I am very excited about this post.
Its Music Week, AND Fragment Friday, AND its my turn to share some fiction!
I decided to write something new, just for this post. I’ve been in a bit of a writing funk lately, and this was just the ticket to bring me out of it.This piece is from my (very distant future) book, The Lyrics. This scene, combined with Ed Sheeran’s Give Me Love is a good example of when I hear a song, and it moves me, speaks to the Muse, and fits my characters so perfectly I decide to actually write the song into the story.
One more thing before you dive in. This piece is a little long (Read; it needs editing.) It’s rough, it rambles a little, and it’s probably not the best representation of my writing style. (Read: I finished it last night at 11:39pm.) But it’s fresh, its pure and raw, and that’s what we’re shooting for here on WTF.
If you have comments, questions, complaints, I’d love to hear it all. Help me make it better. We’re all about the feedback!
Hope you enjoy. ~Cindy
The Lyrics Chapter 22 – Contradictions
The droning voices and incessant, cacophonic noise of the Karaoke machine finally ceased, and now a 50’s style song pulsed over the bar with a purposeful beat.
Stacey wasn’t on the stage anymore, and she hadn’t gone back to the crowded table of women—Sam could only assume they were dancers, covered in makeup and casting sparks of light around the room with their sequin-covered breasts. When he’d first caught sight of her, bare-faced and wearing a soft-pink hooded sweatshirt and jeans, he was grateful. Rising fame and palpable heartbreak hadn’t changed her yet. That’s it, keep fighting it, baby.
He wandered through the club, trying not to breathe in the scent of alcohol, trying to shut out the sound of ice clinking in thick glasses. He maneuvered around a crowd of women chatting on the dance floor, averted his eyes away from the bartender and made his way toward the back door, propped open. He somehow knew he’d find her there. He drew in a breath.
He could only see the silhouette of her, and she wasn’t facing him. But there was no doubt it was Stacey. She was leaning against the railing and dangling a half-empty beer bottle over the edge. He hesitated in the doorway, watching the way the flat lamplight bounced off her hair, casting an amber glow onto her nose and cheeks. It was possible, with every subsequent heartbreak she grew a little sadder, a little less sure of herself, and a little more beautiful. She leaned her head back and took a gulp from the bottle. He half smiled, watching her try not to cringe as she swallowed it.
“Hey,” he said, still inside the open door. She whipped her head around but didn’t move in any other way, so that a length of her brown hair swept under her chin, like a fine silk scarf. He could see her throat muscles move as she swallowed so she could speak.
“Sam?” Her eyes widened. “What are you doing here? I haven’t seen you since…I thought you were still in London.”
“I thought you didn’t drink beer,” he said, ignoring her question.
“I don’t.” She swirled the bottle around, looking through the hole at the liquid inside instead of him. “How long have you been here?”
“Long enough,” he said, When he saw her swallow hard and close her eyes, he wished he’d found another way to say it. She laughed sardonically and shook her head.
“That figures. It’s like I’m always finding new ways to humiliate myself.” He started to shake his head but she went on before he could think of what to say. “Cry about my dipshit ex in front of a famous director, a room full of theater critics. Come to find out it was in front of my best friend too. Typical.” Her words stung at him, and he wasn’t sure if it was because he didn’t like being referred to as her best friend, or because he didn’t feel like he’d been any sort of friend, to her or anyone. Not for the past six months anyway.
“Hey,” he said, placing his hand on her arm. “You didn’t do anything except not sing Karaoke. I’m not saying you’re bad, but that’s no crime.” He grinned, but she didn’t smile back. “Ok…so you watched Jake make an ass of himself on national television. So what? Anyway, you have to know it isn’t true. All that chatter about his broken heart and making babies. It’s bloody nonsense.”
“You mean he made it up? Why?”
“Come on Stace. You’ve gotta know by now— he isn’t above feeding fiction to the press for publicity. It’s part of the game. We do it all the time.”
“You don’t,” she said arguably, swirling the beer bottle around so it made a swishing noise. “I don’t.
“Well that’s because you and I—” he paused, wanting those words to slide easily across his tongue and out of his mouth and into the air again. “You and I…” he hesitated.. She turned and looked at him expectantly. “Well. We have a mutual understanding that any publicity is bad publicity.” Her face warmed, she smiled slightly. She was standing next to him now, her arm touching his.
“Tell me why it matters to me Sam,” she said, still swinging the beer bottle and gazing upward. “I wasted five years of my life waiting for Jake. He obviously wants fame more than he wants me. So what do I care if he’s out there, leading someone else on?”
Damn. He’d hoped that things would be different now, that she wouldn’t want to talk about Jake, that she’d no longer regard him as the middle-man. It was that one hope that gave him the courage to walk through the door of that bar. He wanted to pull her into his arms. Even more than he wanted to go to the bar and order a Scotch, even more than he wanted to find that bastard he used to regard as his only confidante and send him through a wall. More than all of it, he wanted to hold her. But he didn’t. He couldn’t.
“Because,” he said instead, forcing out words. “You gave it your all, and it’s tough to stop that momentum.” He swallowed hard. “Because your heart’s still in it.” He wasn’t saying it: The truth that hovered between them like the smoke in the air. Because you’re still in love with him.
She sighed and tipped her head so it touched his shoulder. He didn’t move. She sniffed a few times. She’s crying, he thought. Suddenly her arm was moving around his waist. He started to hug her, but she reached into his jacket pocket and thrust a carton of cigarettes into the space between them.
“I thought you quit,” she said, her brown eyes flickering.
“I did,” he said, squinting and scratching behind his ear. She opened the carton. One missing. She eyed him for a few minutes, quiet scrutiny on her brow. He waited for her to ask if he’d been drinking. At least then he could say no, and it would be true, and he could be honest about something. But she didn’t ask. She pushed the cigarettes back into his pocket and gave him a weak smile.
“You and I…” she said, shaking her head and reaching for her beer. “At least we’re mutually ridiculous.” She took another long swallow and balanced the bottle on the railing, then opened her arms to embrace him. He lifted his to let her in, and she tucked her head under his chin. He closed his eyes.
“I don’t know why you’re here Sam.” Her voice was muffled by his jacket. “I probably don’t want to know why you’re at a bar, in L.A., at midnight. And this is probably really selfish… but I’m glad. I needed a friendly face.”
He hated the way she’d said it. A friendly face. Those words made it clear that things were not different. Time and distance had not changed anything. Up until now he’d been telling himself he’d changed inside and out since the last time he saw her. And maybe he had. But he was still the man she needed without being the man she wanted.
The smoke and the noise from inside the bar drifted out the back door and into the atmosphere, disappearing into the long, waving fingers of palm fronds. Bouts of laughter from the tables inside rose above the murmurs of flattery and pick-up lines, the publicized beginnings of one-night-stands. The music overhead changed from 50’s-pop into something contemporary; novel, with a softer beat. There was a bit of sorrow in the singer’s voice that rung familiar in Sam’s ears. The voice sounded subtly British, not unlike his own, and the lyrics floated out into the night air.
Give me love like her
Cause lately I’ve been waking up alone
Paint splatted teardrops on my shirt.
I told you I’d let them go…
And that I’ll fight my corner.
Maybe tonight I’ll call you
After my blood turns into alcohol.
A couple came onto the patio holding hands. They kissed. Sam watched them for a long time. They started to dance. Don’t, a voice in his head urged. It’s too much. It’s too soon.
“You wanta dance?” he said, ignoring it.
“I thought you didn’t dance.” She pulled out of his arms and gave him a weak smile.
“I don’t,” he said. She grinned. The realness, the sweetness of it on her lips made him want to tell her. Everything. That he’d been waiting for her to stop reaching for the unreachable. That all the imperfections Jake saw in her were what made her…so bloody perfect. But he couldn’t find a way to make those words into anything outside his own head. Instead, he managed:
“But it seems to be a night of contradictions.”
She laughed, the breathy, soprano notes of her laughter ringing in his ears, and he tried hard to memorize it. He’d forgotten that laugh, how it made him feel: Unafraid.
“You’re right,” she held out her hand. “I’d love to.”
Hello, you beautiful reader you. If you made it this far, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. If you’re interested, I’ve created a soundtrack for this story on Spotify. Find me there and I’ll share it with you. 🙂