It had only been a few days since Melatiah and Anne had lived at the lemon-drop house. Only a few days since Abigail Beaumont had cooked for them and looked after Anne. Abigail had often asked of life in Charleston, and Melatiah had described the unruly and inpatient colonists with whom he lived near. The Stamp Act had brought great grief among the colonists, requiring taxes on stamps and other small goods to be payed to England from citizens in the colonies. Melatiah could tell that something big was going to happen soon; the colonists began to come together in small meetings and express their anger with each other about the taxes.
Once, Melatiah had even attended such a meeting. He was swallowed up in the colonists' rage; yelling, crowding, and even schemes. It was all one reason why Melatiah wanted to escape Charleston. Like the slaves who were treated like dirt, Melatiah had desired to escape to the North once again.
Abigail displayed quite an interest in the happenings. Her catlike eyes widened with wonder, fear, and interest. On the first night, she had let Melatiah sleep in the master bedroom, but he had insisted after that night that she have it back; however, Melatiah was drawn to the very room.
One early morning, when Abigail was still sleeping, Melatiah peered in. Tiptoeing quietly, he gazed at the dresser and sighed.
The master bedroom was not as he had remembered it so long ago. Where there had once been an infant's crib, there was now a wooden carved dresser, filled with useless trinkets (at least to a man). Sweet fragrances, bottles filled with disgusting liquid, day old tea, an oil lamp, an old candle. Melatiah knew that Aphrodisia had used a fragrance. His throat tightened.
Melatiah felt out of place. He had no need for these feminine sentiments; these useless bottles of perfume, the bottles that beckoned him closer only to leave a stench in his nose that made him sick. Tea that left a dull taste in his mouth. Candles that would not light a room. He needed something else.
He needed possibility; not doubt. He needed a burst of color; not a thin line of blandness. Though these thoughts were like seeds that could not find a patch of rich ground in his mind, he vaguely realized they were there. Aphrodisia had shown him possibility. Without her he was living in a stenciled-in world; a world he was struggling to out.
He needed a world where there was no limit...
Dear cousin stirred beneath the covers. She inhaled deeply and pushed the blankets away from her body, sitting up in bed.
"Uh, Melatiah?" Abigail was surprised. "Cousin, what are you doing in here?"
Melatiah furrowed his brow. "I'm sorry, Abigail. I'm really not sure why I entered. I just... I just... I just needed to think."
"Oh." The look on her face said she did not comprehend. "Well, in that case, good luck thinking. I'll leave you to your thoughts." Abigail started to leave the room.
"Wait. You trust me in your room alone?"
"Should I not?"
The question baffled him so much that he was left speechless for a moment.
"Melatiah, I am not clueless. I have no valuables here. Nothing you would want." With that, she left the room, leaving her cousin to his muddled thoughts.
"Good afternoon, dear," Abigail said later that day.
For the first time in the days that Anne had arrived in Detroit, she smiled. But she did not speak.
Melatiah was concerned. Anne had not spoken a word since they had arrived. She had not even smiled (until now), and she rarely looked at her father in the eyes. Abigail wanted to help the child. Comfort her. Coax her into talking again. Melatiah would start to get upset if Anne did not continue talking again.
"Anne, my sweet, would you like a ginger cookie for dessert after dinner?" Abigail offered hopefully.
Smiling, Anne nodded. She even laughed.
Abigail would not give up. She had to get Anne to talk again. Why was Anne staying silent?
"Well, that's good that you want one, but you must ask for it politely. Can you ask for it?"
Anne stopped smiling. She pursed her tiny lips and looked off into the distance. It seemed to Abigail that Anne was trying to decide something.
Anne looked back at Abigail and stared at her aunt doubtfully.
"If you ask nicely, I'll even give you a spoonful of molasses!" Abigail pleaded, clasping her hands together with hope.
Anne pouted. But slowly, the pout dissipated. Anne opened her mouth slowly, and Abigail could see her forming the words silently. The child began to relax and Abigail swore she could see a hint of a smile on the young girl's face. Anne was about to speak when Melatiah charged down the steps.
"Anne talking yet?" He asked eagerly.
Anne was startled. Abigail watched her niece's face tighten with fear; the blueberry eyes filled with tears as Melatiah drew closer. Anne started to cry and whimper. Abigail stood up, turned on an oil lamp, as it was getting dark, and turned to her cousin.
"What are you doing, Abigail? I thought you were trying to get her to talk? I come down here and my daughter's in tears!" Melatiah yelled.
"Cousin, I was. She almost spoke to me, but then you came down here and she started crying."
Melatiah was enraged. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"You tell me. Why does your daughter shut down to everyone when you come in the room?" Abigail shot back. "Why is fear marked all over her face when she sees you?"
"I do not know, Abigail. You are spending so much time with her, maybe you're the one who is influencing her about untruthful things!"
"Excuse me? I'm spending time with her because you aren't! Instead, you walk around in MY room while I'm SLEEPING, and you claim to be THINKING! Why aren't you with your daughter? Melatiah, she's scared. She's terrified. I suggest that you do something. Something that does not involve yelling!" Abigail stalked away.
Anne sat in a damp puddle of urine, shaking. Melatiah did not want to admit it, but much of what Abigail had said was true. He had not been there for Anne. He was scaring her. Maybe he was the cause of her silence.
As he stepped up to pick up his daughter, he saw pieces of Aphrodisia in her face and features.
"Anne, it's okay. I'm sorry. Can you speak to me?" Melatiah whispered.
Anne could not. She wanted to say something. She wanted to make him happy. But she could not bring herself to bring words out of her mouth. She was still scared of him. She did not trust him. She decided right then that she would never speak to anyone again.
Anne had almost broken the silence that gripped her in fear. She almost spoke to Abigail. But now, Anne promised herself to stay silent forever, no matter how much her father loved her. Silence seemed safe to Anne. Noise was dangerous.
*The Antique Legacy*
A NOTE FROM XTREMEVAMPIREBAT:
Hello readers and lurkers! I was updating the settings for this blog and I found that no one can comment anonymously; you have to have an account of some sort. I'm so sorry if some of you have wanted to comment but haven't been able to. It's fixed now, so you don't have to have an account to comment. It can be anonymous now, too :)
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