger tip.

New York City, it said, 1969.

tbc