The Daily Prompt:Melody:The polite men

Van on the horizon

Image: Pixabay


‘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.


Written for The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt MELODY. See here to join in and to read the other posts.

21 thoughts on “The Daily Prompt:Melody:The polite men

      1. You’re right, I think it can be interpreted several ways – perhaps as an alien message, a government backed virus that infects your brain, or as a pandemic of mental disturbance that the authorities are keen to keep under control. I first thought of people who suffer musical hallucinations, who hear music that isn’t there. I listened to some interviews on the radio once – some found it very upsetting / irritating and I made them very anxious. One lady, though heard a man’s voice – a deep bass singer – and she loved listening to him. Perhaps that’s what Nana has.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That is very interesting!
        I read it in terms of the stigma attached to mental health… So many suffer but few speak out because of the fear of being shunned/locked away/judged. I felt that the grandchild heard the melody too, but couldn’t say it aloud in case the polite men came to take her away too. The way fear silences us… Well, that’s my way of reading it. Shows we all find something different in a piece of writing doesn’t it, which is worth writing about itself!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. There’s definitely that point, that the grandchild was aware of the wider implications of hearing the melody when Nana wasn’t, that the youngster would lie, even if she did hear. And ah, that stigma never leaves, does it, even with all out medical advances.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Thanks Joy. Yes, not sure myself what the melody is or why we all have to be whisked off when we hear it. Something threatening and mysterious going on. Thanks for reading 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Definitely came off as both threatening and mysterious — and you don’t need to know exactly what’s going on. I often don’t with mine, and get ideas from everyone else’s guesses, haha!

        Liked by 1 person

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