Onio by Linell Jeppsen

Chapter 1

Melody Carver stood under the flickering sodium light and lit a cigarette with shaking fingers. Other tobacco refugees stood in the shadows, murmuring softly and staring out at the falling snow. It was 12:35 in the morning…forty-five minutes after the death of her mother from lung cancer.

Mel sighed in disgust and ground the butt in the ashtray before heading back inside Deaconess Hospital to make final arrangements for her mom, Angela Carver. She was assured that the body would make its way safely back home to Republic, if she would only sign here… and here.

The lights in the cancer ward hurt her eyes. Mel suddenly felt frightened by the shadowed glimpses of patients on the ward, and the erratic lightning strikes on the monitors that helped keep the stricken patients alive and kicking for another dose of chemo or radiation therapy.

Frightened, she acknowledged, and angry too. Those same modern, medical miracles of technology had failed her mother. Although she was happy…truly grateful…that many of these people would survive their ordeal with the big C, Mel resented the fact that her own mom had not. And why? she raved, walking into the patient room to gather up the meager belongings left behind by Angela’s passing.

Her mother had never smoked (well, except for a little pot when she was younger), didn’t drink alcohol, and ate only the most healthy foods. She had worked out regularly, stating that the body was God’s temple and should be treated as such. Her mom was the picture of health and glowed like a Madonna fresco: that is, until lung cancer robbed her of all vitality, and eventually her life, at the age of forty-five.

Mel grabbed her mom’s backpack and stuffed it full of nighties, underwear, a toothbrush, and a couple of books and magazines. She looked around and found some hand lotion, talcum powder, and a discarded earring. Grabbing the two Get Well cards off the windowsill, Mel paused, swallowing the tears that threatened to swamp her in grief.

Angela Carver was the light of Mel’s life, her best friend and most loyal fan. They had never had much money, and after Mel’s father left, stating that he had neither the time nor patience for a handicapped child, they were mostly left alone. Angela was an only child…both of her parents had perished in an automobile accident.

So it had been a team of two, and for the most part Mel was happy with the arrangement. Looking at the two lonely get well cards though—one of which was brought in by Mel herself, and the other by one of Mel’s case-workers—brought home just how alone in the world they really were.

A soft touch made her jump and gasp aloud.

“It’s for the best, honey,” Mrs. Gilford croaked. “Your mamma is at peace now.” Those few words sent the old woman into a fit of deep, rasping coughs. Mel cringed. She could not hear the coughing noises, but she could see the tears that streamed from Ada’s eyes and how red her face had become. Mel picked up the call button, ready to signal a nurse, but Ada shook her head.

“I shouldn’t try and talk so loud. I just wanted you to know…to understand.”

Mel watched the old woman’s mouth and nodded. “Thank you,” she whispered, hoping that she got the words right.

A high fever in infancy had damaged Melody Carver’s ear canals. She was considered legally deaf, although she could hear things…sort of. It sounded to her as though all the oceans of the world were roaring through her ears all of the time. The spoken voice blared like a car horn and the tiniest whisper boomed back at her like a trumpet. Now she wore hearing aids to drown out the constant cacophony, and was more comfortable with complete silence than trying to decipher the incessant howl of the world around her.

Her mom had taught her to read lips, but even though Mel was great at signing, talking out loud was difficult. No matter how hard she tried, she mangled the words together into a hash of indecipherable syllables, earning her scorn and painful pinches when she was a child and a certain pitiable disregard from her peers as she grew into adulthood. She was introverted to begin with, and eventually her disability drove her into a cocoon of solitude, enlivened only by her beloved mother and the occasional caseworker that specialized in the hearing impaired.



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Genre – Fantasy/Romance

Rating – PG13

More details about the author & the book

Connect with Linell Jeppsen on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://neljeppsen.weebly.com/


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