The assignment was a line of music that would represent themselves. Amelia hummed for days until it came to her.
This is who I am!
This is who I am!
But this is what you see.
The first bit is insistent or maybe matter-of-fact; the end is flirty when she plays up the lilt, sadder when she draws it out. She scribbles the notes onto scrap staff paper and hands it in. She replaces all the words with las and dahs.
Her teacher hands it back with an A- and the comment, “Pretty. Sounds like a nursery rhyme.”
It sticks in her head.
She can hear what it would sound like with harmonies and counter-melodies, played by orchestras and rock bands, the way the wind would whistle it around the trees.
Amelia sings it at Heather when she comes over later to work on math and gets drunk on it. Heather laughs at her and they trade it back and forth in loud mock opera voices, seeing who can be the silliest. Heather surprises her with an unexpected and truly hilarious goat-vibrato.
Her mother comes up to see what’s going on. Are they doing their homework? They sing it at her, too, horribly out of tune at this point.
“Goodness, you girls,” she says, amused. She heads back downstairs.
They never do finish their math.
She sings it to Ethan, too.
They’re sort of dating.
He’s obviously interested and she’s not entirely opposed. The way he feels about her, though, is so intense and she just wants to be a girl before she commits to being someone’s whole world.
He’s staring deep into her eyes and she’s getting a little uncomfortable, so she bats her lashes at him and sings her song as playfully as she can.
“You wrote that one?” It’s a question, but he asks it like he knows the answer already and she wishes that sometimes she was still a mystery to him. It passes.
“Come dance with me,” she says and drags him to his feet. They turn in a gentle circle and Ethan hums along with her, his breath warm on her ear.
John is a bad boy and Amelia knows it in the way everyone around her makes their feelings known.
He’s got his good parts, though. Everyone does. People are complicated.
The thing that drives her nuts, though, is how he buys into his reputation, and worse, how he buys into hers.
“Little Amelia,” he says when he hears her song. “So innocent.” He thinks it’s cute that she cares about “kid-stuff” and going to slumber parties with her friends, and painting her toenails in patterns to match her fingernails and her so-called Grand Romance with Ethan.
In some ways, it just makes her long to be as cool and aloof as he is.
But she also remembers how her teacher said her song sounded like a nursery rhyme, and those are far from innocent. She knows. She’s looked them up. Disease, domestic violence, political executions, slavery.
Amelia supposes that she was the one who wanted to be a mystery.
It becomes a game of sorts, guessing when he’d catch on. She finds herself humming at him when he gets close and she’s amused that it almost always throws him off. It takes him much longer than Amelia expects to realize how innocent she’s not, but then, she’s pretty good at hiding it.
But this is what you see.
Dawn is always complaining about her nosy parents. The first spell she learns by heart is how to conceal small objects from the casual onlooker.
Amelia’s lucky that way. Her mother’s very conscientious of her space. She knocks before she comes in, every time, and it’s Amelia’s job to vacuum her own floor and keep things tidy. Her mother isn’t a snoop, is what she’s saying.
Amelia still keep her journal hidden safely away. Leaving it out somewhere is just asking for trouble. She sings to the leather-bound tome, sharing herself with it and shielding it from others.
Her mother’s downstairs, making pancakes. She looks up when she hears Amelia coming.
“You’re always singing that song,” she says, fondly. “What’s it called again?”
“It doesn’t have a name. I made it up,” Amelia says and goes to the fridge to pour herself a glass of milk.
“Did you? My talented daughter."
"Do you mind if I go over to Heather's after school?" Amelia asked.
"Oh darn it!” her mother exclaims. “I can’t remember how many cups of flour I’ve added!”
“I must have distracted you. Sorry."
“Not your fault, Amy my sweet. Just the usual absent-mindedness in the morning. Well it’s either that, or I’m getting old, and I’m not ready to admit to that, yet.”
“Old? But you don’t look a day over 25!”
“Flatterers get extra pancakes.”
She sings over Heather’s body, wretched sobbing snatches of melody.
She would have carried on forever. It was the only thing keeping her from a comatose heap, herself, and she clung to the familiar comfort of it as she clung to Heather's unresponsive hand.
The ambulance came eventually to take Heather away. Visiting was family-only, and when she was released, the Barnes’ wouldn’t let Amelia in to see her.
Her Circle broken, her heart broken, her trust in all the things she thought to be true horribly broken. She leaves Chance Harbor. She needs a new beginning, but most of all, she has a new secret to protect. She can’t do that here.
She sings softly to her mother as she hugs her goodbye. Jane’s eyes are misty, but Amelia knows she’s resigned herself to losing her daughter.
“Call me when you find someplace, or if you want to talk, or just.... Call me,” Jane says. “Anytime.”
Amelia’s singing as she drives away, and this time it’s definitely a lament.
da-Dah da-Dah da-Daah
Her beautiful baby girl laughs and coos and giggles at her as Amelia sings.
Forget about power, forget about ambition, just be a child for as long as you can.
Your mom loves you very much.