Excerpt of the Week
A selection from The Days of Song and Lilacs by Mary Beth Sartor Obermeyer, Chapter 10 Mabel...Mabel:
My mother lowered her head over the steering wheel and peered at the road, as though it'd be easier to talk to the squirrel swinging in the tree than to her daughter. "Put the hat box on the floor and sit still," she said, in an insistent voice. "Listen to me."
I slid my bottom to the edge of the seat and thudded my crossed feet on the case. I banged my head on the seat on purpose.
"Something happened last night. Daddy got a call," my mother said, still staring ahead.
I scrunched my hair against my ears. I sucked the ends of my hair ribbon in my mouth, so I wouldn't breathe loud.
"It's Mabel," my mother said, slow and crisp. It was like my dad giving a shot. It just kept coming and it was sharp. "Mr. Patten called last night."
Now why would my dance teacher call? We both stared ahead in silence. The elm seeds whirred against the windshield.
"Mabel had a stroke during the night," she said.
I waited. I needed more. Stroke of midnight? Strike of lightning?
"We'll go see her as soon as she's ready." My mother inhaled deeply and her eyes checked mine. "They say she can't move her left side. She might never move it."
My mother's pretty voice was apologetic, like she was sorry to have to tell this. Mom was always strong and sure, but now her fair face was gray.
I searched the far distance, past where she could see. I pressed my forehead on the side window. My neighborhood was still there. My school had slapped its glass and doors shut, not telling anything. My nose dripped, annoying.
"Mabel," my mother said. The name came out and up with bubbles, barely past her throat. My eyes brimmed and burned. "Don't...Mary Beth. It isn't ...it can't be helped." My mother's eyes were dry, so large she might have had toothpicks propping them open. They were panicked, not mean. She pressed the heels of her hands on the wheel. Like she'd for sure give me a hug if she wasn't driving.
So I talked. "I knew Mabel's eyes didn't look right. I should have said something," I said. The shrinking black dots. "She'll be so bored without music."
And. I'd have to start all over again. My sister Donna Jean left for college when I was barely seven, out the door she'd gone, with her music. Donna Jean had been my accompanist, too, on hand day and night. And I missed her but she came home for Christmas and summers. Nothing like this.
"We're going to the music store. New music will do us good. Your eyes will be red if you cry right now." My mother spoke softly but she delivered, always practical.
Click Here to find out more about Mary Beth's amazing sparkle, dance, and staged filled childhood, and the journey she must go through to find the music again.