The Music Box

May 22, 2012
Tears stream down my face and blur my vision making packing hard. I can’t help but feel overwhelmed. How is a fifteen year old girl supposed to deal with all of this stuff? An entire house filled with things and I have to sort through it all. Part of me, all of me really, wants to run. Run away and never stop. I’m too scared to do this, too alone to go on. But death doesn’t care whether you are young or old, strong or weak; it takes all you have anyway.

I have two bins, they are labeled ‘mom ’and ‘dad’. Inside are the contents of what used to be a family. I am almost finished clearing my parents bedroom. It’s funny how a person’s whole life story can be told with the objects they keep closest to them. My mother’s music box, my father’s book of Benjamin Franklin quotes; those are the thing that were closest to them. Each had their precious possession sitting right next to the bed.

My mother was a dancer. She would dance to that music box every night. Dad bought it for her a few weeks after I was born. He said it was symbolic for me being the music of their lives. If that was true, then why would they leave me? They must have known that going into that building was dangerous, it was on fire after all! How could they willingly do that and leave me all alone?

The sound of knocking pulls me away from my thoughts. I walk the twenty steps down the hall to the front door and see him through the window. By him, I mean the devil. Call him what you will but that is who he is. He is here to take me away from my home, the only home I have ever known. I will be forced to live with a foster family; a group of people that I have never met before in my entire life! Tell me how that is doing what Mr. Blevins says is, “best for the child”. Regardless, I know I have to open the door.

“Miss Hogen, may I come in?” as if that snide old man needs permission. He would have come in anyway. I walk back down the hall, front door wide open, socks swishing against the carpet. The door closes.

By the time he finds me, I have already busied myself with my mother’s jewelry. Each pearl, each gem, taking me back to a better place. His hand on my shoulder drives the memories away and my hate for him fills the spaces they occupied.

“You know, Miss Hogen, I would be more than happy to send someone to help you know you can’t take everything, right? Just take what you consider your most prized items. The rest will be sold to cover your parents’ final expenses. Miss Hogen? Shall I send someone?” I. Will. Not. Speak. Not to him. He tortures me reminding me over and over that my parents are dead. His hand goes to my shoulder again, “Alyssa, you are just making things harder for both of us. Talk to me and I promise I will try to help.” Try is the key word. He will try because he knows there is nothing he can do to help. When I don’t respond, he heaves an exasperated sigh and leaves. His shoes echoing on wood tell me he is in the kitchen. I can hear him talking on his phone.

My tears betray me and stream down my face like tiny rivers trying to erode through my skin. No, Alyssa, you are stronger than this! But as I finish dismantling my mother’s jewelry box, I know it’s a lie.


I used to spend my weekends laughing. Now I spend them babysitting. Gina, the woman who is being paid by the state to torture me, has four foster children and two kids of her own. The youngest is eight months and the oldest, excluding me, is ten years. You heard of the ‘he** house’, right? Well, this is it. I drop my bag on the floor and throw myself onto my bed.

In the dream, it’s like nothing ever happened. I can hear the music. I see her laughing while he spins her around the room, her dress twirling around her legs. “Mom! Dad!”, they can’t hear my screams though. No one can.

Little boy laughter snatches me out of the dream. I look up to see four year old Devon holding my mother’s music box. “Devon! Put that down!” he is crying as I snatch it out of his chubby fingers. Thankfully no damage was the music box anyway, there is still a screaming four year old sitting on my floor. A sigh escapes my lips as I pick him up and pull him onto my lap. I really do feel bad. Devon is the only kid in this house that doesn’t drive me insane. “I’m sorry, Devy. I didn’t mean it.” His screams have turned into little whimpers now. “Do you want to see how it works?” I take his little grunt to mean yes.

Setting the music box in front of us, I explain to Devon about the key and how it turns the canister. I tell him how the bumps on the canister catch little prongs, causing them to vibrate and resulting in sound. Even though this is all way above Devon’s head, I explain it all, just the way my daddy explained it to me.

Suddenly, I have to get it out. I have this weight pressing down on me and I have to get it off. I need someone to hear my story. I need someone to know about them and to know how they left me there all alone. Even if that someone is just a four year old boy.

“Dev, do you want to know where this box came from?” His eager eyes fixed on me, Devon nods. So I tell him.

“Once upon a time, there was a beautiful little girl. She was the prettiest little girl in the whole world. She looked a lot like me, only she had blonde hair instead of brown. Well, this little girl loved to dance. She would dance from the time the sun rose, to the time it set at night. All her life, the only thing she ever wanted was to dance. And that is the only thing she ever did, even when she was a grown up, and now the most beautiful lady in the whole world. One day, while she was dancing, a man stopped to watch. She didn’t know it then, but she was going to marry that man.

“Their wedding was beautiful. Everybody came to watch. The two were happy and their lives couldn’t have been more perfect. Because they were so happy, they were chosen to take care of a baby. Only very special people got to care for a baby, it was an honor. They named their baby Alea and, with Alea there, things were even more perfect. So perfect, that they won a trophy for being such good parents. This trophy was a symbol of their love. It meant that no matter what happened, they would always be there for each other. This music box was the trophy.

“Everyday the family would dance to the music that drifted from the box. The music brought them together in a way nothing else could. Alea grew up a bit but she still had a long way to go. Even though Alea was still practically a baby, one day her parents didn’t come home. They left her all alone, abandoned her. They didn’t do their jobs. Good parents are there when their children need them.” Devon’s tiny fingers brush my cheek and I realize I’m crying.

With those soft, warm hands touching my face, my mind wanders. It goes back to the happy times, back to when I was loved. The innocence of child like love, their pure, whole, little hearts that have yet to be broken. I loved with that kind of abandon once, with the kind of love that not even death can sever and so I realize my story isn’t done.

“There was something Alea didn’t know. That music box was much more than a trophy, it was magic. After her parents died, Alea was angry and scared. She hated everyone and everything. She was mad at the world because it hadn’t killed her too. She was mad at death because it had taken her parents, but most of all, she was mad at herself because she let it happen. Even though Alea felt hurt and angry, the magic music box knew better. It knew that Alea’s parents loved her more than anything or anyone else in the world. Alea needed to understand this too. So, the music box gave her a message. It played her a song that it wasn’t supposed to play,a song that her parents made up just for her.

“As the box began to play, Alea began to cry. She cried for everything that she had lost: her parents, her home, herself. She cried until she had to more tears left and then she cried some more. The song gave Alea the understanding that, her parents didn’t try to leave her, they LOVED her. They left her their love, held safe, within the trophy that had symbolized it all along.”

Devon’s big, brown eyes find mine and I think he can see straight through to my soul, “It’s otay, Lyssa. It’s otay.” I smile at him through my tears because he’s right, everything’s okay.

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Creamy said...
May 30, 2012 at 4:26 pm
I love this story! It's so descriptive!
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