Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A Shooting in a Small Town, Part Two

Excerpt from How I Grew Up
Melanie Stewart's life was blown apart in mere moments one night in January, 1954, when her brother-in-law entered her home and shot and killed three family members. Not even two weeks later she auditioned for her high school's production of Carousel and was cast in the leading role as Julie Jordan, and went onstage only weeks later. Here's another excerpt from How I Grew Up.
     Krissy was one of my closest friends, but I didn’t think she had ever had anything really difficult to have to deal with. Her life was very much the way mine had been before my parents had been murdered. Lena had a lot of responsibility. Her life was not easy. Hearing about all the things she did for her brothers and sisters made me think there was more I should try and do for my nieces and nephews. It was like Krissy was Melanie then, and Lena was Melanie now. I was seeing myself differently; I had to, because my role in my family had changed so much.
     I talked about this with Mrs. Willis. She nodded when I mentioned Lena. “Melanie, how nice that you’ve made a new friend,” she said. I told her about Tony and the talk we had. I didn’t tell her about Jamie, though. I figured that was something better kept to myself.
     Mrs. Willis told me that everything I was dealing with was completely understandable and I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. She told me to be kind to myself and not expect too much. She told me not to be surprised if I had a lot of emotional ups and downs, especially once the play was over. She asked me how Carousel was going, and I was happy to talk with her about that.
     Having Mrs. Willis to talk to was more important to me than I realized. I could not have known how long it would take me to process all the things that had happened to me. It was still hard for me to accept that my parents would never again be part of my life. Sometimes I would be driving on the street where our house was, and almost stop the car to go into my house. For a moment I was back in the past when I had lived there with two loving parents. Then I would realize with a start that I didn’t live there anymore and drive on. I wondered when I would stop doing things like that, because it always made me feel as if there were a hole in my heart.
     Being in the show was what helped me the most, because I could be Julie Jordan for three hours. I really liked being Julie. Rehearsals were my escape.
How I Grew Up is available on Amazon, paperback and Kindle. 
Kindle edition is only $3.99.

Carousel, East Stroudsburg H.S. South, 2013