MERRY MELODIES

Published October 27, 2018, 2:28 PM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

By Kennie Coleen Ruben

Angel of God, my guardian dear.
To whom God’s love commits me here.
Ever this day be at my side,
To light and guard, to rule and guide…
Amen.

Joseph couldn’t remember who the owner of the doll was, how it got to him, or why it was given to him. All he could remember was he woke up next to it at the library, where he was hiding from Carlos and his gang of bullies, unaware that he had fallen asleep there.
Despite the confusion, he slightly smiled when he read the sticky note on the doll’s forehead.

SMILE.

He picked up the rag doll and examined it. It looked like a chubby girl in a blue dress, with braided red hair. It was smiling cheerfully at him. He continued examining it and found a string at the back. He pulled it and the doll suddenly began to sing.

I love you, you love me,
We’re a happy family…

Joseph shook his head but was still smiling. He continued examining the doll while listening to its song. There seemed to be something hard inside the doll.

With a great big hug,
And a kiss from me to you,
Won’t you say you love me, too…

There. A zipper. On the doll’s left side.

He opened it. Inside he saw a notebook, small and hard, roughly the size of his palm. It was a dark green one. Joseph read the title aloud before opening it.

MEMORIES OF MY KUYA EMMANUEL AND ELLIE

He flipped it open and read the first page.

Angel of God, my guardian dear.
To whom God’s love commits me here…

Joseph stopped reading the prayer and flipped to the next page and read.

NOVEMBER 13
Today is my ninth birthday. Kuya woke me up very early and gave me this beautiful notebook. It’s green with ink designs. I like it. He said that I’m a big girl now. He told me to write on it like a diary, but only what happens inside the house. After that he greeted me a very happy birthday and hugged me tight. He said he would bring me cake tonight when he gets home. I can’t wait!

Joseph turned to the next page.

Kuya isn’t home yet. But that’s okay because daddy is here. Daddy is drinking again. I hope Kuya wouldn’t come home soon. Daddy is drunk. He will hit Kuya again.

NOVEMBER 14
Kuya woke me so early again. It was still dark. He said don’t bother opening the lights. Then I saw him light something in his hand.

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday, dear Emily,
Happy birthday to you!

Kuya sang me a birthday song, even though yesterday was my birthday. He told me to make a wish before blowing the candle. I did.
I blew the candle and waited for him to ask me what my wish was. He didn’t.
I asked him to turn on the lights now. I heard him sigh. He turned the lights on and I saw his face. There was a black mark on his left eye and his lips were swollen.

Don’t ask questions, Kuya said. Then he gave me a wrapped gift. I opened it and it’s a rag doll. A beautiful rag doll. Kuya took it and pulled something behind it. It sang ‘I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family.’
I love you, Kuya said.

Joseph stopped reading and looked at the doll. “This must be Emily’s.”

Behind him and unnoticed, something moved from the bookshelves. Watching. Like me.

NOVEMBER 15
I hate daddy. I hate him because he is always hurting Kuya. He and grandma. Whenever daddy was drunk and he would see Kuya, he would punch Kuya in the face hard. I’m scared. Why is daddy hurting Kuya?

Then whenever grandma sees Kuya outside, she would say aloud that he is a despicable kaksuckr and that he should be burned in hell because he is gay. What is a despicabel kaksuckr? And no one should burn in hell for being gay, right? I asked my teacher what gay was and she said that the word meant merry or happy. Why does grandma want Kuya burned in hell because he is happy? I hate them both.

MERRY-MELODIESKuya is away most nights. He said he’s working at a restaurant that only opens at night. After school, he’s always with me. We are always playing with his gift.
I love the doll Kuya gave me. She sings different songs. Every pull of the string was a different song. I gave her my nickname Ellie.

Joseph looked at the doll again. He took it and pulled the string.

I love you, you love me…

Joseph seemed confused. A different doll perhaps? Nah.

NOVEMBER 16
Grandma was at the hospital. She fell down the stairs. The neighbors said it was a trajegy. I saw it all. I was playing with Kuya and Ellie near the stairs and I pulled her string. Kuya and I were delighted when she sang a new song. I knew the song, we always sing it at school.

Jack and Jill went up the hill,
To get a pail of water,
Jack fell down and broke his crown
And Jill came tumbling after.

There. I knew the song by heart. I could even write it. After we sang it, there was a loud crash and grandma was lying down the floor. She was screaming MY EYE! MY EYE! and there was lots of blood and broken plates. There was a knife stuck in her left eye and she was shaking. Daddy came running down the stairs. Kuya went to help him but Daddy punched Kuya in the face and said don’t touch her, you kaksuckr! He shouted for help and the neighbors came. They put grandma in the car. Kuya and I went to my room with Ellie after that.

Joseph couldn’t see the three pairs of eyes silently watching him, planning something bad for him. Well, I could.

That made us four pairs of eyes.

NOVEMBER 17
I couldn’t find Ellie. When I came home from school, she was gone. I looked for her everywhere. In the sala, in the kitchen, in the bathroom downstairs, but I still couldn’t find her. I looked upstairs, too. In Daddy’s room, in Grandma’s, but she was not there. She must have walked to somewhere not allowed, she moves, you know? So I decided to look in Kuya’s room.

Kuya’s room was dark. The wall was full of black drawings of strange stars and shapes. There were black candles, too. There was also an altar with lots of black and red candles with an image of a man-goat. But I still couldn’t find Ellie. Kuya wasn’t there, too. Or I thought. But he called my name. Behind me, he was suddenly there.

He said come here, Emily. And we went out of his room. I asked him what were those in his room and he said they’re just nothing. Just deesayns. He asked if I was looking for Ellie and there she was with Kuya! I pulled her string and she went,

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
oh my darling Clementine.
You were gone and lost forever,
dreadful sorry, Clementine.

I like the new song. But after that, our front door went BLAG! And Daddy was there shouting Kuya’s name. I wanted Kuya to hide but he didn’t. He just said go to your room, Emily. But I couldn’t. Daddy would punch Kuya again. Daddy was shouting kaksuckr and gay again. He found us and punched Kuya’s face hard again. Kuya’s mouth got full of blood. Daddy was shouting and punching Kuya. He said Kuya killed Grandma. He said Kuya pushed Grandma off the stairs but that’s not true! I saw it! That’s not true! I was with Kuya. We were only playing with Ellie. Kuya did not push Grandma. It was a trajegy. Kuya did not do anything. It wasn’t his fault!
I hugged Ellie and prayed. Please help Kuya. Please save Kuya. Pull her string Emily, Kuya said. I pulled it and Ellie sang a new song. She sang what we would sing at church with the other children.

Making melody in my heart,
Making melody in my heart,
Making melody in my heart,
unto the king of kings.

Ellie was still singing but thank goodness daddy stopped hurting Kuya. He stopped screaming and he also stopped moving.

So thumbs in—
elbows out—
knees bend—
feet apart—
turn around—
tongues out…

Daddy was suddenly shaking. He raised his arms and made an approve sign with his hands and stabbed his eyes. He didn’t stop. There was a plop plop sound and his eyes popped out. He screamed. His arms and knees were bending odd angles like someone was twisting them or trying to remove them. He screamed more. Then he turned at the mirror in the hall and smashed his head against it. The mirror broke and he grabbed the biggest shard. What’s happening to him?

He turned toward me. His eyes were still dangling then he smiled. Then Daddy used the mirror to slice his throat. He sliced and sliced and opened his mouth and something long plopped to the floor. It wiggled and looked like a giant worm. It was red and pink.

Making melody in my heart,
Making melody in my heart,
Making melody in my heart,
unto the king of kings.

“So what have we here?!” Someone grabbed the notebook Joseph was reading. Two pairs of hands also grabbed him from behind.
Carlos and his gang of bullies.
“Let’s get that ninny behind the school,” said Carlos, grinning from ear to ear, probably anticipating the glee he would feel while beating poor Joseph.
“What about this doll?” asked one of Carlos’ friends.
“What? Are you a ninny, too?” asked Carlos.
The friend threw the doll like he was burned. They immediately went out of the library, probably to beat poor Joseph up.
Poor Joseph.
And poor Ellie.

I went out of my hiding place and bent to pick Ellie up. I unzipped her side pocket and pulled out a small red notebook. Red. The color of blood.

THE BULLIED’S MEMOIR. Poor little Ellie, Kuya will be worried. But let’s save poor Joseph first, okay?

I smiled and pulled her string.

Three blind mice, three blind mice,
See how they run? See how they run?
They all ran after the farmer’s wife,
Cut off their tails with a butcher’s knife—
Have you ever seen such a sight in your life
As three blind mice?

 
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