Six years old and already I was labeled an outcast. I rode the bus home with a heavy heart and went right to my room, where I put Neil onto my little pink and white close’n’play and cried.
It wasn’t the first time I had wept over music, and as the salty tears slid quietly down my face, my mind drifted back to a few months prior, when my sister had come home from school bawling her eyes out. She didn’t even yell at me when I asked her what was wrong. She clutched a box of Kleenex to her chest and ran straight to her room, with me trotting along behind asking, "What's the matter Suzie? Why are you crying?"
I hesitated before following her into the Inner Sanctum, but she seemed unaware that I had crept in behind her. Flinging herself on the bed, she punched her fists into the pillows, wailing all the while. Unsure of what to do but unable to contain my curiousity, I finally poked a finger into her shin and then retreated to a safe distance, sure that she’d leap off the bed and toss me out into the hall.
But she didn’t.
She sat up, blew her nose loudly and announced to me that The Beatles had broken up.
A million images raced thorough my mind as I stared at her with gaping mouth. How could they break? Did they fall out of a window and smash? Did they get into a fight and somehow shatter? Every image my mind could muster spelled disaster and death for the four mop-topped boys who had given me such delight with their songs.
Thoughts awhirl, I eventually concluded that she must have meant that one of her Beatles records got broken, and I chewed my lower lip and eyed her suspiciously. My mind flashed to a copy of "I Saw Her Standing There" with a crack in it. I knew she had stepped on it one morning as she readied herself for school. It had lain beneath the scattered clothing that dotted her floor like a rummage sale gone awry. I had heard the crack clear in the next room, where I sat busily building a make-shift home for my Fisher-Price people out of a shoebox. Sue dashed out the bedroom door and down the stairs without even checking to see what record had cracked. I raced to the window and watched as she ran down the hill toward the schoolbus, then ventured into her room to find out what had broken.
“I didn’t do it!” I blurted out finally, and she rolled her redrimmed, watery green eyes and threw a pillow at me, halfheartedly.
“They split up, dummy. Paul left the band and now there will never be any more Beatles music.”
She stated it so matter-of-factly, and it slowly dawned on me that this was serious business. I wanted to ask why the band couldn’t go on without Paul but even at such a tender age I knew that Paul and John were the head guys in the band. It was their close harmonies I loved so dearly.
"Never?" I asked in a hushed tone.
Sue's lip began to quiver again. "Never." She patted the edge of the bed, inviting me to sit with her and look at their album jackets. I scampered onto the rumpled bed and we sat together, examining everything from Please Please Me, Help!, and Rubber Soul, to Sgt.Pepper, and Abbey Road. She told me all about the conspiracy surrounding the Abbey Road cover and how Paul was supposed to be dead, although she didn't believe it. I pointed out that George looked dreamy with both short and long hair.
We spent the remainer of the day listening to those albums, and as the shadows fell long across the bedroom floor, we put on those early singles and danced, my hands clasped in hers as she swung me around and sang, "Help me if you can I'm feeling down...Help me get my feet back on the ground!"
It was the only time I was ever, and ever would be, granted access to my sister’s room, music, and inner thoughts, and it meant the world to me.