Now - Melody
The TV is on E-News, like it is every night. For whatever reason Cameron loves it, so after dinner each night she and I sit and watch it.
Tonight’s a little different. We sit on the couch eating pizza that was called in along with our weight in Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Normally me, Dad, Cam, and Brayden sit at the dining room table talking about our days, but I wanted her a little closer than normal tonight.
I wanted her to myself tonight.
That’s why I sent Brayden home and Dad got the hint so he went to work on some programming he’s been slaving over.
I’m so thankful every day they’re understanding and get what I need without having to spell it out to them.
Smiling to myself, I glance over to Cameron seeing she’s wide-eyed with chocolate all around her mouth. Tapping on my phone I see it’s close to nine.
Bracing myself for the fight that’s about to come. “Cam, go clean up and get ready for bed.”
She turns and pouts, “No. I don’t want to!”
“Excuse me,” using my ‘mommy’ voice and cocking an eyebrow.
We have a staredown till she lets out a dramatic huff and puts the spoon in the bowl with a clatter.
I say a quick thank you that she’s really not argumentative tonight, and well, in general, she’s not anymore. I’m especially glad she’s not argumentative as when she was three.
I don’t care what anyone says, the threes are worse than the twos. The threes I thought would be the death of me, and the fours aren’t so bad, but she’s still sassy.
Once she’s out of the room I grab the ice cream to put up. I’m not really paying much attention to the TV, but the woman on the news outlet catches my attention when I hear my name.
My head immediately whips up as an old picture of me and Genesis comes onto the screen. I hadn’t seen that picture in years. I wrack my brain where they would have got it, but my question is quickly answered as the host says, “We were able to access these pictures from public MySpace profiles of Melody’s and a hidden profile of Genesis Jones, thanks to Melody’s top eight -”
My blood runs cold and I drop everything approaching the television. The spoons and dishes make a clatter on the floor causing my father to rush in. He glances at me then sees my eyes fixated on the television.
When he sees what’s happening, his face turns a bright red, “I’m turning this off.”
“No,” I snap, “I want to hear what they have to say.”
“- Those that missed the breaking news today… Genesis Jones, the prestigious bachelor, has not always been a bachelor as thought before. Today Genesis did his first public interview in five years; even though, it was short-lived. In the last interview, he spoke of depression and loss…”
I block out the rest. I don’t want to relive that time…
My father’s comforting brown eyes shoot me a look of sympathy, “We don’t have to watch.”
I shake my head like Cameron when she’s upset and doesn’t get her way. “No. I want to hear what else they have to say about our relationship,” turning my eyes back to the television they begin a show of pictures that were once happy memories.
“- From what a source says, Genesis and Melody have been very close friends since the age of three. In school one was never without the other. Our source also reports that they had been together as a couple from the age of 17 to 22, but they broke up shortly after Genesis proposed to Melody and-”
“They’re making me out to be a bitch,” I say bitterly.
“- This, of course, shocks the community when Genesis has said on multiple occasions that he does not do relationships and has never had a lasting relationship. Of course, everything gets more curious from this clip that was posted to YouTube after the initial interview this morning.”
The screen cuts to the YouTube video of us in the hallway. I stare in horror as it goes scene by scene. My heart was in my throat as I watched myself smack him and my face turn to horror.
The real kicker was when he swung his head back around to me hissing loudly, “Kind of hard when it’s my father’s name.”
The scene pauses and becomes smaller, bringing back the host. She has this smug look as if she’s broke the biggest secret in the world. And if she says what I think she’s going to… I was going to lose it.
I brace myself, but I don’t think I’ll ever be ready.
“Now who is Cameron exactly?” she asks.
“I swear to God,” I whisper.
Dad doesn’t say anything either, because we know what’s coming. What we’ve feared the most.
“At first people speculated they were speaking, of course, of Genesis’ father, but soon a rumor began to spread like wildfire that Genesis Jones may, in fact, have a child with this Melody McCormick. We asked our source if that is who they were speaking of and we were informed that Melody actually has a daughter. Her name? Cameron McCormick... and from pictures that were provided she is strikingly similar to Genesis.”
In horror, I watch as pictures of my daughter flash across the screen.
“Dad… I don’t know what to do…”
“You should call Gen,” Dad says.
“Why?” Whipping my head around to look at him. “She doesn’t concern him, so why should I call him?”
“Because he knows how to handle these situations. We don’t.”
Looking away, ‘He’s right…’
As much as I hate to say he’s right, he is. I don’t even know who I’d contact to find out who gave the information out and to cease them from spreading more pictures.
Pressing my lips together, I concede and march over to the coffee table snatching my phone up and scroll through my contacts till I find the name I’m looking for. It rings and rings till it clicks over to a generic voicemail. Letting out a frustrated sigh I hang up.
Was I really expecting him to answer?
Going back to my contacts, I call Brandon.
It rings only once before Brandon answers, “Melody?”
“I need to talk to Genesis.”
There’s silence on the other end.
I can hear him sigh, “He’s not here, Mel.”
Rolling my eyes, “Don’t lie. Sarah told me he was staying with you guys for a while so I wouldn’t come over with Cameron. So. Let me. Talk. To. Genesis.”
“Can I ask why?”
“Please, Bran, let me talk to him,” I plead.
“Mel, I don’t think that’s a good idea…”
Through the phone, I hear a muffled sigh and him call out, “Genesis!” In the distance, even though they’re far from the phone, I can hear Brandon say, “Melody wants to talk to you.”
“Why?” Absolute shock coloring Genesis’s voice.
“I don’t know… She sounds upset, or still pissed.”
“Not surprised,” and I can imagine Genesis rolling his eyes. There’s a long pause before I hear him let out a huff, “Melody.”
I think if I didn’t feel like I was literally on fire I might have gasped or stammered, but I was a Mother on a mission. A mother who was going to skip over all these pleasantries and get right to the point. “Genesis, I don’t care if you have to call a lawyer or even your fucking agent, but I want whoever’s head on a platter that released pictures of our daughter to the press.”
I stop and cover my eyes, ’I said our… Our daughter…’
It was so easy to let it slip out. Way easier than it should have been… But it’s an inevitable conversation that’s going to happen between us. Something I need to prepare for because when he says he’s going to do something, he does it.
He’s silent for a moment before it hits him what I said. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, Melody, what are you talking about?”
Shaking my head in annoyance, and say in exasperation, “What I’m talking about is that I’m watching E-News and they’re showing pictures of Cameron and pictures of me and you from years ago! Without my permission!”
He sighs in defeat, “Melody, you kno-”
Is he really about to say what I think he is? “Don’t! Don’t you dare give me that talk,” I warn. “I haven’t asked you for a single thing in five years! Except to call me back, and you never did,” I cry out, making my voice become thick. “So at least do this for me, Gen, you owe me at least this. You’re the only one who can protect her right now because I can’t. And it’s tearing me up inside because I can’t!”
He’s quiet before I hear the sigh I know all too well. The one he used when he knew what I was saying was right. “Fine, I’ll see what I can do.”
“Thank you,” I whisper with sincerity, and for once I feel like a weight is lifted off me. I feel relieved that he’s actually listening.
He’s so quiet on the other end I thought he’d hung up. I glance at my phone seeing it still ticking showing how long we’ve been on the call.
Finally, he speaks and clears his throat, “Melody, I’d do anything for you and Cameron. I know I’ve done a piss poor job showing it, but I’d go through Hell for you both. I’ve gone through Hell for you both. I’m sorry this happened and I’ll make it right,” and he hangs up before I even have a chance to respond.
I stare at my phone in confusion.
“What’d he say?” my father asks.
Turning to him with the same confusion, “He’d take care of it.”
He nods and begins gathering the fallen dishes, “Go put Cameron to bed. I’ll clean up down here.”
I hesitate, “You sure?”
His eyes snap to mine, “Go.”
Nodding, I dash up the stairs. When I reach the top I throw myself against the wall and try to catch my breath.
I repeat over and over again in my mind what he said, ‘I’d do anything for you and Cameron.’
My heart skips a beat repeating it and my stomach churns. How and why does he still tie me up in knots like this? Why can’t my heart and mind be on the same page?
Why can’t my heart let.
Closing my eyes tight, I take deep breaths in to stop tears from forming because they were building.
He’s exhausted me today and I’ve already spent too much time and energy on him today, and too much time leaning against the wall. Clearing my throat and straightening my clothes, I push my bedroom door open seeing Cameron already curled up in my bed.
Walking over quietly I sit beside her stroking her hair.
Her eyes peep open, “Mom-ma?”
Faintly I hear downstairs the sound of the front door being knocked on.
It’s more than likely Brayden - if he saw what was reported - and to be honest, I can’t handle him right now.
I hear my father move around and go about answering the door, but it’s not Brayden’s voice that comes through. Straining my ears I try to listen to what is said between my father and the person at the door.
“Who’s that downstairs, Mom-ma?”
Trying to figure that out...
“I don’t know, baby, maybe Brayden.”
She shakes her head and frowns, “Not Brayden.”
Running my fingers through her hair I nod, “I think you’re right.”
She nods and closes her eyes. I continue stroking her hair. It soothes me, makes me forget all about today, and the silence is comforting. It’s the first time today my heart doesn’t hurt; my chest doesn’t feel as tight.
“Mom-ma,” Cam whispers, breaking the silence, “will you tell me a story?”
“What story do you want?”
She muses my question for a long time. “Tell me the story of you and Daddy.”
I sigh, “Aren’t you tired of it? You hear it almost every night.”
She shakes her head and closes her eyes, “It’s-my-favorite.”
There’s no escaping him today...
Taking a deep breath in, hoping it lifts the heavy feeling in my heart, but it doesn’t.
Clearing my throat, “Okay -” continuing to stroke her hair and I begin our story “- A long time ago, in a place not far from here, a little girl fell in love with a little boy. He had copper-colored hair and eyes as blue as ice. The little girl loved him from the moment she saw him, even though he didn’t love her till much later.
“When he finally did though, he loved her like no other. Every wish and hope she had he granted. They were unstoppable.
“But not everything is always how it should be. Sadness swept over the land and when the sadness came it washed away what they grew together. Two very important people were taken-”
“Grandma Dotty and Grandpa Cameron went to heaven,” she says sleepily.
A knot forms in my throat. “Yes,” I lean down and kiss her on the forehead trying to find my composure. “It tore Daddy apart. He let the dark part of sadness take over, and Mommy did everything she could to make him not fall too far, but he couldn’t take it. He had to go away for a long, long, long time, but before he left he wanted to leave Mommy something special. Something that will remind her of him every. Single. Day.
“Mommy had to wait for her present and when it finally came, Mommy realized how much Daddy loved her because he gave her the best gift anyone could ever ask for.”
I pause, “Do you know what it was?”
Her only response was her soft snore.
Leaning down I kiss her on the forehead one more time and soothe her hair, “It was you, Cameron. It was the best gift he ever gave me.” Sucking in an uneven breath I whisper, “Mommy and Daddy love you so very, very much. Dream of us.”
Quietly I stand and make my way over to my door. I look at her one more time before stepping out and closing it softly. Closing my eyes I let out a held breath.
“Melody,” comes a voice so broken. A voice I’ve heard one too many times today.
I nearly jump out of my skin, “Jesus H Christ! Genesis, you scared the shit out of me!”
He stares at me, eyes rimmed red and blotchy. He hesitates before looking away and at the door, “She knows?”
I regard him, “Depends on what you mean?”
“She knows me?”
I sigh and cross my arms, “She doesn’t know who you are, but she knows you exist…”
His eyes cut back to me. There’s something he wants to tell me. I can see it in his eyes, but he changes his mind. Deciding whatever he wanted to say wasn’t worth it. Clearing his throat, “She knows them,” and looks back at the door, “She knows about Mom and Dad?”
I nod, “She does. She knows everything I could remember of them. She loves them to pieces, Genesis, even though they’re not here.”
Genesis covers his face with his hands, and his shoulders shake.
The last time I saw him cry I’m a hundred percent positive was the afternoon after his parent’s funeral, and probably when we conceived Cameron.
Seeing him like this makes my heart ache to soothe him. To wrap him in my arms to soothe whatever pain he’s having course through his veins, but that’s not our relationship anymore.
It hasn’t been our relationship in a long time.
“But he needs you,” my conscious whispers.
My heart takes over.
I reach out to him, wrapping my hand around his arm to pull him to me. He takes it and wraps his arms around me so tight I can’t breathe, burying his face into the crook of my neck as he sobs.
That’s something I’ve never seen from him, and they become louder and louder. He squeezes into me harder, bringing me even closer. So close I can feel the way his chest heaves in and out against mine.
My knees begin to buckle and I force us down to the ground. I cradle him, stroking his copper hair that feels just like Cameron’s. I don’t know what else to do. If I should say anything, but at this moment I wanted to be the anchor that didn’t let him slip too far into the tidal wave that is an endless, dark abyss.