“Unwanted, Wanted” — a short story by Katelynn Rogerson (age 13) and third-place winner of the Turning Point Story Contest.
Melody shuddered in the fierce wind of October, hating how her hands shook. When they shook, it showed how she was weak. When they shook, it proved everything they said about her to be true.
But she couldn’t think about it. When she thought of them it reminded her of what she was about to do, and thinking about it too long was just begging those snarling feelings of hurt and anger and fear to come. They had darkened her life long enough, and she was ready to break free from them.
Instead of focusing on that, Melody focused solely on the ground. That’s where she often found her eyes wandering. When people spat at her, called her what she really was—an orphan, the ground was always there. Solid, comforting, still. It never called her names. It never told her lies. But… they weren’t lies.
She truly was an orphan. Once, long ago, her biological parents had given up on her, before she even remembered existing. She didn’t feel like she was existing now. She moved. She walked. She talked. But she didn’t live. It was last week, after a particularly cruel insult tossed to her by Jared and Melissa that made her wonder: why should they be allowed to stop her from living?
Why couldn’t she go to school and focus solely on the delight of learning new things? Why should she be forced to fail tests when all she wanted was to show the teachers how truly bright she was? That’s why she was waiting. Waiting for those friends to walk out of school. Waiting to show them bravery came in all forms, and today she was going to be brave by telling them the truth.
Words were a powerful thing—that Melody knew. She knew all too well how they could break, yet also how they could heal brokenness. She hoped, despite it all, that she would use her words for the better as she grew.
Melody’s toes curled in her shoes as she waited, nervously leaning on the bike rack. She listened to the wind as it whispered encouragement in her ear, she breathed in the fresh air of the park she was meeting her ‘friends.’ I can do this. I can do this. So focused was she on her encouraging chant that she didn’t hear the clatter of bikes falling to the concrete ground, and it wasn’t until she felt a tap on her shoulder that she looked up.
Melody’s stuck her hands in her pocket. Now wasn’t the time for fear. She gulped, shoved her bright red hair out of her eyes, and stared at the five people who had made her life their own. They had taken it away from her like they would pick a flower, press it into a book, and force it to turn brown and ugly and shriveled—a shell of what it used to be.
“I wanted to talk to you, because I don’t.” Her voice was too squeaky. Her words made no sense. They were snickering now, smiling cruelly at her. Melody wanted to run—she wanted to flee, but her adoptive parent’s words came to her. We named you Melody because you’ve always had the prettiest voice, using it for encouraging and loving people. You have a melody in your eyes that begs people to listen.
She used those words now. “You’ve been cruel to me because my biological parents didn’t want me. Because my ‘real’ parents thought I was a mistake. But I’m here to tell you that, if anything, I’m the one who’s lucky out of all of us. I’m lucky because I’ve been given to my real parents, the ones who care more about me than anyone else will.”
Tears were welling in Melody’s eyes, but she brushed them away, along with the small laughs that came from the strangers before her. “And if you want to treat me like I’m lesser, go ahead. Keep calling me useless, and worthless, and unworthy of love. But I want you to know that yes, I hear it. Yes, I hear that you want me gone. Yes, I hear that you hate me for being unwanted and wanted again. But I always want you to know that no matter how hard it is, I also forgive you. You are loved, and I hope one day each of you sees that. But not by me. Because this,” Melody shuddered and drew a line in the air with her finger, dividing herself from the dumbfounded kids, “is over.”
Without listening to the baffled responses, Melody grabbed her bike, hopped on it, and peddled home. Her real home, with her real parents. For the first time in a long time, Melody truly smiled. The pain was still there. It would never truly leave her, but it was no longer a large shadow, clouding her every thought.
She was surprised at how using her words, her melody, had made her feel. She was no longer a bird with wings pinned to the ground. She was now a bird with free wings, soaring far higher than she ever had before. She felt loved. Contented. But most of all, she felt at peace.
Congrats on third place, Katelynn! I was impressed by Melody’s courage in your story. Keep up the great writing!