It came from the music
Evening. Scents of fried baloney, cabbage, macaroni and cheese linger. South facing bedroom window. Summer sun still strong outside, though it's evening. Yellow plastic curtains stamped with images of white and yellow roses flutter lazily as he house exhales the day, inhales the first breath of night.
Green plastic radio, on folding T.V. tray by the bed. The remains of a candle in the shape of a smiling sun have joined radio and table in its waxy embrace, blobs and gobs of pale yellow wax puddled and hardened in a caricature of the shape of the radio, against metal. When the girl thinks to dust, she dusts around this now permanent landscape of the table.
Need music. Twirl radio dials. Boring….. twist. static. restless. Twirl. Mixed voices of two channels, battling for supremacy. Twirl. More static. Twirl. Faint…. The dial turning slower now, Growing louder… Evangelical passion fearful for her soul. Twirl. Static. Twirl. Soft, curving line of sound threads itself in one ear. Winding in elegant curls around her brain, caressing it. Darker, thicker threads join and weave and fold themselves into more than her brain can hold. So her heart makes room. It swells and aches with this monstrously beautiful sound, like none she has heard before. This is the sound of every feeling she has ever felt. It’s the contents of her soul made audible. She reaches for her drawing pad. Between her knees is the chipped mug filled with pencils she sharpened before she wedged the thin pillow between her and the rusty brown of the iron bedstead. She opens the book, “how to draw dogs” to the first illustration. And her pencil begins a dance across the paper. Tentative, cautious, at first, learning the steps as it goes.
2 hours later, the pad is empty, the pencils all dull. The music has ended. Fearful that she will never find the station again, she leaves the radio on as she turns out the light and pulls the worn coverlet to her chin. With the volume turned down. At some time in the night, she wakes with the terrifying thought that someone could bump the radio and she’ll lose the music. She turns on the light, finds a pencil with some lead still showing, and writes the numbers the dial points to on the cardboard backing from the used drawing pad. Back in the darkness under her patchwork quilt, she thrashes and tosses, worrying that the cardboard will be lost. Once again, the light goes on. She searches her school pencil case for a black inked permanent marker, writes the numbers on the unfinished wood at the bottom of her sock drawer, and at last falls into an uneasy sleep.
A wad of pages, tattered and grubby, crinkled and abused. No tidy manuscript, this. Each page has a life, a personality of its own, and refuses to conform to the shape of its neighbors. He lifts the top one, a pencil drawing of a Great Dane, from the heap. Strong, bold lines, clear highlights and shadows – a good likeness. It has her name on it, but this is like nothing he has seen her do before. This uncommunicative adolescent who seems to have no friends. This awkward, frumpy child who can’t be coerced or intimidated into completing any assignment she hasn’t taken an interest in.
“Where did these come from?” he asks her.
“from the music,” she answers, with something that sounds like awe in her voice.