Unknown, Life-Changing Music

By , pawcatuck, CT
Swish. Crash. Shhh...
Those are the noises eleven-year-old Marie Auger heard every minute, every day. Those noises were her only company. She thought of the ocean as her friend. It seemed that whenever Marie was happy, her friend was happy too. “Swish, swish, swish,” it said. Whenever Marie was angry, so was her friend. “Crash! Crash! Crash!” her friend agreed. And whenever Marie was sad, her friend calmed her down. “Shhh...” her friend said in consolation.

Marie had been living in the sand and between the rocks since she was eight years old. She has never had the best memory. Because of that, Marie didn’t know where her parents were, even if they were still alive. But she always loved the ocean, she knew that much. Her old house was on a faraway beach, and the noises lulled her to sleep every night. She couldn’t sleep without ocean waves.
She was standing knee-deep in the ocean, long blond hair waving in the wind, sea-blue eyes closed gently, the extra fabric of her long and flowing dress flapping. It was her only dress. The dress was beautiful with its sand-colored fabric and brown leather belt that tied around. The dress went to her ankles, and the wide sleeves went down to the palms of her hands. Her parents gave it to her when she just turned eight. It was too big, so she couldn’t wear it. She always wore light blue sweatpants that went just below her knees, and a gray T-shirt with a panda on it. She outgrew it after two years, so she had to switch her outfit.
“Why couldn’t my mother and father have left any clues to their whereabouts?” Marie thought aloud, “A postcard wishing me luck for life by myself? They could have given me anything to help. Maybe even a snow globe from where they moved, for all I care. Anything! What do you think?”
“Crash! Crash! Crash!” her friend raved.
“I mean, I’m their daughter, for crying out loud! They should’ve cared enough to give me a crumpled paper with an address. Unless... they didn’t... want me....” Marie trailed off and started sobbing.
“Shhh... shhhhh....” her friend said in attempt to comfort Marie.
“Maybe I should just... just forget about them. If they don’t care about me, then I don’t have to care about them!”
“Swish! Swish!”

“Yeah! Wait. I just got a terrific idea! I’ll find new parents! A nice married couple who want an orphan like me.” Marie was pleased with how smart she was. “And then maybe I could have a brother or a sister, someone to keep me company! I could go to school again and become friends with some of the students! I could get a pet, like a dog or a cat. Or better yet, a fish!”

“Swish! Swish! Swish!”

“First things first. We need people to notice me. Hmmm....” Marie pondered. “Oh, I know! I can go downtown and look at things in their stores. Whatever is the most typical, I will get the opposite!”

“Swish!”

“Aw, man,” she recalled, “I need money to get things from the stores. And don’t remind me about the time I was caught stealing French fries from McDonald’s!” Marie laughed for the first time in quite a few days.

“Swish, swish!” her friend went along with her cheer.

“Well, it’s almost sundown, so I haven’t got a moment to lose. I need to find away to earn money, and then I need to get something noticeable. Wish me a whole lot of luck!”

“Swish!”

“Bye! I’ll be back soon. You can count on that!” With that, Marie walked up the beach until she saw people buzzing around like bees with surfboards, towels, and weird, plastic chairs.

“I could really use some of that luck right now,” she murmured,”Where should I go?”

Just then, a young man in a car parked on the side of the street in front of her. There were some interesting sounds coming from his open window. It sounded pleasant and joyful. But what was it?

“Excuse me, sir,” she started timidly, “what is that noise coming from your car?”

“What? You don’t like it?” the young man said through his window, “Well, if you are so curious about this ‘noise,’ it is called ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ and it’s by The Ramones. Kids these days have no taste in music whatsoever,” then he turned off the car, got out, and headed away.

“Music,” Marie said, slowly, trying out the new word, “m-uuuu-sic.”

She walked down the street and saw a familiar sign ahead. “Borders. That sounds familiar.” She walked a little further until she was directly under the sign and peered through the recently-cleaned window. Books! She thought. The book store will definitely have dictionaries! I can look up the definition of ‘music.’

Marie walked along with her head down as always, but her posture was a little more straight on account of her confidence. She went through the doors, and down to the “Resources” section. And, right there, was the biggest book she had ever remembered seeing. Whoa, she thought. I might need a little help. She peered down the aisle to her left, then the one to her right. Nobody was in either. I don’t think they would want to help a kid look through a dictionary, anyway, especially if she has the reading level of an eight-year-old. They might have to explain the definition to me. Oh, well. I can do it by myself, like everything else.

Marie lifted the heavy cover of the gigantic book and flipped through it until she stopped at the beginning of the M’s. She went a little further, and then found it.

“The art or science of combining vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion,” it said. Well that sounds like it would be fun to make! she thought.

“Excuse me, little girl,” said a young woman dressed in a black pencil skirt and a light purple blouse, “but where are your parents?”

Marie was scared, even though the woman spoke with a soothing voice. She was afraid what would happen if she said that she was alone.

“Little girl, are you alone here?” said the woman.
Marie couldn’t lie. She knew that. She would sound like she was telling a lie. Plus, she didn’t have it in her.
“Hello?”
“I- I have to go,” Marie stuttered, and then bolted out of the store.

**********
Running down the sidewalk, Marie was almost back to the ocean. Why did her plan have to fail? It was perfect. There were no flaws. And who would have guessed a librarian would talk to her about her parents? This was a question that had no obvious answer. But why did Marie run away? Wasn’t that her plan, to get people to notice her? That was her exact plan. But when somebody actually realized that she was alone, Marie just panicked. That’s what was supposed to happen, but it turned her plan in the wrong direction.
About ten yards from her beach, Marie heard noise. More music, she thought. But it sounds a whole lot different from the first music....
She thought of the definition, and saw that they matched up. She was amazed that two types of music could be so different from each other. This music was smooth and upbeat. She listened to the words.


Do you remember we were sittin’ there by the water?

You put your arm around me, for the first time.

You made a rebel of a careless man’s careful daughter.

You are the best thing that’s ever been mine.

“Do you like this music?”

Marie spun on her heels. She was face-to-face with a girl about her age. The girl was carrying a small sheet of metal with a screen on one whole side. The music seemed to be coming from the metal. “Who are you?” Marie asked.

“My name is Abigail Stillman, and I asked you a question.” the girl said, hands on her hips.

“I’m sorry. I was paying attention to your....” she trailed off and gestured with one hand to the metal sheet.

“My iPod. You don’t know what it is? Have you been living under a rock your whole life or something?”

Marie looked embarrassed and looked at the sidewalk below her. Marie knew it was an expression, but she still took it offensively considering it was kind of true. She lived between rocks.

“Sorry. I don’t know why I said that. I guess I’m just really shocked. So, what’s your name?” Abigail asked.

Marie hesitated and wondered if she could trust her. “My name is Marie Auger.” She realized that if she told her anything, then chances were Marie would never see Abigail again.

“That’s a pretty name. And your last name is, too. ‘Auger,’ like the seashell.” Abigail seemed like a nice person. She looked lovely, as well. She had shoulder-length, bright red hair with side bangs. Her face had a few freckles, and her eyes were a nice mixture of green and blue. She was wearing jean shorts that went just above her knees, and a light pink T-shirt with white letters that said “HCO” on the front.

“Okay, back to my first question: Do you like this music? This song is called ‘Mine’ and it’s by Taylor Swift.”

“Yes, it’s very nice and joyful. I wish I could make music with my voice,” Marie was about to daydream, she could feel it.

“Don’t you mean ‘I wish I could sing?’” Abigail smiled.
“Yes, that’s right. I wish I could sing.” Marie looked down, embarrassed.
“Are you tone-deaf?”
“I don’t know. Maybe,” she shrugged.

“Well I’m pretty good at singing,” Abigail stood taller. “Maybe I could coach you. How about we start with this song?” She poked her iPod and somehow made the same song come out of it again. “Repeat after me,” Abigail said, and started singing. “You were in college working part time, waiting tables.” She stopped the music and gestured to Marie dramatically, queueing her to sing.
Marie was hesitant, but she finally sang.
“Wow! You have an amazing voice!” Abigail said with raised eyebrows.
“I guess I do!” Marie was very surprised.
“How did you not know you have such a beautiful sound?”
“I’ve never sang before.”
Abigail stood absolutely still, mouth agape. “How old are you?”
“Eleven...” Marie said, not sure why she was asked her age.
“Me too. But I don’t know any eleven-year-olds who have never sang before. I mean, you must’ve sang, like, ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’, right? ‘Cause that kind of counts as a song, you know.”
“Well, believe it or not, I have never heard any music before. My parents never sang to me or had me listen to music. I don’t know why, but I wish they had let me have a musical experience.”
“Wow, that’s pretty weird. Now I understand why you’ve never sang.” Abigail was still astounded, but she was calm.
So the two girls stood and talked about their lives for half an hour. Marie was comfortable talking to Abigail. She thought that they could actually be friends. But she forgot why she was even in downtown; to get new parents. It was almost sunset when Marie and Abigail started to talk to each other. But the more they talked, the darker it got.
“Aw, man! It’s pretty dark. I need to get going! My mom said for me to meet her back at Borders at seven-forty five,” she glanced at her iPod. “It’s already eight o’ four! Can I meet you somewhere tomorrow?”
“Yeah. How about tomorrow when IHOP opens? We could grab a bite to eat.”
“It opens at eight o’ clock a.m. on Sundays, so let me think... yep, that works! Tomorrow. IHOP. Eight o’ clock. Okie dokie, see you then!”
“Alright! Sounds like a plan! Bye!” Abigail waved to Marie as she started jogging away.
“See ya!” Marie waved back.
Marie watched with content as her new friend ran down the sidewalk to the book store, until she was blocked by the rushing people.
Wait a second, Marie thought, why are people leaving? Just as that crossed her mind, a man turned off the lights to a store a couple yards away from her, closed the door behind him, and locked the door.
Oh, no! Everything is closing! Marie was devastated. Why did she have to get caught up with some girl? Now the plan won’t work, all because of Abigail, she realized. If she’s my friend, then she will always want to see me. And that won’t happen if I get a new family with a new house! She would be so upset, and so would I. I can’t possibly do that!
Marie dragged her feet back to her beach, head never facing upward, a few little tears running down her face. If only she’d never met Abigail....

**********
“Why did I have to let myself get distracted?” Marie said through heaving sobs. “Why did I let her pull me in? Now I can never get new parents!”
“Shhh... shhhhhh...” her friend said soothingly.
“I know I shouldn’t brood over this, but I can’t live here forever! I have to leave. I have to!”
“Little girl,” came a familiar voice.
“Mom, her name is Marie!” came an even more familiar voice.
Marie was reluctant to turn. Maybe they would think she didn’t want to talk and they would go away. But she couldn’t resist. She needed to find out who was talking. The voices rang in her head. She finally turned, as normal as she could.
“Marie, I have something to tell you.” It was Abigail. And the woman standing next to her was the woman from Borders. Abigail was her daughter? Marie never could have guessed!
“Yes?” Marie was trying to guess why they were at her beach, and how they found her.
“Well, I told my mom about you. She apparently asked you where your parents were when you were in Borders, and you just ran away.”
“Yes, that is true. Why are you here?”
“Well, my mom saw you walk down to the beach alone when it got dark. I was with her and I noticed you. I said ‘Mom, that’s Marie!’”
“Well then why did you follow me?”
“Normally, when eleven-year-olds are out after dark, they have their parents with them,” Abigail’s mother said. “No descent guardian in their right mind would ever let their children go out of the house by themselves at night, so we followed you. We figured that when we got to your house, we would talk to whoever was taking care of you and give them a piece of our minds. But, instead, your path led us here.”
“And your point is...” Marie was grateful of Abigail and her mother’s concern, but she didn’t want to talk to them any longer.
“I’ll tell her,” Abigail told her mother. She turned to Marie and said, “We want you to live with us!”
Marie was dumbstruck. She couldn’t think of anything to say, let alone think at all. Then she thought of her friend.
“Thanks for the offer, but I want to live here. I’m perfectly fine by myself.”
“I can tell that’s not true, Marie. Please don’t lie to us. We’re trying to help you,” Abigail sounded like she was pleading with Marie. “We want you to have a good life.”
Marie felt happy that they were trying to help, but she was sad that she had to leave her friend. “Can I come back here ever again?” Marie asked.
“Of course!” Abigail’s mother said.
“Well, if you insist, then I suppose I could live with you.”
Abigail almost tackled Marie to the ground. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Abigail was ecstatic. Marie was too, but she didn’t show it as much. Abigail wouldn’t stop hugging her. Marie couldn’t help but hug her back. It was the first hug she had received in three years.
“Alright, ladies,” Abigail’s mom said, “Let’s take all this happiness and shove it in the backseat. I will fill out the adoption paperwork tomorrow.”
“You mean, I’m going to be your daughter?” Marie was overwhelmed with joy. Being someone’s daughter made the amount that much bigger.
“And my sister!!!” Abigail was crying with excitement, still hugging Marie.
Marie was speechless. Was she really going to be part of a family? Or was this whole day a dream? She felt Abigail squeezing her lungs. This had to be real!
“Okay, let’s hit the road!”
With that, they ran to a white Ford Focus and drove to a big two-story beach house, about ten minutes away, and started the first chapter of Marie’s amazing life.

**********
Two years later, Marie changed her last name from Auger to Stillman, legally. She went to school at Seaside Middle school with her adopted sister, and best friend, Abigail. They were an inseparable pair. Their mother, Margeret Stillman, was a single mother, which would never change. She didn’t want anybody interfere with her and her daughters’ great relationships. Marie and Abigail did have other friends, but they were each other’s best friends. Marie was never by herself again for the rest of her life.





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