“I need you to cancel my 3 o’clock with the Shepards. I’ll be out of the office the rest of the day.” My fingers gripped my purse so hard the tips turned white.
Marcy nodded, her black ponytail bouncing. “Do you want your calls forwarded?”
“No, please just take a message.” I forced a smile, practiced and perfect after years of working in sales.
Marcy grinned back. “Will do. See you tomorrow.”
I hurried out the ornate door of the offices of Exquisite Haus Realty, my heels echoing on the marbled floors of the extravagant entry way. The air warmed as I approached the revolving doors. I merged into my compartment – the stickiness slamming into me – and walked into the afternoon heat.
I displayed none of my discomfort, my work mask fully in place. I slid my fingers into my purse, fumbling for my keys.
They dropped to the ground.
I stopped, bent, and picked them up.
They fell again, my fingers shaking.
“Let me help you.” The man was impeccably dressed and familiar, but I couldn’t place him. He reached for my keys and handed them to me.
“Th-thank you.” I bit my lip too late, the tiny stutter already loose.
“You are welcome.”
I tilted my head in acknowledgment and moved on before he continued the conversation.
I managed to unlock my car with the remote and slide into the soft exterior.
I twisted the key, the engine roaring to life. I flicked the dials to cool the air, and searched in my purse, pulling out my iPod.
I turned it on, going straight to my playlists.
Clients 1 – Older.
Clients 2 – Yuppie.
Clients 3 – Unknown.
I tapped “Old School” and the moans of ecstasy from White Zombie’s “More Human Than Human” blasted from my car’s speakers.
I turned the volume down and I kicked off my heels, tossing them into the passenger seat. I waited until I hit the interstate and cranked the volume; my body vibrated with the beat.
How many times had I faked an orgasm to this song, stoking the flames in John’s eyes until he transformed my cries into real ones?
Marilyn Manson’s “Sweet Dreams” shuffled into play and I screamed, “Some of them want to use you. Some of them want to get used by you.”
We’d used each other and loved every minute.
I giggled as Adam Sandler’s “Piece of Shit Car” floated to me. The description fit John’s high school junker perfectly. “I can’t see through the windshield, cause it’s got a big fucking crack, and the interior smells real bad, cause my friend puked in the back.”
Guilty. I never touched Goldschläger again.
“Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica was next. I still remembered how to tap the notes out on the piano.
He’d taught me one afternoon, after sneaking into the music practice room to avoid detention.
My grip tightened and my face dampened with tears.
I drove faster as the songs carried me into the suburbs.
Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” – the irony as he sang me to sleep.
Pantera’s “Becoming” – my shoulder dislocated after crowd surfing.
“Under the Bridge” by Red Hot Chili Peppers – his voice stealing the senior talent show.
“Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey – his merciless teasing because I loved the song.
“Thriller” by Michael Jackson – getting busted for pranking our principal on Halloween.
Fields increased as houses vanished, the countryside opening before me. I turned into a state park, the path etched in my memory. The trees barely marked the passage of time since I’d last been here, the six years a tiny blip in their life cycle.
Then it came on: the Jeff Buckley version of “Hallelujah”, replacing the older Cale cover as my favorite.
I barely made it to our old spot before my vision clouded, the tears racing down my cheeks.
“Well there was a time when you let me know
What’s really going on below
But now you never show that to me do you?
But remember when I moved in you
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was hallelujah.”
Distance. Pulling away. The end of us.
The call today from his younger brother.
“Take a character from one of your stories and examine his or her iPod playlist. What 10 songs best describe the character?”
This prompt is from Writers Digest.
This is fiction, taking place about a week and a half before “Stood Up.”