S M Chen
5 min readMar 13
Free use

Certain events embed themselves in memory and, like images on glass, are irrevocably etched.

Someone I knew well for a number of years told me this story.

It did not emerge all at once, like a waterfall cascading over a dam. Rather, perhaps like the life cycle of the grasshopper itself, it came about in fragments, in bits and pieces, as the life cycle of the grasshopper itself goes from egg to nymph to, finally, after a series of molts, an adult.

After she told me, I understood why.

Like a few other things in life, it was too painful to relate all at once.

As well as being an unusually lovely young woman, she was talented. So much so she garnered a recording contract with Capitol Records.

Some people would give their eye teeth to get such a contract. Instead, they wait tables or drive taxis.

So it was that one day she visited her attorney at his home in the hills to put the finishing touches on a contract that had been drawn up. It was a sunny weekend, the weather splendid, no portent at all of what was to come.

She’d had a troubled childhood, starting with her father being torpedoed and perishing in the war.

After an appropriate time of mourning, her mother remarried.

Things were never quite the same after that.

A stepsister came along, and the two fought, as siblings often do.

As stepsisters, they did, perhaps more than had they been birth sisters.

Vied for attention.

Adolescence is often a difficult time.

They were not immune.

But it was no good.

The air, fraught with conflict, was toxic.

So she moved out.

The house wasn’t big enough for the two of them.

As good a head as she had on her shoulders, she didn’t always make the best decisions.

That was to be a pattern in her life.

She ended up becoming a single mom, fending for herself and her young son.

That fine summer day as she was sitting in front of a large wooden desk upon which the recording…