‘Can’t you hear it too?’ she says.
Her face is so pained, lines of worry scoring her forehead, deepening her wrinkles, that I’m tempted to lie for her sake.
Tempted to take her hand – shrivelled, soft skin and long yellowed nails, a mole’s paw of a hand – and smile and laugh and say Fooled you. Of course I can hear it.
But even though I open my mouth the words won’t come. Terror seals my throat shut, as if it’s plugged with cooling candle wax.
Because there is only ever one outcome for those who hear the Melody.
One day when you’re at work or walking the dog or eating fish and chips in front of the fire, a black van filled with polite men in dark suits will pull up outside your house. And they will knock at your door – a light knock, meek as a spinster. And they will invite you to go with them. And they will always be polite even as you protest you can’t hear, even as you scream, even as you’re dragged away, feet kicking, heels catching on the kerb.
Even as the van door slams your protests shut.
I take her hand and say, ‘No, Grandma. I can’t hear anything.’
And in my heart I say goodbye.