Reflection in the Music: An Excerpt

She listened intently. Her favorite song was on repeat. Every note. Every nuance. Every lyric. She wanted to consume it all. It wasn’t just the song. Do you want to ride inside my love? Her voice was so melodic. So innocent. The lyrics were drenched in innuendo. The song was so dirty, yet Mrs. Riperton sang it so beautifully, almost like a lullaby. How could she make a song such as this sound as though angels had come down from heaven to lend her their voices to produce an auditory experience such as this?

Melissa was mesmerized by Minnie Riperton’s delivery of every song she had ever sang in her brief life. Her music often led Melissa into reflection. How could she, like Minnie did in her music, take something considered by many to be naughty, and make it appear angelic? This mess she had made with just a little lie. A teeny, tiny lie that did not benefit her at all. She wasn’t saving her own electricity from being disconnected when she handed her coworker the money from the cash register, purposefully giving her too much change for the soda her coworker had purchased. The coworker just needed a little extra cash because the shutoff notice had been waiting on her immediate response. It wouldn’t be a big deal. All the other cashiers did it, too. Stash a little money away on the side of the register. Tell the customer the total for their purchase and slide an extra dollar or few out of the till when they counted out change. That wasn’t the life Melissa lived. She worked hard for a living. This cashiering job was temporary. She was actively searching for something better paying and closer to home. She wasn’t a thief, which is why she pretended not to know where the money came from that another coworker gave her as a gift. Then the day came when the boss asked, “Have you noticed anything suspicious going on?” Melissa denied seeing or hearing anything, but was immediately overwhelmed with guilt. She wasn’t liar. She wasn’t a thief. She wasn’t herself in this place where she thought she would earn an honest day’s pay.

Eventually, she changed the song. The method to my madness, you inspire. How did Mrs. Riperton make pleading sound so good? Melissa could plead in hopes that it would counter the lying and thieving. All I know is truuueee… That innocence. That purity that Minnie brought to every song she sang. She never sounded dirty. She never sounded devious. Even in the interviews that Melissa had watched of Minnie, she exuded a clean heart. Melissa had a heart like that once. Everyday that she clocked in at work and surrounded herself with the unpleasant element more blemishes appeared on her spirit. All in the name of a paycheck.

She left Minnie Riperton on repeat, occasionally changing the song. Her music was the only place where Melissa could see a reflection of her former self.


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