The little baby girl cried in her cradle. On
and on and on… No one came. In her mind,
and in her heart, a sadness began to form.
There was no one coming forth to prove to
this little lost-child that there was the whole
world out there that wanted her. As she
grew, the sadness continued to grow and no
one showed any interest in her at all.
This innocent baby, with the golden hair and
bright blue eyes, was given the name of
Melanie. Once she had been given her
name, it seemed as if no one felt the need to
do anything else for her. There was the
mother that would occasionally fill a milk
bottle. Although grimy and coated with
dried milk left over from the last few
dried milk left over from the last few
feedings. A mother who would toss the
bottle into the crib for her. A bottle that was
not soothing, just filling.
As if by a miracle, the baby grew.
Learning early on, how to survive. Perhaps
out of retaliation against her mother that
lavished no attention on her. Perhaps her
actual survival would be so, that in the
future, she might find a voice to bring
attention to the level of neglect that had
fallen upon her since birth.
Melanie taught herself to stand while
trying to escape the cage that her mother
called a bed. A short time later, using the
same reasoning, she taught herself to walk,
in an attempt to escape. To be free of this
neglectful place that people might
mistakenly call her home.
Melanie’s good fortune heightened when
one of the neighbors noticed that she was
left alone and called in the authorities. At
this point a Social Services caseworker was
called in to assess the situation – with her
mother assuring the concerned government
employee it is just a mistake; someone else’s
fault. This time, she alleged that a babysitter
caused all this for Melanie’s poor
unfortunate mother. Both mother and child
knew that the babysitter never existed; this
person created in her mother’s mind as the
perfect nameless scapegoat.
The caseworker listened intently to her
story and left after speeches were given, a
series of instructional classes were
scheduled, directions, forcing her mother to
feed her on a regular basis, and the mandate
to find a daycare for her during the day
were insisted upon.
Melanie almost innately knew just how
shallow these meaningless gestures were.
With no other family, there were no family
members, no friends to intervene on her
behalf. There were no Christmas festivities,
no birthday celebration, and no
Thanksgiving dinner. After all, there was
nothing or no one to be thankful for.
Melanie survived against all odds. Once
she turned five, the state demanded that she
must be given an education. The state, just
as the neighbors, those three years before,
provided a gift of freedom to Melanie.
Melanie’s mother received instructions to
provide clothing for her. Clothing that fit
and looked nice for school. She gave her a
small sack of school supplies, even had to
take her by the hand and walk her into a
new building. This was one of the few times
the child had left the house except to go to
the Episcopal daycare down the street from
their apartment. Her excitement knew no
bounds. She felt the flapping butterflies in
her stomach when she woke up and realized
she was free at last – finally, escaping.
Once Melanie began to read, write, count,
and add, her world no longer stopped at the
end of the long shabby living room with the
big door that she rarely passed through.
Provided the tools to make a life out of the
corruption, the ugliness that she had always
known, she soared. Never with
companionship and never with words,
mentally she soared.
Melanie, a shy girl. A girl that reads each
book that appeals to her in the school
library. Leaving her to crave more. She read
romances, history, biographies and the
classics. She read everything she could,
soaking up knowledge like a sponge. She
raced through each grade making the honor
roll. Yet having no one that truly cared
outside the school walls. With
her habit of spending each lonely night
studying subjects that were not on her
schedule in school, she propelled herself
through her classes easily.
Friday, her favorite day at school. Because
she spent the hour after lunch, scanning and
choosing library books that helped her excel
through her current grade level. These
books would open her mind to new
questions, as well as teach her about life’s
There are some people that make it
through their entire school career without
anyone ever noticing their presence. This
seemed to be the fate that Melanie was
destined to have. No one took notice of the
child that had no parents come to the
parent-teacher night. No parent offering to
help with parties or field trips. No parent
answering the phone when the school called.
No one responding when the principal
needed to know if the parent had forgotte n
to sign the permission slip. Without a
permission slip, Melanie would be unable to
attend the Birmingham Symphony
Orchestra’s yearly Matinee performance of
Melanie sat in the office and read a book
the office staff allowed her to check out of
the library. She diligently read, while her
class went on field trips and to special events
without her. Should any of the other
students or the chaperone noticed her, they
would have realized she studied what the
other children were learning in person on
each missed field trip.
The day of the field trip to Helen Keller’s
home, Ivy Green, in Tuscumbia, she
read The Biography of Helen Keller and
gained extensive knowledge of the amazing
woman’s life. All the while never leaving the
little spot in the office. Alone for six hours,
she read about the teacher and the student.
She learned about how Helen and her
teacher, Anne Sullivan, surpassed all
expectations in both their lives and achieved
miraculous heights, simply by believing
they could do so.
The day of the orchestra trip, Melanie
checked out the book on The Nutcracker and
learned about the Mouse King. She lost
herself in the rich storyline of this German
Christmas Eve, adventure. Life was only
worth living while she read. As she
matured, she continued to learn more and
more about the world through pictures and
the written word.
One morning, as she walked to her school,
just as she did on every other school day for
the last eleven years, she was surprised.
Today became different when a car pulled
up alongside. Completely unaware of it
until she heard a voice call out. She
recognized the voice as belonging to a boy
from school, surprised when she heard him
calling her name.
“Melanie! Hey, Melanie, you wanna
Her head jerked up in spite of herself. She
bent over and glanced into the car, surprised
that he remembered her name, much less
would have stopped to offer her a ride.
Blushing, she stammered, “Well, um, well.
“She turned around and checked behind her
back. She swallowed, hoping that her voice
didn’t squeak. “Me? Are you talking to
me?” Her feet were shuffling, starting, and
stopping in confusion as she waited to
confirm he meant her. Trying to decide if he
intended to poke fun at her.
Should she accept? The thoughts whirled
through her brain as she wasn’t sure if she
should acknowledge she even knew this boy
from class. Nevertheless, the thoughts of the
potential ride made her giddy, how
glorious. The racing thoughts kept coming
full circle to the fact that he wanted to let her
ride with him. She wanted to accept the
ride. She wanted someone to know she
existed and now someone did!
She called out, “Yes, I’d love one.”
She surprised herself by saying it, yet, it
had been spoken and he had heard her. Too
late to turn back now. She pondered her
next move walked over to the car and
smiled a genuine, yet shy smile at Robert –
the boy leaning over watching her out the
“Hop in, “he called, as he pushed the
door open from the driver’s seat while
rolling up the windows, with his left hand
on the electric window button.
down carefully and stayed close to the door
which was her custom when she rode in a
car – never trusting that she would complete
the entire trip without having to jump out
and walk. She had been informed by her
mother, “You are antagonistic to the driver;”
on trips to her Pediatrician when she was
younger, she had been told, “Out! Walk
home!” on several occasions. She did not
enjoy remembering the walks home in the
downtown streets. It left her cold.
“Thank you, Robert, “Melanie truly
appreciated the ride.
“Hey, no problem. I pass this way every
day and we could ride together if you want.
No one should walk nowadays.”
Robert seemed to not realize that she had
been told all of her life that she “wasn’t
worth the effort” he was expending. Maybe
he didn’t know that she had been rejected,
loathed, and reviled by her own mother.
Tempted to ask why he bothered to stop for
her and offered her a ride; nonetheless, she
decided not to question his motives and
accept his friendly manner at face value.
“I enjoy walking, I’m completely
accustomed to it. “Melanie tried to sound
sincere, when deep down, she relished the
ride he provided. She watched her familiar
route to their school whizzing past. It sure
made her trip to school quick and easy.
Robert snickered. “You can’t be turning
down a chance to carpool. Shall I tell you
the ecological and environmental reasons we
should carpool? You would be helping me
and the environment out, Mel! Hey, you
mind if I call you Mel?”