American Pie

A couple months ago I submitted two different short stories to the Los Angeles Public Library Summer Writing Contest.

I’m very pleased to announce that one of those stories, an allusion packed piece about life and music, was one of the winners of the contest. You can read my story here:

https://lapubliclibrary.short-edition.com/story/1m/american-pie

I’ll post the second story in a couple days. In a lot of ways, I actually liked it more.

So, my faithful kingdomites, give American Pie a read and let me know what you think. Does it resonate with you? How many song references can you spot? How was your summer in these crazy times?

lines from a song writing prompt 4

Below I’m posting a bit from a song I love and then I’ll write something around it (not necessarily in the context from the original source but maybe).  If the line grabs you, please steal it and play along too.  Post a link in the comments so I can check out what you did with it as well.

……….

“… and hear your voice of treason.”

……….

He was all mixed up.  She had a way of turning his thoughts inside out.  He didn’t know what he could trust because even his feelings seemed to betray him recently.  Did he love her?  Did he despise her?  Sometimes that depended on the second.

When she curled against him his heart soared.  When she lashed out at him, he sank.  When she sought him out for companionship, for love, he felt he could hold her forever.  When she was intentionally destructive, he couldn’t understand how things could go on.

Minute by minute, day by day, weeks, and months, and years, their relationship carried on in this manner until finally time took its toll on his beloved and she passed.  Then, when she was no longer in his life, he knew that he had loved her all long.  And, as the vet helped him pick out a marker for his dead cat, he couldn’t help himself from singing, “and hear your voice of treason, will you come home and stop this pain tonight, stop this pain tonight.”

lines from a song writing prompt 3

Below I’m posting a bit from a song I love and then I’ll write something around it (not necessarily in the context from the original source but maybe).  If the line grabs you, please steal it and play along too.  Post a link in the comments so I can check out what you did with it as well.

……….

“And the three men I admire most, the father, son and the holy ghost, they caught the last train for the coast.”

……….

The station was a mess.  People running every which way trying to catch their connections.  Late.  Everyone was always late.  Coming or going.  North or south.  It didn’t matter.  Trains always ran late and that meant everyone was always in a hurry when they finally made it to the station.

That was only part of the mess, though.  Others sat around, blocking the hallways and generally bottling up the whole works.  Tears in their eyes.  Down trodden and depressed, the moved slowly with lowered heads and slumped shoulders.  Sometimes they congregated together but most of the time they stayed as far apart as their was room for.

Those were the two general reactions people had when they’d heard the news.  They either raced about frantic or they stopped altogether and did nothing.  They couldn’t be blamed, of course.  Nothing like this had ever happened before.  Nothing like this would ever happen again.

I’m not sure why they chose me but when they called I answered  because I admired them so greatly and then dropped them off at the station.  I even walked them to their platform to make sure they got off okay.  I didn’t ask why they were going and they didn’t offer an explanation but off they went all the same, to the coast of all places.  Why not, I guess.  Perhaps things would be different there.

Here the music had died and life would never be beautiful again.

lines from songs writing prompt 2

Below I’m posting a bit from a song I love and then I’ll write something around it (not necessarily in the context from the original source but maybe).  If the line grabs you, please steal it and play along too.  Post a link in the comments so I can check out what you did with it as well.

……….

“The silent night is shattered by the sounds inside my mind.”

……….

She knew she was getting sicker.  Every day the volume of her life seemed a little higher and little more out of control.  She found herself seeking ways to mitigate the sound.

First she gave up listening to the radio in the car.  That allowed her to fight her way, with clenched teeth and hands at times, through the long hours of work before she once again could seek refuge in the car on the way home.  Then she convinced her boss that she needed to work from home to take care of her aging parents who, in truth, had died several years before.  Then she had begun to wrap everything in cloth because even the sound of clean pates being stacked together in the cupboard could bring her to tears.

No television.  No phone.  No social engagements.  No sound at all.  She even stopped talking to herself as she went about her daily chores.  Then she had to start seeping with ear plugs in because the sound of her breath rustling the sheets was like nails on a chalkboard.

Throughout this escalation she had known she was sick and getting sicker, she hadn’t wanted to admit it though.  And then it escalated so quickly at the end that she was too afraid to ask for help.  But then, she realized she had to seek help because her final refuge had been stolen from her.  She could her own thoughts.  They rang out like crashing bells on a clear morning, setting her teeth to chattering and jostling every last nerve.

She couldn’t handle a phone call so she sat down and began to slowly and carefully, mitigating the sounds of the keys clicking, type out an email to her doctor.

“I need help.  It is as though the sound of the world has all been aimed at me.  Everything slams against me louder and louder.  As i sit here and write this, the silent night is shattered by the sounds inside my mind.”

one moment

Adulting is hard.

Parenting is harder.

But then there are moments where everything comes together…

Picture, if you will, a simple car ride up the street to run an errand, four-year-old ensconced in his chair in the back, and a familiar tune begins to play through the speakers.  My voice comes in to join the singer’s, as is my way, and a small voice from the backseat chimes in.  And there it is.  I’m singing in the car with the little prince.

I didn’t ask him to sing.  I didn’t force him to learn the words.  It was a familiar song, yes, one I’ve played a lot, one that I’ve sung to a lot, one he has sung to before on his own at home.  He memorized the words on his own, though, and in that moment he chose to sing with me rather than just listen, rather than telling me stop singing so he could sing, rather than telling me to stop so we could just hear the true artist.  He joined his voice, small as it was, so we would be singing together.

I don’t know that I could adequately explain why that meant so much to me, both in general and on that day and I doubt he had any idea, but I nearly cried.  I grew up singing in the car.  Some of my earliest memories are of my dad thumping a steady rock beat out on the center console while the whole car exploded with our (often terrible) singing.  Leaving that image as is, perhaps it is best to only add that music has always played a major role in who I am, from casual listener, to instrumental student, to DJ…  Music has defined many of the milestones of my revolutions around the sun.

Adulting is hard and parenting is harder and that’s okay because I’m occasionally given moments of such joy that I know all the struggles are worthwhile.  Singing in the car with the little prince was one of those moments.  I can’t wait to do that again.  I can’t wait to see what the next moment will be too.

The song ended and I turned in my seat to say over my shoulder, my voice catching a bit in my throat and my eyes straining to hold back the tears while a smile lit my face, “I love you, kiddo.”

“Why?”

Adulting is hard.

Parenting is harder.