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When Words Fail

A little short story

My thumbs were thumping against the steering wheel, head swaying gently, following the addictive beat of the song coming from my speakers. 

I smile, feeling that sensation of happiness that only music can truly cause. 

After a few blocks I pull into my driveway and park. But I don't get out. Not yet. 


I leaned my head against the back of my seat. Closing my eyes, focusing on the final lyrics of the song and letting them take me away from reality. 

Before I know it, the last few syllables grace my ears as the song comes to an end. Sighing, I open my eyes. Place my key in the ignition and turn, killing the engine. 

Stepping out of the car, I remembered the car decal I had bought that morning. Rushing to the back, I had to ensure it was still there.

I let out a sigh of relief as I saw the simple black and white sticker. 


"When words fail. Music speaks."


I mouth the words and peace immediately took over. Standing, I headed towards my door, feeling the music from the radio earlier all over again. 


Once inside, I began my usual routine of turning on Pandora on my phone, connecting to the speakers and finally turning it to the highest volume possible. Dancing my way to my fridge, I grabbed a bottle of water and gulped some down before hearing the intro to one of my all time favorites. 


I don't want to brag, but when I know a song, I really KNOW a song, and the people around me will KNOW that I know it. Music is to me what braille or vibrations are to the blind. It's vital to my existence. To sing, to dance, to FEEL something, is like breathing to me. I just let it take over and I lose myself. 


""Elliee?"


I paused mid hip swing, mid lyric and my eyes flickered to the front door. Jason stood there, leaning promptly against the door frame. A small chuckle escaped his lips. I stuck my tongue out at him and walked back towards the kitchen. I could hear him laughing as he shut the door behind him and followed me. 


"Those were some interesting dance moves. Maybe you could teach me a thing or two, hmm?" 

He elbowed me in the ribs, laughing at his own joke. I rolled my eyes but I felt myself smile. 


I couldn't help it. This boy could pick on me day and night and my feelings would never change. Jason and I had been together for about two years now, our love and bond growing stronger every day. He wasn't just my boyfriend, he was my best friend. Besides music, he's all I really have. 


"You gonna answer that?"


Jason's voice broke my trance along with the ringing of the phone. How long had it been going off? 


I reached to pick it up but Jason beat me to it. Smiling playfully he said, "Hello." That smile faded slowly and the color drained from his face. There was such sorrow and pain in his eyes and suddenly he was handing the phone to me. 


Tenderly my hand reached and the cool touch of my phone hit my skin. I pulled it to my ear, my curiosity and worry skyrocketing. 


"Elliee? Sweetheart, are you there?"


My mom's voice, anxious and cracking, was on the other end. This wasn't her usual bubbly voice that I was always so happy to have grace my ears. Something was wrong. My stomach turned. 


"Yeah. I'm here."

I bit my lip. My nerves were frying. 


"Emily passed away... baby, she was in a really bad car accident."


My mom broke down then, her sobs screaming through the phone. I dropped to my knees, the pain starting in my heart and coursing through the rest of my body. Jason knelt down next to me, his arms around me and our shoulders shaking. No talking happened. Just the echoes of our quiet crying, sounding like the saddest metronome. 


Jason went home a few hours later. Both of us needed time to really mourn and accept what happened on our own. Emily was our music teacher all through middle and high school. Guiding us, connecting with us, and really showing us what music can do in our lives. She had a beautiful voice herself and when she danced the grace and movement was phenomenal. 


I buried my face in my pillow and cursed the world. Why did this have to happen to her? She was so young. It wasn't her time. I threw my pillow across the room and curled into a little ball on my bed, hugging my sides and letting the tears slowly fall. I drifted into a heavy but burdened sleep. 


I awake the next morning to my alarm, the sound of Maroon 5 blaring from my speakers. I groaned and hit the snooze. An eerie bone-chilling silence surrounded me. The horrific news I had received last night came rushing back into my mind and heart. 


Having no more tears left to cry, though, I carefully got up from my bed and began to walk to the bathroom. I stopped halfway when I noticed my pillow that I had thrown last night was still on the floor. I picked it up, only to find a broken picture frame. The glass was cracked almost perfectly down the middle. 

Furrowing my eyebrows, I examined the photo for a moment before realizing it was from my high school graduation. Emily, Jason, and I were smiling back at me, the light in our eyes so bright. The happiness seemed to just seep from the photograph. 

I chewed my lip, not sure whether to smile at happiness captured or mourn over the death of my inspiration and idol. I carefully took the photograph out of the broken frame. A tiny note scrawled in the perfect handwriting on the back caught my eye. 


"Elliee, you're such a wonderful and talented young lady and I know you will reach your dreams and surpass your own expectations. Never let the music of your heart stop, the song of your voice die or the dance of your life end. Keep the song alive little song bird and just remember that when words fail, music speaks!"


Most would cry experiencing what I am right now. Most would crumble and break under the heartache of losing such an important person in their life. 

But I can't.


I have to keep the song alive for Emily. She would want us to keep the playlist of our lives going and when times get tough and the words fail, just let the music speak. That was her favorite saying and words she lived by. 

I smiled then, replaying that saying over and over again in my mind and the way she lit up when she was teaching others her favorite lesson. Music can lessen the pain in life and bring out the happiness in people. 


Feeling more at peace, I gently sat the photograph down on my dresser, showered, and got ready for the day. Music playing loudly over the speakers the whole time. Once I grabbed some breakfast, I headed out the door, humming one of Emily's favorite tunes. I was about to hop in my car when I stopped and walked to the back. 


The black and white rectangle still attached to the bumper practically smiled at me. I traced the letters of the saying, fingers gently touching the smooth surface. I smiled and walked back to my open door. Seatbelt on, music on and volume loud, I backed out of the driveway and onto the road. 


Thumping my fingers on the steering wheel, I thought about how life will throw you twists and turns. How it will sometimes feel like it's even trying to steal the song of your voice away, but Emily taught me words to live by during the rough times. 


When words fail, music speaks, and our lives are far too important and wonderful to endure in silence. 

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