When Melody was five years old she got a goldfish named Ollie. Melody believed that Ollie’s life was even worse than hers was. All he could do was swim around and around his little bowl with his mouth opening and closing.
Melody identifies with Ollie, because she sometimes feels trapped in her body, unable to communicate. She images that Ollie also wishes for freedom.
When Melody was seven Ollie jumped out of his bowl. Melody screamed for her mother but she didn’t come. Melody tried to save Ollie, and she pulled the fishbowl onto the carpet, hoping the water from the bowl would keep him from dying, but it did not. Eventually Melody’s mother came upstairs, but she didn’t understand what happened—Melody’s mother thought Melody had knocked over the bowl, with Ollie in it, on purpose. Melody’s mother assumed Ollie was happy in his life in his bowl, but Melody wasn’t so sure. Looking back on this memory later, Melody still feels guilty that she was unable to save Ollie.
Ollie’s life in his small fishbowl reminds Melody of her own limited ability to interact with the world. His death further underscores what Melody can and cannot do. When Ollie jumps out of his bowl, Melody is reminded that she cannot move, even to save something she cares deeply about, and she cannot speak, even to call for help. What’s worse is that Melody’s mom believes that Melody killed the fish, which is insulting and hurtful to grieving Melody.
On Melody’s eighth birthday, her parents gave her a golden retriever puppy. Melody named the dog Butterscotch after her favorite candy. Butterscotch is a good dog; she sleeps at Melody’s feet every night and knows that Melody loves her even if Melody can’t say it. A few months after Melody got Butterscotch she was sitting in the living room watching The Wizard of Oz and fell out of her wheelchair. Butterscotch made sure she wasn’t hurt, and scratched at the door until Melody’s mother came to check on them. Sitting watching the movie afterwards, Melody wondered what she’d ask the Wizard in The Wizard of Oz for. She decided she’d want to be able to sing and dance.
Butterscotch becomes a member of Melody’s extended caring family. She is another individual who cares about Melody, and will go out of her way to make sure that Melody is safe and happy. Watching the Wizard of Oz gives Melody an opportunity to think about how her life would be different if she could wish away some aspects of her disability. She doesn’t wish to be “normal,” but just wishes that she could better express herself through song and dance.