Sunday, August 30, 2015

Chapter Two - Melody

(Links to chapters in chronological order can be found here.)

       About 225 miles to the south of Myrtle Beach,  Melody Baker was purchasing a train ticket to Los Angeles over the Internet. Two days prior, the twenty-four year old had graduated from college in Savannah, and was leaving for an internship at a movie studio in L.A.

She thought back to her friends and the ceremony two nights before. She had photos in her phone of the four of them standing in a semi circle, arms linked, matching blue caps and gowns. They were all smiling ear-to-ear; they had finally done it! They went into university and came out the other side relatively unscathed. 

Melody had left the after party, hosted at one of the hotels on Tybee Island Beach. She had taken off her sandals and slogged through the sand, stopping just this side of the line where the tide met the beach. Taking a deep breath and staring out into the dark pink and orange sky, Melody had gone a few steps further, and then a few more, until she was standing calf-deep in salt water.

The salty spray of the vast Atlantic was gentle on her cheeks, and she let her mind drift back and forth through the last four years of her life. Melody pondered all that she had been through during her years at college, both the good and the bad.

She decided that the good things were as follows:
Billy Anderson: first real romance.
Ben & Jerry’s pints
Larissa, Tammy, Jake, and Mya: Melody’s room mate, calculus tutor, best friend, and Spanish partner respectively.

The bad:
Billy Anderson: first real break up.
Ben & Jerry’s Pints: have you seen the calories in one of those???
College apartment proximity to parents house.
Everything else in Savannah right now.

Melody sighed again, bringing herself back to the present. A week ago she had received a phone call from a very prestigious film studio in Los Angeles. Her mother, Jodi had been so excited for her. That is, until she reminded Melody that it was an internship, and not a good paying one either. In fact, it would be minimum wage for the first year. If Melody survived the first year, then the studio might hired her on permanently.  Jodi reminded her several times over the last week that it was a pretty big “if”. 

After a lot of soul-searching and thinking, and not a few arguments with her well-meaning friends who wanted her to stay local, Melody decided that it was the opportunity of a life time. Even if she wasn’t kept on after a year, she would have an amazing resume to show for her effort, and that had to be worth something, right?

Melody would miss Jake, that much was for sure. He had been her best friend since fourth grade after all. He had majored in art in college and was going to be interning at a graphics design company in Savannah. Larissa and Mya both graduated with degrees in paralegal studies and minors in businesses. They had been friends for most of their lives and were planning on moving in together once they both found jobs.

Melody was the only one leaving. She had envisioned the four of them bursting out the front doors of the university and skipping arm in arm towards their destinies outside of the town they had all grown up in. Sadly she realized it wasn’t meant to be.  She didn’t know why the urge to leave Georgia had been growing in her belly over the last year and a half. It had nothing to do with Billy, she knew that much.

Everything felt so small, and just felt smaller with each passing day until she felt she had to break out of the confines of her comfort zone or go crazy.
There just weren’t any real film jobs to be had, and Melody didn’t want to settle for working at the local news station.

She wondered briefly where her father was right now. It would have been nice, she thought, to talk to him about her choice. To get his opinion on it, and the benefit of his life experience. Jodi was no help; she had been born and raised in Savannah and had never even ventured outside the borders of her home state to see the rest of the world. As excited as she was for her one and only daughter, Jodi felt compelled to remind Melody that she wouldn’t be able to afford to pay for a lot of her living expenses once she moved. Jodi hoped that would convince Melody to stay.

“Don’t worry, Mom,” Melody said lightly, not showing any fear. “I can live pretty frugally. I ate ramen and ninety-nine cent tacos for the last four years. Besides, I will probably look for a roommate when I get there and that will cut some of my expenses, too.”

After printing the train ticket and tucking it safely into her purse, Melody walked to the bus stop and spent the ride to the local coffee shop where she was meeting Jake. As the bus swayed its way through downtown traffic, Melody was making a mental list of what she would need to do in the next two days to prepare for her move. 

The bus pulled to a stop outside of The Leaf & Bean and Melody slung her purse over her shoulder before disembarking. Jake was already inside saving a table for the both of them when she walked into the cool air-conditioned cafe. She waved at him and went to the counter to order her usual Turtle Mocha with a double shot of espresso before taking a sea. Jake was nursing a concoction called The Eye Opener: four shots of espresso in dark roast coffee, two sugars.
“How’s life as a college graduate?” Jake asked, brushing a strand of his platinum-dyed hair out of one blue eye. 

Melody shrugged. “It’s okay. Look, I asked you here because there’s something important I need to tell you. I should have asked Larissa and Tammy to be here too, but I wanted to tell you first.”

Jake leaned forward in his chair and took a long pull of his hot beverage. “What is it, Princess?” He had called Melody “Princess” since they were in seventh grade. There had been at a school dance, and Melody’s mother Jodi had decided that she needed a tiara to complete her vintage look. When Melody walked into the auditorium where the dance was being held, Jake had bowed and call her Royal Highness.

    Melody sighed and let it out in a rush, “I got an offer for an internship and I couldn’t decide if I should take it or not because it means leaving home and I didn’t know if I was ready for that, but then I thought ‘why not?’ I need to spread my wings a little bit and so I decided to accept.” She stopped, as she had run out of oxygen and needed to take a big breath.

    Jake sat back in his chair, eyes wide and stunned. “You’re leaving us?” His eyes changed from stunned to confused to sad in the space of a few seconds.
    Melody just nodded. “Yeah. It’s a really great internship with a film studio in Los Angeles. It would really, really, help my career and my resume to accept.”
    “But aren’t there film jobs you can do here in Savannah?” Jake asked, a little more petulantly than he had intended.

    “Well, yeah,” Melody began, “But all we have here are television stations and that’s not really what I wanted for my life.”

    “So what? Now little ol’ Savannah, Georgia just isn’t good enough for her Royal Highness Melody Baker?” Jake’s eyes were angry and hurt.

    Melody knew his feelings were hurt and that he really didn’t mean what he’d just said. She could take a deep breath and let it out slowly and not rise to the bait. “Jake,” she said softly instead. “If I take this internship, then they might hire me on permanently after a year. I have the potential to be making movies in Hollywood for Heaven sake.”

    “And if they don’t hire you on permanently after paying you a pittance for a year?” Jake’s arms were crossed over his chest now.

    Melody shrugged. “Then I don’t know. I come back to Savannah and get a job that’s more local. I had hoped you would be happy for me, Jake. This is a huge opportunity.”

    “Whatever. All I know is that my best friend in the whole world is leaving me for some bullshit internship in California. All the way across the country.”

    Melody took another deep breath and looked Jake directly in the eyes. “If you had said you were going to New York to be an artist I would be happy for you, Jake. I would be sad, yes, but ultimately I would be happy for you. I would want you to follow your dreams, even if that meant you had to leave the only place you’ve lived your entire life.” Melody stood up before the tears pooling in her eyes had a chance to fall.

    After scooping up her purse and drink, she walked out of The Leaf & Bean and stalked down the avenue, texting Larissa to pick her up at the college library when she was free as there was something she had to tell her and Tammy. 

    “Might as well get it all over with,” she said aloud to nobody. She wasn’t looking forward to it, especially if they reacted anything like Jake had. She could only hope that Jake would come around in the next couple of days before she had to leave. Melody didn’t want to leave Savannah without saying goodbye to her best friend.

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