Out of Tune: Chapter Four


I’ve been posting a few preview chapters of my work in progress novel, Out of Tune. Chapter Four follows. If you’ve missed out on any of the previous chapters, you should start with one of these links:

Chapter Zero

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three


Out of Tune: Chapter Four

Present Day


Melanie heard the alarm again and barely opened an eye to glance at the clock. 5:30? How did that happen? she screamed inside her thoughts and sat up quickly. How did I not hear the other two alarms?

With no time for a shower, Melanie rushed to the bathroom to brush her teeth and hair.  Moe will fire me if I’m late one more time! Ponytail day for sure, she thought, pulling her hair back. Melanie grabbed a hair tie off the counter, wrapping it around the base of the ponytail.

She returned to her room, pulled her nightgown over her head and dropped it on the floor.  She quickly changed into her uniform – jeans and a red cotton t-shirt with Moe’s Diner printed on the front and The Original Moe’s written on the back. She finished out the ensemble with her name tag, grabbing it from the dresser and pinning it to her shirt. In the dresser mirror she could see it was a bit crooked, but she didn’t care.  It was time to go.

She opened the bedroom door and gently closed it behind her.  The hallway was still dark but as she made her way to the kitchen, she could see the light there was on.  Odd, Melanie thought. I could have sworn I turned it off last night. She rounded the corner and stepped onto the aging laminate floor, once white, but now closer to light gray. No amount of mopping was able to make it shine these days.

“Oh,” Melanie said.  “Hey. I didn’t expect to see you.”

A figure with short, gray, unbrushed hair sat in her robe at the kitchen table with her back to the entrance. “Couldn’t sleep,” the woman said as Melanie made her way past the table and to the door to the carport.  “I made some coffee if you want it.”

Melanie put her hand on the doorknob and turned it, then released it and slowly turned around.  Looking at the woman, Melanie could see the bags under her eyes.  The deep lines on the women’s face made her look closer to 75 years-old than the 55 she really was.

“If you wouldn’t sleep in front of the TV all afternoon, you might be able to sleep at night,” Melanie said.  The women ignored this comment and stared down into her coffee cup.

“Your brother called last night,” the woman said and lifted the cup to her lips with both hands.

“Mom, I don’t have time for this right now, I’m late for work.”

“Said he’s been trying to get in touch with you.”

“Yeah, well, I’ve been a bit busy. One of us has to work, remember?”

“You should call him,” the woman said, ignoring Melanie’s comment.

“Why? So I can be reminded that he’s not here and I am? That he made it out, and I’m stuck with”— Melanie interrupted herself. “Maybe you should go visit him. Give him a reminder of what he’s missing out on.”

“Maybe I will.”

“Yeah, right. Heard that before. I’ve got to go,” Melanie said, turning around and grabbing the doorknob again.

“After work, would you mind going by the drugstore to get my prescription?”

“Really, Mom? You can’t work it into your busy schedule? I’m busting my butt with three jobs and you just sit around here and self-medicate all day. Maybe if you’d lay off for a few hours you’d be able to drive yourself.”

“You know the doctor doesn’t like me driving on my meds.”

“I don’t think it’s the meds, Mom.  You know that warning label on them that says ‘don’t take with alcohol’?  Maybe you obey that rule once in a while. Goodbye,” Melanie said and left the house, firmly closing the door behind her.

“Call your brother!” She heard behind her, through the closed door.

To Be Continued…

Copyright 2021 Greg Fowler

Thanks for reading,


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