Happy New Years y’all! And I just got use to writing 2015! So as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Mellie: A Story of Vinyl and Candy will be released on January 6th as an ebook . To give y’all a little taste, I am sharing the first chapter of the book. Enjoy!
CHAPTER 1 – SPLITTING INNOCENCE
Innocence- we are born wrapped tightly, securely in a blanket of innocence. Despite the circumstances of the life we are delivered into, we are still cloaked in fine downy white purity. And then somewhere along our path we are tainted. When did that happen to me? When was that milky innocence lost to me? This question has plagued me year after year, stalking after me well into adulthood. After all, I wonder, isn’t it the loss of that pureness that sculpts us into the person we eventually become? Is our freewill of who we would have chosen to be destroyed the precise moment that innocence ends?
Locked away in my office upstairs, barely illuminated by a dim lit lamp, I take a long sip of Pinot and swallow it down with a Xanax pill, while pouring over old journals I dug up earlier today out of the attic. Along with the Xanax and the Pinot, I swallow down what I have become…a woman who has perfected that “I’m fantastic” smile to the rest of the world all the while fighting against the mounting urge to bleed out in a bathtub, an alcohol dependent, benzo popping, mother and wife striving to keep at bay the persistent anxiety and panic attacks and rapid mood swings, or also known as Bipolar Disorder the good doctor kindly informed me today.
I remember the beginning of the end, not the exact moment, but the events leading up to the end. They are relived and replayed, haunting me in my new life. Poisoning me. The answer is there in my diaries, and in my current state of mania, one of many states, I am determined to find it. Because I know there was a time I was good. I was pure. A time when my life was a sweet as my Mamaw’s sugary pecan pie. A time before I became the bitter pecan better left rotting on the ground.
Another glass of wine down and I pick up a miniature lavender book. There is a unicorn rearing up on the front and an old rusty clasp keeping it bound together. I open it up to yellowing pages and read.
Mamaw took me to get mint chocolate chip ice cream after church today. My favorite! Then she painted my fingernails and told me stories about when she was a girl my age. She tells the best stories. I love my Mamaw very much. Write back later.
I’m so so excited! I just got the best Christmas present ever. Santa Claus put a baby in Mama’s belly. I get to be a big sister soon.
Scowling at the empty wine bottle, I close the diary and stumble down to the kitchen to find another, careful not to wake up the girls or Elliot. My sweet husband, Elliot Malloy. In the three years we have been together, he has always tried so hard to understand me, loving me through the good days and bad. I do have good days. The days that I cycle up and don’t have to pretend at being happy. Those precious few days when happiness is a real feeling, and I can breathe without the weight of an anvil pressing in on my chest threatening to crack it wide open.
Back upstairs I pick up another tiny book. This one is a pastel pink with a fluffy white kitten curled up in a wicker basket on the cover, and like the first one, it is also adorned with a worn out rusty clasp. I flip to the first page.
Daddy carried me fishing off the bank down at the spillway, while Mama stayed home with baby Becca. I loved it being just the two of us! He taught me how to put the worm on the hook all by myself. It was kind of gross. We only caught a few baby fish, so we threw them back in the water. Going to bed now, goodnight.
Mama took me shopping and bought me a pretty new dress for Easter Sunday. She even let me pick out a pretty white hat with white gloves to match it. I can’t wait for church. I have the best mama in the whole world!
In these childish entries is the innocence I speak of. I can remember those moments as if I was this girl only yesterday. I am so close to her in these words that I feel I can almost reach out and catch the hem of her dress as she sprints barefoot through glossy green grass hunting for painted eggs to collect in her basket. If I could, I would whisper in her ear, “Stay here. Don’t go forward. Just stay here.” I reach for a third book, this one not as babyish and is a little thicker than the first two.
September 2, 1994
Our brand new house is almost finished, and I can’t wait to move in. My friends from school live right down the road, so that means I can ride my bike to their house now! Oh, and I just found out today that Ian Walker, the boy I was helping in English last year in the fifth grade, is my next door neighbor. I think he is really cute, but I’m too scared to tell him. We got in trouble the other day for borrowing tools from the men building our house. We weren’t stealing them. We just needed them to build a fort back in the woods behind his house. Anyways, gotta go. Mama is calling me. I will write again soon!
Ah yes, I remember that. It was such a great time. The whole family was excited about our brand new house being built in the back of Cherokee Lakes, a beautiful up and coming subdivision that boasted a large picturesque lake in the center of a thick wooded scenery scattered with brand new houses. It never once registered with me how hard my parents had been working and saving up for years to move us into that area. I didn’t have a clue that my parents were trying to give me and Becca what they didn’t have growing up. Money meant nothing to me then. Why should it? At eleven years old, I was just thrilled to finally be living in the same neighborhood as all of my friends from school. I just knew that we lived in a tiny blue house, and we were moving in to a huge brick house.
September 14, 1994
I really don’t mean to be a brat, but I hate it! Mama did my whole room in pink! Why? I said blue! And she was so happy about the way it looked, too. So I couldn’t tell her it was the ugliest bedroom ever. Like an old lady room. She was so clueless as to why I hated it. Does she know me at all? I despise pink! And that blanket! Oh my God that ugly blanket she bought me as a gift for the room! And to think I have to spend the rest of my life in that stupid room! I gotta go.
Such a silly thing to think about now. Lord, I was furious with that woman. I remember it clearly. I found Mama studying paint samples at our hand-me-down kitchen table given to us by her sister-in-law. Strands of blond hair falling in her face. And she looked up at me with vibrant brown eyes. The planning of this rosy red brick house was her dream finally coming true.
“Mellie, how would you like to pick out the paint color for the walls in your bedroom? Any color you want. Then we can find a bedroom set to match it,” she said.
“Really, Mama?” I squealed with delight at being included in the final decorating process of my new room, and also, at getting my own room. No more sharing a cramped space with my little sister, Becca. No more of all her babyish things crowding my personal area. No more pink.
“Well, I’m thinking a pale blue. Like baby blue.” I told her.
“Hmmm” she mused pretending to think hard about it. “Yes, I can see that. I think baby blue would be a very pretty color for your room, sweetheart.”
She kissed me on the top of the head and turned her attention back to the house plans. A week later came the “great gift.”
And I’m sure she meant well, but Mama found that God awful blanket with the matching sheet set while shopping at Dillard’s a week or so after promising me I could decorate my own room. It was a thick and heavy comforter, cream in color and decorated with faint pink roses running along green vines. Somehow she had convinced herself that I would love it as much as she did.
The first day I walked into my brand new room and saw that the walls were pink, and I mean pink like someone vomited up Pepto Bismol all over them, and I saw the ancient full size bed from her childhood with the tall wooden headboard and footboard engraved with yellow roses topped with that creamy comforter that had the same color Pepto Bismol pink flowers all over it. It was all I could do not to cry. It all seems hilarious to me now. I imagine my girls write similar things about me in their own diaries. I skim towards the end of the book.
May 10, 1998
I don’t want this. Please God, please, I promise I will be good. I will pray every night I swear. Just don’t let my parents split up.
Water stains dot the page from old tears from so many years ago. This is where it starts. This is where my childish innocence starts to split. At this particular moment it is a hairline crack, a tiny fracture. This is when I first discovered my life was not my Mamaw’s pecan pie and that grownups were as clueless as children.
I have to write this all down. God help me, I have to get it all out of me as I remember it. From then up until this very moment that I sit here sipping on this glass of wine, I have to transcribe the events as I remember them. I need another bottle. It’s going to be a long night.