Prologue - Yesterday

Start from the beginning

"Well look who it is. Beatlemania still alive and well?" Marisol's older sister Margo drops down beside her and gives baby Melody's sock clad foot a little tug.

"Looks that way." Marisol lets out a sigh without taking her eyes from the screen. "The girls in bed?"

"They're obliterated  from the first week of Kindergarten." Margo regards the television for a moment, then shakes her head. "What a fucking great band they are though."

"I know. The chemistry is amazing. Four best mates who have been playing together for eight years. They make it look effortless."

The song ends and the camera zooms to Paul's face, and he seems to lose focus while introducing the next song. His attention is still fixed on someone in the audience, to his left and high in the crowd. It takes John yelling "Heyyyyy!" at the crowd to startle Paul into finishing the introduction, and Ringo's drums launch them into a loud, bluesy rock song in the style of Little Richard.

Margo snickers and points at the screen. "Check that girl losing her mind. She could be your twin. I was wondering who Paul was focusing on. He's been distracted by someone the whole song."

The camera has panned to an upper balcony where a slim blonde grips the railing, violently shaking a cloud of messy hair, having the time of her life, hamming it up for the television camera and screaming 'JOHN! JOHN!' 

"Ha! I can't see anything but hair and a really big mouth. Of course he's staring at her, she's acting crazier than anyone else."

"She looks just like you, Mar. I know John's blind as a bat without his glasses, but she sure has Paul's attention."

The song ends to enormous applause and screams and the theater darkens. The lead guitarist, George, steps to the microphone. "And now we'd like to carry on by doing something we've never done before, with a song from our new LP in England featuring only Paul, and the song is called Yesterday." As the lights come up, Paul is alone onstage with an acoustic guitar. His lips stretch in a brief grimace and he rolls his shoulders slightly before beginning to strum the guitar. There's a light sheen of sweat on his upper lip.

He's nervous without the band behind him, Marisol realizes as he begins to sing. By himself under the spotlight, he looks as alone and vulnerable to her as a baby seal on an ice floe.

Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away, now it looks as though they're here to stay, Oh I believe in yesterday...

The melody climbs and tumbles like a feather on a breeze, reflective and melancholy, and suddenly so familiar to her...

"Baby, listen to this song, I think I dreamed it..."

Hair tousled with sleep, he'd climbed out of bed and reached for a guitar and found the right notes and accompanying chords even before he was fully conscious. The melody was so beautiful he was sure he had nicked it from some other song he couldn't recall in his conscious mind. But as he played it for Marisol and other friends and professional acquaintances, singing la-la-la on the melody in place of words, no one could recognize this song as anything other than his original creation. Yet the right words wouldn't come.

The memory brings to mind a package that arrived from England last month, a 45 rpm record with a note "I found the words. Please call me" followed by a telephone number and an address on Cavendish Avenue, St. John's Wood, London. Without playing the record, Marisol had merely added it to the suitcase full of Paul memorabilia she couldn't bear to look at.

She notices she's been holding her breath and exhales slowly, captivated by the haunting melody and plainspoken description of heartbreak as Paul continues to sing.

Suddenly, I'm not half the man I used to be,

There's a shadow hanging over me,

oh I believe in yesterday.

Why she had to go, I don't know, she wouldn't say

I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday.

Yesterday. That was it. The word described the melody perfectly. And the rest of the verse told of a man reflecting on his emotional isolation. Life and love had once seemed so easy, but something had happened he couldn't take back, and everything changed. It was a tale of a shattered love affair.

"He found the words," Marisol whispers.

She feels Melody squirm and pull away from the bottle and realizes she's been gripping her daughter too tightly. She loosens her hold and looks down. Melody's big brown eyes are blinking up at the television set. Other than her bright eyes tracking the movements on the screen, her tiny body is completely still, seemingly mesmerized by the singer and the haunting melody.

Marisol kisses the top of her daughter's soft dark hair. "I know sweetie."

Margo regards her younger sister with a frown. "Have you told him?"

Marisol chews the inside of her cheek while she considers a response. "I'm working on it." (If working on it means picking up the phone once a month, waiting for a dial tone and slamming it down again with her heart pounding.)

Of course she'll have to tell him. Melody's father deserves to know he has a perfect daughter, and even though Melody has a huge family of people who adore her, no one can take the place of a father in her life. She has to tell him, for her daughter's sake, and he can decide what sort of relationship he wants with her. With them.

The song ends and Paul steps back from the microphone with a tight smile and a small bow. His performance, with acoustic guitar and pre-recorded strings, was pitch-perfect: sweet, stoic, heartbroken.

"He nailed it," Marisol whispers with a relieved sigh. Tears have sprung to her lower lids and she swipes at them with the back of her hand. "Despite the roller coaster ride the last two years has been, Gogo, I am so proud of him."

Her sister leans close and rests her head on Marisol's shoulder. "He's just a guy in a band. I'm proud of YOU. Has it really been two years? Feels like only yesterday."

Marisol glances down at her perfect daughter and gives her a squeeze. "We don't believe in yesterday, do we Melody? We believe in tomorrow."

But as she watches Paul switch to his bass guitar and announce the next song, her mind goes back to the first time she saw him. No matter how often she looks back on that magical afternoon it is always with the same question: what if she'd been ten minutes later arriving at Mrs. A's house? Ten minutes would have made all the difference. There are those critical junctures in life, when a seemingly trivial decision radically alters the course of our lives. It takes only a second really, and everything changes.


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