Melody explains that she can’t walk or talk. She has cerebral palsy, which makes her body stiff, affects her balance, and prevents her from holding anything in her hands. She can use a TV remote and operate an electric wheelchair, but she needs the wheelchair to move anywhere. Melody imagines how she looks to the world. She’s small for her age, and she sits in a pink wheelchair. She has very little control over her body, and sometimes she has fits where she flails and kicks. She has curious eyes, dimples, and a pretty smile, but she knows people don’t always take the time to notice her face, or even to ask her name.
Melody can remember being a baby, being bathed by her mother and watching her dad record her on his camcorder. She realizes now that her father was waiting for developmental milestones, like her first steps, which she never took. Even though as a baby Melody wasn’t able to walk or talk, she was hyper-aware of the world around her, and she is able to recall it many years later. She remembers her parents playing music, which was extra special for her because she has synesthesia. Melody’s mother loves classical music, her dad loves jazz, and she loves country.
Melody showcases her perfect memory, which is much clearer and goes back much further than is strictly “normal.” This showcases the divide between her body, which doesn’t work the way it should, and her mind, which works even better than many able-bodied children. Melody also emphasizes the importance of her parents, whose love and attention have made her life more bearable.
Melody especially loves the song “Elvira,” by the Oak Ridge Boys. The first time the song ever came on the radio, Melody was so excited she screeched. Her mother could tell she was agitated but Melody was too young to understand why she loved the song, or to explain to her mother what she was feeling.
This is an early example of Melody’s struggles with language. While later she is unable to communicate because of her cerebral palsy, here Melody cannot communicate because she is a baby.
Melody admits that her near-perfect memory is both a blessing and a curse. She remembers uncomfortable feelings, but is unable to share any of them. More than anything, however, Melody remembers words, and because she can’t use them, she understands how powerful they can be, and what an important tool of self-expression language is. She loves both of her parents, but for her entire life has been unable to tell them, in words, what she loves about them.
Because of her disability, Melody’s memory is as frustrating as it is amazing. Since she cannot speak, she has no one to share her memories with, and because she has so little control over her body, a disproportionate number of her memories are of uncomfortable situations, physically and emotionally.