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Fiction Sad Romance

In the Mood was playing as I walked into the club that night. That tune isn’t exactly my favourite of Glenn Miller’s hits, but it did what it said on the tin and by the time I’d ordered my bourbon and had a taste of that amber nectar, my foot was tapping along to the music and I was looking around the room to see what I could see. Besides, Miller was on fire and about as popular as could be. Little did I know it at the time, but he’d have almost as many hits as The King and The Beatles combined, and in only a few years too. Now that’s big!

Wait…

That can’t be right can it? How do I know about that? Come to think of it? How do I know about The King and The Beatles when they haven’t happened yet? There’s something not right here. Only…

Pardon me, boy…

Now this was more like it. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Chattanooga Choo Choo. Funny thing about music, your objective self may pick apart a song and provide you myriad reasons why you shouldn’t like it, but the music isn’t bothered with that stuffy, logical aspect of a person and it goes right on doing what it does and it speaks to that part of a person that really digs it. The soul. Music speaks to the soul.

I had my back to the bar and I left my examination of the dance floor until last. I didn’t have an agreed strategy when it came to getting my bearings and seeing what was what, and only now do I suppose that I started with the outer part of the room. The standers and the sitters. I think maybe I was looking for someone I might ask to dance, either that or I related to those who were sitting it out. The outsiders. Like me.

Now I am attending to the part of the room I haven’t cast my eye over yet, although every now and then the band catch my eye and I have to take a moment to watch them doing their thing. Music is magic, and to watch the maestro and his band work their magic is something else. It’s a shame that the war came along and Miller ended up in the English Channel before 1944 was out.

Something is wrong here…

Something really is not right. I’m spinning. I can feel this gentle spinning motion, as though I’m… On a roundabout. In a playground. Just like it felt when I was a child…

Pennsylvania 6-5000…

Now this is a tune, and the band are playing with it. It goes on for longer than the standard three minute version I’ve listened to before. This is jazz and the band know their art. I can feel the music in my chest and I feel a joy and freedom I don’t feel any other time in my life. I can’t remember the last time I felt like this. 

I can’t remember…

Then I see her and nothing else matters.

Ever had a moment like that in your life? Everything else fades away so as not to be important anymore. Your peripheral vision is there, but in a way it isn’t, it’s just a blurred wallpaper creating a corridor at the end of which is your total focus. 

If you’ve had that moment, you’ll also know that time slows and the volume of the music and the chattering voices is turned down all the way to one on the dial. This is time, space and the whole kaboodle of the universe telling you that this is important and that you better pay attention, buster.

She is important…

I had never seen her before this moment, and yet it is as though I have known her all my life. It’s the smile that hooked me. That smile. I would do anything to evoke that smile. My chest is bursting as I imagine her smiling just for me, because those eyes light up with a wonderful light that fills me and keeps filling me until I’m alive with an energy that changes this life of mine entirely. I’ve seen the one person that will make me do the right things with my life. Right there and then, I want to live a better life so that I am worthy of that smile. I want everything and everything is in that smile. If I make this woman happy? Well, my life is a success and I get to be the happiest man alive.

I don’t know how I got from the bar to the dance floor. I don’t remember any of that, not even putting down my bourbon. I don’t speak, or at least I don’t recall having spoken. All that matters is that now I am in the midst of these merry, dancing souls and I am with her.

The swing plays and I join her in a dance that never stops and I don’t want it to. I want this moment to go on for ever and always. This is the moment in my life and I don’t want it to end. This is that life changing point where everything is possible. The first step into a wonderful life, and I wonder if I ever appreciated it for what it was. I do now, but at the time maybe it passed me by. 

Was it really like this?

Darkness.

Light.

I’m rising in the air and I am filled with light.

I am falling back and I am filled with a dark dread.

The light, and then the dark. To and fro. Around and around. To and fro. Swinging on a disorienting pendulum.

Swing.

The music stops and she is laughing in the space the music has left for her. That there is music to my ears and I find myself grinning at her in a way I have never grinned before. I feel like my face is going to split in two, my grin is that wide. 

She stops laughing and her face becomes serious. There is something about the way she looks at me. There’s a gravity to it and the inevitable, it just happens. Our mouths come together in the most unimaginable and amazing way and I am spinning and I am rising and I lose myself in her.

I am lost.

She is gone.

I am laying on a cold, hard floor.

Staring at an unremarkable ceiling.

Suddenly, I know where I am and what is happening and I feel a single tear roll down the side of my face as I lay there. 

This is it then?

“I have some good news,” Doctor Bart Jones tells me.

Bart is a good friend of mine. The best. We’ve known each other since way back. We’ve known each other longer than I care to recall. He’s also my doc, and I am here because my wife told me I had to make this appointment after what she called my funny turn.

“Uh-oh,” I say to Doc Bart with a smile, “is there some bad news too?”

That’s when I know something is off. Bart doesn’t answer. He doesn’t have to. His eye twitches. I know that twitch, only seen it less than a handful of times, but it’s a tell and it means trouble. This time the trouble is for me and that is big trouble. You see, the other times I’ve seen that twitch, I’ve been able to intervene and pull him back from the brink. This time I can’t do that, so there is no avoiding what comes next.

“Better tell me the good news,” I say to him in a monotone.

He adopts the same monotone, “the tests have all come back and that bad bout of indigestion that Martha insisted you have checked out?”

I nod, dreading the next bit.

“You had a heart attack,” he tells me.

“Oh,” I say dumbly.

“Oh indeed,” he says, “by rights, you shouldn’t be here. You’re in bad shape Paul and you’re living on borrowed time.”

Now I’m already numb. But I can feel something coming, and that something is much worse than what he called the bad news. Is it the way he said those last words?

Borrowed time.

He’s my friend, this isn’t exactly me thinking this. It is a thought in my head, but it is detached and it remains detached. This is off. He is off.

“What’s the bad news?” I ask my oldest and dearest friend.

It’s a question I don’t want to ask, but I’m compelled to. I don’t have a choice and sometimes you never have a choice. There are times when the music plays and all you can do is dance.

Bart smiles a smile that doesn’t reach his eyes, “I’m sleeping with Martha.”

Then the numbness takes me and I’m someplace else. I can hear the music that Bart insists on playing in the background. Jazz mostly. Jazz from before my time. Popular music that endures. 

Some things are forever.

Others, it seems, are not.

This is it then, I think to myself. Bart’s good news was good news for him and bad news for me. I’ve had a good life and I had my time with Martha. It’s swings and roundabouts, I suppose. I wonder whether I’ll remember this bit afterwards. I hope I don’t.

I’m spinning.

I’m swinging to and fro.

Then the music stops.

July 16, 2022 14:21

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2 comments

Lily Finch
23:33 Jul 27, 2022

Very cleverly written. Indeed! Sometimes the sentences were long. However, it was almost written with a jazzy feel with those long sentences followed by short interjections. The doctor successfully finishing off his friend was fantastic. In some cases, I suggest watching your use of relative pronouns. I enjoyed this read. Thank you. LF6

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Jed Cope
08:49 Jul 28, 2022

Thank you for taking the time to give me this feedback. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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