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A Grotesque Melody 


Things had not always been this way. Mere months ago, sunlight had poured through south-facing windows of the cottage, offering warmth and pleasant scenery to it and its surrounding garden. Neighbors called frequently and many a merry evening had passed in the company of melody. In fact, Nathan and Elena, the inhabitants of this once-cheery home, had enjoyed music so much that they named their newborn child Melody.

            Their happiness, though, was not to endure. Darkness gathered in the forgotten cottage corners, building as Nathan and Elena plodded on in ignorance. Death hovered in wait.

            First, He took Nathan for his own, chastising him for his primitive habit of inhaling curious fumes. Nathan's fall was quick, but it was not so for Elena. As mucus filled the lungs of her dearest, Elena's mind began to twist and turn about with malevolence.

            Weakened, the widow took to her bed, being tended by the now-thirteen Melody, a filial gem. She ordered her daughter to close the drapes and send away all visitors. These were easily done. Yet one of Elena's decrees proved particularly heart-rending: there was to be no more music.

            The young girl spent her first night of deprivation weeping profusely. Elena, hearing, the sound, stood outside Melody's door, voraciously drinking in her sweet daughter's despair. A smile played on the woman's paling lips and she lingered in the hall nearly all night.

            In time, exhaustion overcame Melody, and she lay her head down. During the course of her slumber, a resolve appeared, took form, and strengthened within her head. The next morning, Melody carried her violin case down into the basement, as taciturn as can be. Jaw set in determination, she lit a candle in front of her music and placed a mute upon the instrument's bridge. She started to play a fast-paced contemporary piece, felicity once again rising inside of her. How foolish she had been to think her passion could be quelled so simply. She could not- would not- be contained. Melody's heart swelled with pride and she dared to play louder, letting the notes truly reverberate in the instrument's chamber.

            The basement door opened with a bang. The widow Elena stood, her emaciated limbs giving her a terrible, spindly visage. Her darkened eye bored into Melody's.

            "Mother, I"- Melody began.

            In a flash, the sickly creature glided down the steps and took her daughter by the wrist with unnatural force.

            "Stop it!" the girl cried out. "Let go!"

            Elena gave Melody a shove, sending her flying into concrete. Swiftly, she locked the violin in its case, tucking its key into her robe pocket for good measure.

            Without turning around to face the girl, Elena said, "I'll expect breakfast in thirty minutes," and she made her way back upstairs. And so the seed of vengeance was sown in Melody's head.

            The two began to watch one another. As her mother napped, Melody sat in that bedroom's corner, knees drawn up to her chest. Elena continued to press her ear to the girl's door at night, blending into the shadows should Melody peer her head out in suspicion.

            The sun rose and set possibly nine times before any true conflict occurred.

            Unable to go on another day, Melody crept into her mother's room once more. She had become a new girl, as ghastly and thin as Elena. Her golden hair had dimmed and now hung lank at her waist. An insatiable thirst had gripped her and driven her to this.

            With newfound stealth, she fished the key out of Elena's robe and put it to use quickly. In seconds, she was holding her instrument once again.

            Melody began to play.

            She inched closer to Elena's ear and let Grieg's famous tune trickle into it.

            Elena lay, perfectly still. Though the sound tormented her, still she waited for many minutes. As Melody slip out the final notes of the piece, she sprang up and grabbed the violin's neck. Melody shrieked, letting go in alarm. Her mother snapped the instrument in two as if it were a twig, and turned, snarling, to the girl. Elena's hands shot toward the girl's throat, but she was a second too late.

            Thus began a desperate kind of race. Tears streaked down Melody's face, but she did not stop nor stumble until she reached a neighboring house and pounded on the door.




            Elena was sent, temporarily, to a penitentiary that same day. Melody stayed with a neighbor, refusing even to get her things from the cottage. A few weeks passed, and finally, the girl relaxed.

            "Melody…" It came as a whisper, disturbing the recovering girl's sleep. The girl’s eyes fluttered open and shut, and open once more to find Elena, her mother, standing over her. The sight paralyzed Melody; she was unable to do anything more than watch helplessly.


            Elena drew a knife and pressed it to her daughter's throat, all the while humming the grotesque melody her child had played for her weeks ago. Her lips curved up into a smile.


-By Steph Kenific