Melodee was not happy.

But then, she was never happy.

She could only remember tiny fragments of happiness…moments back in her Mimi and Papa’s trailer.  Christmas there had been happy.  She remembered tangled lights that she and her sisters had wrapped around a tipsy tree.  A huge meal Mimi had cooked that Melodee hadn’t eaten because she had stuffed herself with life savers, candy canes, and M&Ms.  She remembered fighting with her sisters until they broke the new radio.  She remembered insisting on wearing her new Christmas pajamas to play outside and then crying when she slipped off her scooter and ripped a hole in the pant leg.  Yep, that had been a happy Christmas.  She had been with her family…such as it was anyway.

She had blocked the Christmas’ that followed out of her mind.  She didn’t look back at the last four years that she had spent in nine different foster homes.  At first, she had made a cautious effort to be a part of each new family.  But all of those efforts had slowly diminished and finally altogether abandoned three homes ago when…well, it didn’t matter now.  All that mattered now was that she didn’t bother to get attached to these people.  The Carriers would just pass her along like every other family had. 

She turned up the music that was already blasting through her earbuds and pulled out the bag of Cheetos that she had hidden in her nightstand drawer.  She tried to be careful not to get cheese on the white bedspread…not because she’d give two rotten bananas for the bedspread, but because she didn’t want to get in trouble for having food in her room.  Again.

The door opened suddenly and Mrs. Carrier stood there holding baby Harper. 

“Hey, Melodee…” Her eyes went immediately to the bag of Cheetos and Melodee braced herself and prepared to act like she couldn’t hear above the music.  I dare you to take these away from me.  She didn’t speak the words, but she yelled them with her eyes.

Mrs. Carrier stood and waited until finally Melodee pulled out an earbud.  “Hey, Melodee, I wondered if you could hold Harper for me for a few minutes.  She is a bit fussy and I’m trying to get dinner in the oven in time for company tonight.”  Melodee had been reminded two thousand times that some old family friends had just moved back into the area and they were coming over for dinner tonight.  Mrs. Carrier acted like it was the event of the century.  Frankly, Melodee didn’t give two rotten bananas.

Melodee rolled her eyes and tried to act inconvenienced although they both knew the truth was that Melodee loved to hold Harper.  She looked around for something she could wipe her cheesy fingers off on.  Definitely not her new Adidas hoodie. 

Harper fussed as she made the transition to Melodee; but Melodee followed Miss Carrier to the kitchen because she knew she had the best chance of a happy baby if Momma was within her sight lines. 

Byron, the Carrier’s obnoxious preschooler, was sitting quietly at a train table in the living room building and rebuilding a long wooden track.  “Watch, Melodee!”  He called happily.  Okay, so he wasn’t really obnoxious.  He was more “obnoxiously good.”  But there are a lot of ways that people can be obnoxious and maybe Melodee happened to not like four-year olds that would sit and play with a train when they were told to.  

Besides, it wasn’t fair.  Byron’s life was everything hers wasn’t.  Melodee had this unexplainable need to make sure that Byron’s life wasn’t perfect and that his parents knew that he wasn’t perfect.

Read the rest of this stories and many other family stories by purchasing the ebook or paperback…”Christmas Candles

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