Heart Songs

The prompt at Red Dress Club this week was to “Take a character from one of your stories and examine his or her iPod playlist. What 10 songs best describe the character?”  I chose to write about one of my characters from a previous post.

She trudged up the stairs to her apartment.  The quaint brick-faced building with the red door wasn’t much but it was hers.  The lock turned with a loud click and the clinking sound of the keys as they landed on the hall table echoed throughout the empty space.  No one greeted her, not even a cat.

She dropped her purse and coat onto a chair and walked into the kitchen.  Opening the cupboard door, she took out a wine glass, put it down on the counter and then surveyed her wine rack.  She found just what she was looking for – a big, chewy red.  After all, this was dinner, right?

The gurgle of the dark liquid filling the glass was deeply satisfying.  Closing her eyes, she took a long sip and let its warmth wash over her.  She held the glass to the light and was struck by the similarity that the thick, viscous liquid had to the life blood that had seeped from her body.  Again.  It had happened again.  A sob caught in her throat and she drowned it with another swallow of the wine, in some strange way associating this act with the replenishing of that which had drained from her.

She carried her glass into the den and slumped down into the chair in front of her computer.  Music.  That would help.  She would wallow in her misery with those who could relate to her pain.  She turned on her computer and opened her music folder, looking for something that would suit her mood.

Hmm, Natalie would understand, wouldn’t she? She double clicked on her selection and sat back to listen to Natalie Merchant’s, My Skin.  She knew every word and her heart broke as she sang them.

Take a look at my body
Look at my hands
There’s so much here
That I don’t understand

She certainly didn’t understand her body, how it wouldn’t hold onto the one thing that she truly wanted in this world.

I’m a slow dying flower
Frost killing hour
The sweet turning sour and untouchable

Yes, she felt like she was dying inside.  Untouchable.

I need a lullaby
A kiss goodnight
The angel sweet
Love of my life
Oh, I need this

Would she always be alone?  Tears streamed down her face as the song ended and she savoured the last long, slow notes of the violin, each swipe of the bow scraping across her heart like a serrated knife.

She sipped her wine for a moment in the silence then sat up to choose her next song.  Her eyes settled upon Kris Kristofferson’s, Why Me Lord?  She used to think that this song was about him lamenting all the things wrong in his life but when she learned all the words, she realized that he was being grateful for all that he had.  She chose it… but with her original perception in mind. 

Why me, Lord. 
What have I ever done
To deserve even one
Of the pleasures I’ve known?

Kris’s monotone voice filled the room and she was glad that she had invited him to this pity party.  When she sang the chorus along with him, all her hurt and anguish poured out with the words.

Lord, help me Jesus
I’ve wasted it, so help me Jesus
I know what I am
But now that I know that I’ve needed you
So help me Jesus
My soul’s in your hands

Try me Lord
If you think there’s a way
I could try to repay all I’ve taken from you
Maybe Lord
I could show someone else
What I’ve been through myself
on my way back to you 

Maybe it was a sign she needed to be more spiritual, more religious. Everything happened for a reason, right?  She just didn’t know what the reason would be for her to go through this life so alone.

The song ended and the phone rang.  A quick look at the call display told her it was her mother.  She really couldn’t deal with that right now.  She would, innocently, have some story about something cute that one of her sister’s kids had done.  “The baby smiles every time she sees me.  She is just so cute!” or “Tristan is hitting the terrible twos and I try hard not to laugh when he turns around and shakes his little finger at me.”  She didn’t begrudge her mother this happiness but it was more than she could bear at this moment.

She took another sip of her wine and turned her attention back to her computer.  She sobbed her way through Linda Rondstadt’s, I Never Will Marry.

I never will marry
I’ll be no man’s wife
I expect to live single
All the days of my life

Was this to be her life?

And more Natalie Merchant, My Beloved Wife.

You were the love for certain of my life
For 50 years simply my beloved wife
With another love I’ll never lie again

She would never know this.

Tony Braxton, Unbreak my Heart.

Don’t leave me in all this pain
Don’t leave me out in the rain
Come back and bring back my smile.
Come and take these tears away.

More wine, more music.

Bette Midler, Baby Mine.

Baby mine, don’t you cry.
Baby mine, dry your eyes.
Rest your head close to my heart,
Never to part, baby of mine.

She had so much to give a baby. She ached with the unspent love, painful and swelling inside her like a breast ready to burst with its need to have an infant suckle.

Il Divo, Mama.
Mama forgive the times you cried
Forgive me for not making right
All of the storms I may have caused
And I’ve been wrong, Dry your eyes [dry your eyes]

She picked up the bottle to pour herself some more wine and drained the remainder into her glass.

Neil Diamond, Red Red Wine.

Red, red wine, go to my head,
Make me forget that I
Still need you so.

The red wine was definitely going to her head but make her forget?  She was getting there but not quite.

She decided to play the UB 40 version of the song.

Red red wine you make me feel so fine
You keep me rocking all of the time

She laughed a little. That was more like it.

She was ready for something a little more upbeat.

Gloria Gaynor, I Will Survive.

I will survive
oh as long as i know how to love
I know I’ll stay alive
I’ve got all my life to live
I’ve got all my love to give
and I’ll survive
I will survive (oh)

Okay, this was good.  She was a survivor.  The thought made her smile as she drained her glass and turned out the light.  “On that note,” she said to herself, “I will go to bed.” She walked down the hallway to her bedroom feeling the effects of the wine and the music.


8 thoughts on “Heart Songs

  1. This was interesting Kelly. I enjoyed it thoroughly. There are so many hidden emotions and fears that you have portrayed here with character. it is sad and heart wrenching at some points. but then yes! she is a survivor.

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed listening in to this “pity party” and I'm glad the character ended it with “I Will Survive”.

    The description of the wine being “a big chewy red” really stuck with me. I'd love a glass of that right about now :-).

  3. I also loved your description of “a big chewy red.” Very descriptive! And I love your character's choice of music-especially Tony Braxton.
    Great job with the prompt!

  4. This was brilliantly woven! I loved the opening- the description of the chewy red, and the music blended in and pushed the story forward perfectly.

    Also? I love Natalie Merchant! 🙂

  5. You know what I loved about this post? I love how you started at a low point, but by the end your character has decided that she “will survive”. Brilliant!

  6. Thank you all for your comments. I cannot take all the credit for the description of the “big chewy red”. It is stolen from my brother in-law but he calls it F##@ Chewy Wine or FCW as we call it for short. lol

    Ratz and Jenna – I am glad that you felt the emotion that I was trying to portray.

    Victoria – Music always makes everything better. Cheers.

    Valerie – Although I am not very familiar with much of Toni Braxton's music, if this song is any indication then I am sure it is all good.

    Galit – Natalie Merchant is my absolute favourite. She is a brilliant poet and entertainer. I saw her for the second time last summer at an outdoor concert at a winery. Amazing!

    Katsidhe – Music can do that to you. It has the ability to change your mood and your outlook. It does for me anyways.

  7. Oh, my…the loneliness in this resonated so much. I could practically FEEL her loneliness as she poured the wine, sipped it, and gave herself over to the music. I can remember nights I've had like this…nights where the music spoke to me personally and made me feel not so alone. I'm glad she was able to let the music carry her back to a less lonely place.

    Great writing! Thanks so much for linking this up!

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