Simple Sounds

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Cilla is a 27 year old rock star. Idolized by women and desired by men, she has it all. Her entire life has lead her to become what she always knew she could be, exceptional. But the road to the top was not an easy one. She has broken promises, hearts, and more than a few bottles. She is about to finish another highly successful tour when her past comes knocking at the door.

Submitted: June 14, 2013

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Submitted: June 14, 2013

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Cilla, you’re A Star

What is it about music that I love so much? I stare at my phone and skim through the endless library I have acquired throughout the years and every one of the songs means so much to me. Every note takes me somewhere in the past or propels me to some happier future I know I probably don’t deserve. Girls like me don’t deserve happy endings, just ends. Although I would never admit this out-loud, I know it to be true. I know I am cruel and unkind, but that is only because people cannot make me feel the way a simple chord on a guitar can. If only people could be as true and vulnerable as “Transatlanticism”, maybe then I would find time to love one of them or at the very least return their calls.

I can feel the walls of this dim lit dressing room shake from the roar of the crowd outside. They are all chanting my name, I feel humbled by this but it is also so intimidating and sickening. They want me to transcend them to some higher being, make them feel alive. I use to be one of them, before I discovered the sad truth. Behind the lyrics there is only emptiness. After you ‘make it’ you stop trying to make music and start worrying about what sells. Right now it was me, and according to my label and my manager, Myles, that was not going to change anytime soon. But no matter how many times people tell you how great you are or even tell you how much money you have, you still feel a bit lonely and unsure.

I lean back into the chair and study my face and compare it to the one staring back at me in the posters plastered all over the dressing room. My hair was shorter when that press photo was taken and it was lighter than its current hazelnut color I’ve dyed it this week. I am always changing myself, mostly to get away from the paparazzi but sometimes just to get away from myself. Sometimes the different colored hair works and sometimes it doesn’t. This dressing room was definitely not 4 stars.

The room reeked of sour vomit and booze. The only two pieces of furniture was one old destroyed black leather couch and a small desk with a mirror attached to it covered in stickers. Some band stickers, some just random things. There was a space in the middle that had not been invaded by them that I was currently using to fix my hair. Along with my bands posters there where tons of other flyers everywhere. Some promoting other bands, some supporting gay marriage, some saying yes to abortion. I had not played a show at a place like this in years.

I decided to end my tour in Orlando FL. That way I could jump right into a long awaited vacation, but also so I could end in this small, shitty little club and show my earlier fans that playing sold out arenas didn’t mean I had turned into some rock diva spoiled bitch (even though I was pretty sure it had).

Just being in a dressing room use to excite me, now all I was thinking about was how fucking filthy this place was. I made it a point to only show up 30 minutes before show time so I could spend as much time in my hotel room as possible. In my suite I had all the luxuries someone of my caliber should have. Sex and drugs. Anyone who says being a rock star is just like any other job is just so full of shit. I do what I want, when I want, and if I can’t do it the exact way I want expect me to be a total piece of shit to you and insult all of your ancestors living and dead.

“Cilla, you guys have to be ready to go on in 15 minutes,” I turn around and see that some dumpy middle aged stage man is standing in my doorway. Sweat pouring off of his face and down his double chin. I stand up from my seat and walk over to him.

“I’m sorry, do I know you?” I say as I stop my stride right in front of him with my hand on the door. I see this has unnerved him and watch as he tries to keep eye contact and not look down my low cut shirt.

“I’m Steve, they told me... um to let you know... the stage was ready. You have fifteen-” I raise my hand gesturing for Steve, the bumbling moron, to stop while he is ahead.

“Steve, the answer is ‘No you don’t know me’ so there is really no reason for you to be calling me ‘Cilla’ is there?”

“No, no I am so sorry Ms. Carson! I didn’t mean to- is there anything-” I raise my hand again; this guy is really getting annoying.

“The only thing I would like you to do is to stay the fuck away from my door, and let whoever thought it would be a good idea for you to come interrupt me knows that I have a watch and I have never EVER been late to a gig.” With that I shut the door with a little more force than would have been necessary and return to the mirror. I make some final touches to my eye liner and let out a deep breath.

“Just one more set and then YOU will be able to spend all that money and lounge in a tropical resort,” I say to myself in the mirror. There is a knock at the door and I feel irritation rise in my stomach. I turn around and stomp to the door expecting to see Steve the sloth. I swing the door open but it is not the overweight, over bearing, under achiever Steve. It’s Cal.

“Cilla! Ready to get our last show over with,” he asks with a smile. I smile back, I can’t help it. If anyone can get me out of this horrible mood it’s Cal. Standing in my doorway he emits the total essence of indie rock. Tall, lean, hazel eyes and black hair that is so meticulously disheveled. I feel my heart beat a little faster. He is wearing this white v neck t shirt that is tight in all the right places leaving little to be imagined of what lies underneath and dark blue skinny jeans. I remind myself to thank Myles for hiring Cal as my replacement bassist later.

“Um... yeah. The sooner this is over the sooner our vacation starts,” I move out of the way and gesture for him to come inside. He seems a little surprised by this unexpected invitation into my little part of the shit hole, I am too.

He has his hands in his pockets and is surveying the room I watch his eyes go over everything and I follow him, “Not exactly Madison Square Garden.”

“Have you ever played there?”

He laughs at this, “Ummm no.”

I walk over to the couch and sit, trying to push out the thoughts of what activities could have taken place on this piece of furniture, “Well, then how do you know?” I tease.

“Yeah I guess I wouldn’t.”

“YET! But you are right in your prediction; this place is definitely no Madison Square.”

“I can’t see you playing in something like this. Every wall is black and there is not one space on the floor that my converse has not stuck to,” he picks up his right foot and I hear a tearing sound.

“That’s rock and roll, big league chew and body fluids on the bottom of a pair of converse.”

“Ha ha,” he comes and sits down next to me on the couch. I’m a little surprised at this bold move, usually people are so intimidated by me, “But seriously why Orlando? Why The Conection for our- your last show?”

“It’s ok Cal. It is OUR last show. I talked to Myles and I want you to be a permanent fixture in Metric Minute from here on out.” His eyes are wide with disbelief.

“What?!”

“Are you deaf?”

“No,” he jumps off the couch “IM FUCKING FLOORED? ARE YOU SERIOUS CILLA?!”

I light up a cigarette and take a drag, “yes Cal I want you to stay on,” I give him a puzzled look, “unless you have other plans?”

“Are you kidding? This is THE plan. I have been a fan of metric minute since 2009, I have all of your EP’s and when Thom and Wayne dropped out I was crushed, I thought Metric Minute was done but then you came out with Simple Sounds and that album was the best you had written... and now I am in the band.” He put his hands on his head and sat down again.

Thom.... his name echoed in my head. I came back down to Earth, “yeah I know it’s a lot to take in.” I needed to get out of this room and away from that name, both of those names. Like an answered prayer Myles appeared in the doorway. Looking all business as usual.

“Let’s go kids,” he eyed me and Cal in such close proximity on the couch, “its show time.”

 

 

Back To Reality

When the show is over I feel like a bird finally released from its cage. No more bus trips, no more interviews, and more importantly I can write a new album and stop singing some of the same shit over and over again. We all celebrate, the “replacements” are all stunned and happy to hear that the label and I have decided to make them permanent stand in’s. I am happy they are happy and we are all invited to one of my favorite clubs in Orlando where Myles has arranged for a private section to be reserved just for the band and all of our massive entourage to celebrate the end of another successful North America tour.

But before I go anywhere I needed to head back to my hotel. When I go to my room to change an envelope has been pushed under my door.

Attention Ms. Carson:

11:22 PM
There is a guest waiting for you in the bar by the name of Mr. Ernest Hemingway.

Kind Regards,

San Marco Resort Staff

I stare at the envelope and feel a sickening in my stomach. That particular American Novelist has been dead for years but not so long ago I would receive notes form him regularly. Not a zombie Hemingway but another individual who might as well be dead to me using this as a pen name, Thom. Was he in Orlando? Last I heard he was shacked up with his family in New York. The bastard WOULD fly here just to rain on my parade. I toss the letter on the bed and start rummaging through one of my bags filled with all the shit I have acquired in the last 6 months form different malls and shops along the east coast.

I rummage through a bag and find my favorite pair of black skinny jeans and a white v neck. I had been dressing up for photo shoots and promo TV. spots for 6 months. I didn’t give a shit if it was a party; I was going to be damned comfortable. After I showered, dressed, and dried my hair the note was still on the bed where I left it, making me picture Thom downstairs waiting too, for me. My mind went back to us years ago giving birth to Metric Minute. Wayne was always crazy, Thom was the good guy, and i was the moody intellectual. I remember I use to stay up all night with Wayne talking about life and his crazy girlfriends and everything we wanted to do. I remembered the first time Thom and I made love.

I checked the alarm clock on the night stand, 12:00 AM. The party would be going on all night. I grabbed my sunglasses and decided that before I met the driver outside I would stop in the bar for a drink.

The bar was massive and dark and it was also deserted, aside from the bartender we are the only ones here, the room is cold and very modern. The kind of modern that is almost clinical, like an abandoned space ship. All of the furniture is white and wavy. Not really my scene, the place screamed money. They glasses where even crystal. Sometimes I wondered why I stayed in places like this. I would be happy in a Super 8, but I guess since I finally had money I felt the need to spend it. Thom has always been well off because of his family but I doubt he could afford to drink in this place. I thought for sure when he and Wayne decided to leave he would become a model. He has the type of face you don’t forget, in a good way though. Not a hunchback of Notre Dame way.

Sometimes I think I see him in the crowd watching me when I perform. After him and Wayne left the band they did that a few times but I never gave them the satisfaction of knowing that I noticed. It had been two years but there he sat at the end of the bar sipping on, what I am assuming, was a twelve dollar bottled beer.

I hated that he looked so good. I have always been drawn to Thom, not because I have a thing for blondes or chiseled features (which he has in spades) but because of his eyes. Thom has the most amazing eyes. They are unlike any color I have ever seen. Blue and grey and green and hazel all at once. They burn into your soul and leave you feeling changed, sometimes for the better but mostly in my experience, for the worse.

I stand a couple of feet behind him, when he doesn’t turn around I clear my throat and say “Why are you here?”

He turns around on the bar stool and I immediately wish I had been nicer. He looks tired. Beaten down, he smiles at me but it is a sad smile. If I was a nice person I might have asked him what was wrong. He was wearing black pants and a grey button down shirt, making me feel very casual.

“Cilla, I didn’t think you would come.” Something in the way he says my name makes my palms sweat. What was I doing here? I had a party to be attending and was starting to feel a little aggravated that instead of being shit faced I was in an empty bar feeling incredibly vulnerable and insecure.

“Well, it’s not every day you get invited to have a drink with Ernest Hemingway. Write any good books lately?”

“I knew that would get you to come down.”

“So that’s what you’ve been up to? Traded your bass in for a crystal ball? Too bad you couldn’t have predicted what a fucking mistake that would turn out to be.” I sink inside. I have no filter and I am probably from hell.

“School actually, to be an architect.” I wave down the bartender and order a glass of whiskey. For an Irish girl I can drink, who knew?

“How is that working out?”

“It’s going, but I do feel a little old to be in college.”

“Youth is wasted on the young,” I light up a cigarette and I see this is making the bartender uncomfortable. He is polishing an endless line of glasses and he is about to tell me to put it out. I take of my sunglasses and his eyes widen. He takes the glass he has just polished to perfection and offers it to me as an ash tray, “thanks,” I tell him. Thom laughs, and for some reason I feel embarrassed.

“Priscilla Carson, still getting anything she wants.” I’m beginning to feel annoyed. I don’t want to be embarrassed by Thom; I don’t want to be attracted to him. I don’t want to see him.

“Not everything, but damn well near it. Who said you can’t buy happiness?”

“Probably Jesus,” Thom is making chit chat with me, does this not feel awkward for him? How is he able to talk to me after everything we have been through? Do I really not have any effect on him? I take a sip form my glass and ash my cigarette.

“The show was good tonight, you were really good,” he lifted his beer in the air tilted towards me.

“I’m going to have to call my agent; I think I have got a stalker.” He smiled at that and I did too. The thought of Thom in the crowd listening to me, wanting to hear me almost made me blush, if only I were capable of blushing.

“That bassist is pretty good, Calvin is his name right?”

“Cal actually,” I took a drink “yeah he is pretty good.” Thom seemed upset by this. Oh well.

“Are you all staying here... together?”

“Is this your way of asking me if I am sleeping with him?” Thom’s face dropped.

“No... are you?”

“Christ Thom! Could you just tell me what the hell you want? I have somewhere to be.”

“Where?”

“It is actually none of your business,” I snap.

“Another one of Myles great parties? Will he get you drunk enough to say something stupid so they can write something scandalous about you in the papers? Then deny he was the one who leaked it?”

“At least there will be something about me in the paper, that was always your problem. You just never got how the game works.”

“Your problem is that you’ve forgotten that it IS just a game. None of this shit matters it tore us apart you, me, and Wayne-”

“The only problem I ever had was you and Wayne. You were always jealous and Wayne was always high, you both tried to ruin everything we worked years for. I do what I do and I do it well, that’s why I’m here and you’re not.” I was done. I wanted to leave. I stood up and dropped enough money for both of our drinks and then some. “Goodbye Thom, next time just call. Actually, don’t.”

I walked out of the bar and through the lobby. I knew it would be a bad idea to see Thom. As I walked through the turnstile door I realized it had started to rain, perfect. Thom literally had rained on my parade. The noisy street was an abrupt change to the deafening silence from the bar. I was so angry I could spit fire. I just wanted to get drunk and forget about Thom and Wayne and all of it. I wanted to erase them.

I spotted my car and began walking towards it as the driver opened the door.

“Wayne, he’s dead,” Thom yelled at me against the busy street, “he died.”

I heard Thom call from behind me and the pain in his voice. Was he crying? My stomach dropped and I felt like I might faint. I couldn’t have understood him correctly, but I did. I paused in front of the car door and I could feel the large emptiness in my chest and the tears begin to well up and spill over. I wanted to turn around and run to Thom and cry with him over the loss of our friend, one of our only friends. But instead I got in the car and left him in the rain.

 

Hooked on a Feeling

When the driver pulled up to the club I ran past all of the photographers like a sprinter from Kenya. The flashing lights shine brighter than ever before and they bark out questions, each louder than the last as if the volume of their voices will be enough for me to turn around and answer. I don’t care about anything.

When I get through the doors the loud music is a welcomed relief. The loud thumping of this electronic melody is enough to make me stop thinking. But then it’s back and I remember.

Wayne is dead. How? How long has he been dead?

“Cilla,” I hear someone call. I ignore it. I go directly to the bar, faking smiles at all the people who think now is an appropriate time to kiss my ass. I walk over to a waitress carrying a tray full with shot glasses filled with most likely some expensive candy flavored liquor.

“Here you are Ms. Carson, what you’re drinking is an-”

“I don’t care what it is” I say a little nastier than I should have. I grab a shot glass off of her tray and look around and see an empty booth, or maybe those where someone’s drinks on the table. I don’t care they will just have to sit somewhere else. “Clear that booth and just put the tray on that table over there.”

“Not a problem,” I grab two shot glasses off her tray before she leaves to start clearing off the booth. I drink them quickly and place the empty glasses on another waiter’s tray. I use to like this place. The entire club has been turned into a monument for Metric Minute. It used to be an old opera theater but they renovated it and turned it into a giant night club with a huge stage at the far end. Wear people use to sit and watch, maybe phantom of the opera, there where now tables, booths, dance floors, and two giant floor bars. On the stage was a huge screen playing all of our music videos. I wanted to vomit.

When the waitress was done I sat at the table and drank two more of the fruity little shots. Why had I come here? I was going here anyway so I guess I thought ‘why make a plan b’. I looked around at all the people and suddenly realized they were all looking at me. Oh yeah I forgot, this was supposed to be MY party.

Wayne was dead.

The thought screamed in my ears. I felt like I was going to cry so I slammed down another god awful fruit shot. I was getting pissed. I thought about Thom standing there in the rain.

“There she is,” Myles came running over to me with a group of people I did not know. I remembered the conversation we had earlier about how there would only be people from the crew invited. Then I remembered my earlier conversation with Thom. Myles was a liar. I know he is just trying to keep the suits happy but I couldn’t deny what Myles was, a manipulating weasel. “Finally decided to grace us with her presence! These are just a couple of reporters from the local college newspaper. They wanted to know if you could shed some light on what it is like to be a rock star.”

I slammed another shot, “Myles when exactly were you going to tell me Wayne was dead?” Saying his name out loud filled me with such pain I could have screamed. Myles was stunned. He quickly got rid of the reporters and sat across from me.

“What do you mean?”

“Don’t lie to me. How long have you known.” He stops pretending and after a long pause I can see from his expression that he is about to spill the beans.

“This morning,” he admitted, “I just didn’t want to ruin your last show.”

“Don’t you mean you didn’t want me to cancel my last show? Wayne is fucking dead and you didn’t even THINK to tell me,” I was yelling at him now. He looked like a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar. I could see his beady little eyes struggling to come up with an explanation. Too bad I was not interested in hearing it.

“Cilla, the kid was a drug addict. You said so yourself! Everyone saw this coming. You hadn’t even talked to him in years.”

“That’s bullshit and you know it. I should have been told by you; instead Thom shows up at MY hotel and has to let me know that Wayne is dead.”

Just then the music stops and the DJ sees fit to announce to everyone that I have arrived and begins spinning our single. I want to die. Everyone is applauding and all I can think about is Wayne in the ground and Thom flying to Orlando because he knew this was the kind of information better relayed in person than through a telephone, especially when you didn’t know the number. The shots were not strong but they had done enough to make me feel light headed. Or maybe I was already light headed, I couldn’t tell.

I find it easy enough to fake a smile and wave. Myles is thankful for this but fuck Myles. Do I have Wayne’s mother’s number? Would she want to hear from me? When was the funeral? These questions are running through my mind so fast that I don’t even realize Myles is talking.

“Look, people die. I know this is hard but you have to understand, I was only trying to protect you.”

“Myles, shut up,” I grab two more shots and I leave him at the table. I’m on a mission to get out of there. I down one of the shots and am almost at the door when I feel someone grab my arm.

“Whoa, slow down. Are you ok?” It was Cal. Could I tell him? Had he known already? No, he couldn’t have. Wayne and Thom were not exactly celebrities. Even when they were in the band it was usually all about me. This thought pained me; the poor bastard wouldn’t even be mentioned on the six o’ clock news. Like no one remembered or cared. I could see Cal was waiting for a response.

“Yeah, yeah I’m fine. Just a little more exhausted than I thought. Being exceptional-” I pointed to one of the rolling stone cover posters plastered on the walls that had called my band exceptional “can be tiring you know, I think I am just going to go back to my hotel.” I tossed back the other shot and suddenly was starting to feel really drunk.

“Do you need someone to drive you?” He was sweet and obviously concerned. I was bitter and obviously drunk, so I said yes. Even though I had a driver I wanted to talk to someone who might actually WANT to listen to my drunken ramblings. Not someone who was paid for by the hour. Cal was not at all disappointed by having to leave the party early.

The drive back to my hotel sobered me up a bit, but not nearly enough. All I could think about was Wayne. I thought about Wayne and me in high school dreaming about being rock stars. Building fortresses in the woods and stealing joints from my Dad’s stash. I thought about the first time I caught Wayne with pills. He had used every trick in the book. They weren’t his, they were aspirin, they were from the LAST time I caught him with them. The stories were always the same and so was he. He would go good for a few months and then inevitably he would turn to drugs. But what a sweet face he had, and when he was good he could be anyone’s best friend. That was why we all loved him and found it in us to forgive him. Maybe we were the ones that killed him.

When everything went real sour between us right before we were going to really make it Wayne was totally out of control. He would show up high to practice and swear he wasn’t. I knew he was in trouble. But we were so close; I was SO CLOSE to becoming what I had always wanted. We were signed to a little indie label but I knew there was more. I knew we could go way far and beyond anything we had ever dreamed of. Wayne always liked Orlando.

“Wayne’s dead.” I said matter of factly. Saying it aloud made it so real. Cal looked over at me from the car, I had not spoken since we left the club and I’m assuming this is not what he expected me to say when I asked him to drive me back to my hotel room.

“What?”

“Wayne, my ex-drummer. He died this morning.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t be, it is nothing short of what I expected to happen. Wayne was always selfish.” How untrue was that? I was the one who was selfish. He needed help and where was I? Oh right, at a party contemplating if I should bring Cal up to my room or not. I was selfish.

When we pulled up to the hotel we sat in the car for an eternity. Cal was confused; he was twenty and obviously did not know what to do with me.

“Do you want a drink? There is a pretty ridiculous bar past the lobby.” Maybe Cal could make me forget about all the bullshit that had just happened. I knew I should’ve gone right up to my room and tried to call Wayne’s family and mine but that was just something I did not want to deal with tonight.

He thought about it and said yes. Probably because Cal is a good guy and he could tell that even though I seemed fine I wasn’t. We pulled up to the valet and got out. As we walked up to the doors I playfully grabbed Cal’s hand and tried to pretend everything was alright.

“Wait until you see this place,” I said with a smile. He smiled at me, so I guess he bought my fake enthusiasm. I was becoming an incredible liar.

 

That Old Familiar Itch

When we got to the bar it was clear that the bartender had been about to close shop for the night. I slipped him a few bills that probably added up to more than he made in a month so he had no problem staying open a little longer. Cal was impressed by this but also a little nervous. He made a point to buy his own drinks and I respected him for that, but I also thought it was stupid. Cal was cute but he was also dumb.

I needed to figure out if I wanted to take him to my room or not. One beer should be a long enough time to decide. The harsh light of the bar did not make him look as appealing as he had in the dressing room. Or maybe it wasn’t the lighting, maybe it was the fact that an hour earlier Thom had been sitting where he was.

“I can’t believe Wayne Jacobs is dead,” Cal said after a long awkward silence.

“Can you believe Thom Lombardi was the one to tell me?”

“Oh, he called?”

“No, he was here. Sitting exactly where you are now.” It was funny; the chair did not look as good as it did earlier.

“Thom Lombard was sitting RIGHT HERE? Holy shit,” Cal looked at his seat with awe.

“Take a whiff, maybe he farted.” I took a sip of my beer. Cal immediately regained his composure; he could tell I was annoyed. I wished Thom was still here. Maybe I could ask the bartender where he went.

“Ha.. yeah. So are you going to the funeral?”

“I don’t know. I have not talked to anyone yet. I kind of don’t want to go.” That was the truth. I didn’t know if I could handle seeing Wayne in a coffin.

“You don’t want to go?”
“Why wouldn’t I want to go? Oh I don’t know, my best friend is dead. It’s a funeral not a fucking release party” I spewed at him and Cal looked like he had just been slapped in the face. I took a deep breath in and said “I’m sorry.”

“It’s o.k.,” Cal said with a smile. He was nice, too nice. We sat there in silence for a little while and I thought about what to do next. This was not an ideal first date, sitting in a bar I had paid to stay open and talking about the recently deceased. Not that I had intended to date Cal, in fact I was pretty sure that once we had slept together I would find some reason to have him removed from the band. Things always got fucked up when you started sleeping with fellow musicians. He would be o.k. though. I’d make sure of that.

“Do you believe in God,” He asked.

“Do I believe if Wayne is with God? Flying with the angels and banging on some white pearl drum set?”

“No,” he smiled, “that is a way bigger question. I just asked if you believe in God.”

“That’s your idea of a smaller question?”

“O.K. maybe not, but you still haven’t answered.” I thought about all those award speeches where I thanked God. But was I sure he existed?

“I don’t know,” I told him.

“Well, whether you believe in God or not it wouldn’t hurt if before Wayne gets to wherever he is going he has a few people put in a good word for him,” Cal was talking about people showing up for Wayne’s funeral and saying goodbye. He said it in a playful enough way but it still hurt so badly. Where WAS Wayne going? Where did any of us go when we ‘went’?

I ordered another drink, something stronger this time. Enough talking about Wayne, I needed to get drunker. The rest of the time in the bar went buy in a blur. I did everything I could to get my mind off of Wayne. I pretended to listen to Cal when he spoke and threw in a ‘wow’ or a ‘really?’ when prompted. It was almost like a conversation people have in real life. But then without warning the night inevitably came to that early hour when you have to make a decision on whether you were going home alone or not.

When we wandered out into the hotel lobby I could see Cal was wondering if he would be invited up or not. The whole thing was so completely awkward. We came to a stop in front of the elevators.

“So where are you staying,” I asked.

“The Ocean Deck, it is just down the -”

“I know where it is,” I leaned back against the wall next to the elevators “for someone who claims to be such a big ‘fan’ of Metric Minute you seemed to have forgotten that this whole thing started in Florida.” I reached out to him and poked his chest, “I think you might be a little bit of a liar.” That made me laugh inside, if anyone was a liar it was me.

He looked down at my perfectly polished finger on his chest and smiled. He had a glazed happy look on his face, was he drunk? I hoped he was, this would be so much easier if tomorrow we could pretend it was booze that had made me take complete advantage of him and not the alarmingly obvious; I am seriously lacking self-control.

“I didn’t forget,” he said “I loved all of your old stuff. But the present is so much better.” He wrapped his hand around mine and stepped closer, almost eliminating any space between us at all. Was this the present that I had wanted? I stared at his lips and knew that this was it. I could feel his breath on my face and I knew all I had to do was move a fraction of an inch closer and that would be that.

But I couldn’t move. My frame was locked and I knew that it wasn’t going to happen. I dropped my head and did the first decent thing I had done all night.

“I can’t,” The words fell out of my mouth and I couldn’t believe I actually said them. I gently pushed him away before I changed my mind.

“I’m sorry,” Cal said it with such sincerity that I actually believed he was sorry. For what I didn’t know. If he thought that us sleeping together was a decision left up to him he was really sadly mistaken. “I’m an idiot; I can’t believe I just tried that. I am so SO sorry.”

I pushed the button and called the elevator, Cal was still rambling. I turned around and gave him a kiss on the cheek that made him shut up. “I said never, just not tonight.” I stepped into the elevator. Cal looked like he wanted to say something but couldn’t. “Don’t drive,” I said just before the elevator doors shut.

 

The next morning I woke up to my alarm beeping and a phenomenal pounding in my skull. I thought maybe it was all just a dream, maybe no one was dead and Thom had not come and rattled my brain. I rubbed my eyes and felt around aimlessly on the night stand for a button to silence the alarm. When I found it I climbed out of bed and saw the letter from Hemingway on the floor and came crashing down to reality.

I ordered breakfast and hoped that the coffee and food would pull me out of this drunken illness I had inflicted upon myself. Afterwards I got up the courage to call my mother. Something I had not done in a while, mostly due to the fact that I am constantly traveling but also because she sees through my bullshit and has no problem putting me in my place. I dial the number and brace myself for what I know is coming.

“Hello?”

“Hi Mom.”

“CILLA! Oh my God I have been trying to call you for hours!”

“I don’t have service in this hotel, something with the concrete walls,” of course this was a lie. I had been spending the past few hours in a drunken haze and avoiding contact with anyone at all costs.

“Honey are you ok? I know you must be so upset. This is so horrible.” I didn’t want to start crying so I took a deep breath and tried to calm the slow storm that was brewing inside of me.

“I’m ok.” Add that to the long list of lies I’ve told in the past 24 hours.

“When are you coming home?” I wanted to say never.

“I can be there tonight; I can’t really talk right now. I will be there tonight.”

“Ok, I will see you soon I love you!”

“Love you too.” I hung up the phone and stared around the room, I thought of all the things I would have to do. My mother lived in Flagler County, about an hour drive from here.

I picked up my phone again and dialed Myles’ number.

“I need to be in Flagler County by 5 p.m. tonight and before then I am going to need flowers sent to Wayne’s parents, my dry cleaning done, and someone to get in here to pack me a separate bag with a weeks’ worth of clothing and the rest all shipped back to the house in LA.”

“No problem. I will have someone-” I hung up on him. Today was going to be a long day.

The car ride to my mother’s house was surprisingly quick. Probably because I was wallowing in self-pity. When we pulled up in front of the house it made me feel better. My parents had bought this house when I was still a teenager. It was a really great house. Two floors and a really nice back yard with a pool. It was something my parents had always wanted to do. Living the American dream. Wayne had lived right down the street, who could have predicted that my parents finally buying a house and realizing one of their dreams would give birth to one of my own?

After my father passed away I tried to talk her into selling it. It just seemed like a lot of space for one person, like I am one to talk, but she said it made her feel closer to him. If there was actually a heaven I wondered if my Dad would be there to meet Wayne.

“Cilla!” My mother came rushing out of the house with arms wide open. It felt so good to see her, but at the same time her running towards me made me want to cry. When her arms fell around me I just let go and finally let it out. No more pretending to be brave, I didn’t have to in front of her. I cried for Wayne, I cried for leaving Thom in the rain, I cried for all of the things I had done to everyone.

Later that night my mother and I were sitting in her living room drinking coffee. It was a long running tradition my mother had, coffee at all hours of the day. When I was growing up I remember thinking it was strange when I would go over to one of my friends’ homes that their parents did not have a coffee cup attached to their hand the way my mother did. My mother can have coffee at any hour of the day. Hot, cold it doesn’t matter. Sometimes in the morning after her and my father had left for work I would find a coffee cup from her sitting in the microwave and my father’s morning cup of tea sitting on the counter. Little reminders that they were there hours before discussing their activities for the day before they lived them out.

When my father passed away that really would upset me. Seeing a mug filled half way with a tea bag sitting in it would send me right over the edge. I know it did the same thing to her so I was always conscience of that when I visited, always making sure to never leave a tea cup out on the counter to cause her any pain. She had been through enough.

My mother always has had an eye for design, in a Martha Stewart kind of way. Her kitchen is loaded with knick knacks and everything matches in such a perfect way. I always thought my mother should have been an interior designer, but she preferred a quiet life. While I had so far spent my life trying to acquire material possessions she had spent hers with her best friend, my father, building a life and a home. In so many ways she would always be more successful than me.

“Are you going to answer that,” she asked me. My phone had been ringing all day.

“It’s Myles; I don’t want to talk to him right now.”

“I understand, he really should have told you about this as soon as it happened. I never really liked that man.”

“He is alright. He just thinks business first.”

“Wayne’s mother is home you know. She would love to see you, I was there all morning.” I found it hard to believe Barbara would want to see me.

“I sent flowers-”

“You need to see her. End of story,” and with that she got up and took my cup out of my hand and proceeded to wash hers and mine in the sink. No matter how important or famous I became my mother’s word was law. I knew I had to go see her now.

I sunk back into the couch and tried to mentally prepare myself for this. I had no intentions on coming back to my parents’ home for my vacation; usually I just flew her out to see me. A picture of my parents and me at a Christmas party sat on the coffee table. I picked it up and examined it. My face was small and I had a pretty pronounced gap between my front teeth. I was sitting on my father’s lap and my mother was resting her head on his shoulders. All of us decked out in red. I couldn’t remember the last time I was that happy.

“I love that picture,” my mother called from the kitchen.

“Look at those teeth, no wonder the kids in school called me Bugs Bunny.” My mother walked over from the kitchen drying her hands with a dish towel and bent down to take a closer look at the picture.

“I think it made you look cute! My little bunny rabbit,” she teased and pinched my cheek. That made me smile. “I do miss your father.”

“Me too,” I said as I touched his face through the glass of the frame.

“Get dressed and go see Barbara,” she ordered.

“I am dressed!”

“I smell the booze from here Cilla; you are not going there like that. Take a shower.” I had forgotten to shower and change from the night before. I suppose it wouldn’t be very respectful of me to show up on Barbara’s doorstep in last night’s clothing and reeking of whiskey.

My old bedroom was exactly how I had left it. Posters of Blink 182 and Weezer all over the walls. Nothing telling you that a teenage girl inhabited the area. There was a picture of me and Wayne at battle of the bands on my night stand. He is so young and hopeful that it is breaking my heart all over again.

I sit on the edge of my old twin sized bed and hold the picture frame in my hand. There I am, sitting in front of Wayne’s bass drum holding my very first guitar. In the picture I am looking at him from over my shoulder while he sits behind his drum kit, if that’s what you can call it. Wayne’s first drum set was a collection of donor parts. Wayne fancied himself some kind of musical Dr. Frankenstein collecting discarded pieces of old drum sets and duct taped them together. He would often yell “It’s alive!” right before he would bust into an ear shattering drum solo.

His smile even now is infectious and I can feel my mouth stretching uncomfortably into a grin from looking at behind this dusty piece of glass. I knew then that I would have to go see his mother.


© Copyright 2020 Shanni Martin. All rights reserved.

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