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Fiction Romance LGBTQ+

I have something no one else has.  I hear music. All. The. Time. The experts call it Auditory Hallucination but, for me, it’s an internal soundtrack. It’s part of me, a living, breathing organism that is compelled to comment on everything by way of song. Everything.


It began happening as I was first learning to talk. At the same time my infantile brain was putting the pieces together to connect sounds to syllables to objects, there were some additional cells working overtime to acquire an inventory that would provide a musical score to my life that only I could hear.


My twin brother Mason didn’t experience what I did. He told me when we were older he could sense I had something going on inside me that others couldn’t hear or know about, even before I could describe it.  Our parents simply assumed I was pensive.


I just didn’t know how to turn down the music.


*  *  *

The doctors tested me for everything under the sun and could not detect a single abnormality that could account for this unique phenomenon. They did what people of science almost always do when unable to understand or explain something; they chalked it up to stress.


You put de lime in de coconut, you drink dem bot’ togedder.  You put de lime in the coconut and den you'll feel bedda. . .and call me in the morning


They didn’t know. And that’s okay, but don’t try feeding me remedies when you don’t even know what the condition is. 


I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in


*  *  *


“Maisy, I really want -- no, I need you to come and meet Sylvie. She’s everything I’ve ever wanted but I can’t propose without you meeting her.”


I’m getting’ married in the morning, ding dong the bells are gonna chime


“You know, Mason, we talked about this when you moved to Vegas, that there were going to be times I wouldn’t be able to afford to fly out to see you at a moment’s notice. My life is here in NYC.”


I’ve got to live, not merely survive, and I won’t give up this dream of life that keeps me alive


“Does this mean you found a job?”


“Yeah, well, no.  I’m still working on it. I just interviewed to be a caterer’s assistant in midtown. It looks promising.”


Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses, you’ve been out ridin’ fences for so long now


“I’ll pay for your flight.”


Money makes the world go around the world go around the world go around


“Mase, is it that important?  Really, like right now?”


“I wouldn’t ask otherwise.”


I hate flying.


Leavin’ on a jet plane 


* * *


Mason, good as his word, paid my plane fare. It was a red-eye flight that had me nose to nose with a full moon right outside my window seat that crooned to me and would not let me rest.


Moonrise, thoughtful eyes, staring back at me from the window beside


I hadn’t told Mason yet but I’d broken things off with Horace, my latest boyfriend, due to unsustainability. That means it wouldn’t, couldn’t, shouldn’t last.  I was more sure about the break-up than I’d ever been about the relationship. This was a good thing, a healthy thing. I should be happy.


I’m not in love, so don’t forget it, it’s just a silly phase I’m going through


I’ve done the right thing.


But on second thought I’ll turn a-round in my tracks


Oh my God, what have I done?


Stop! In the name of love before you break my heart


What if he was it? Maybe I should call him when we land.


It’s too late, baby, now it’s too late


Well, maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.


It was really great but it’s over


Who am I kidding. It was never great.


Tainted love, oh oh oh, tainted love


Enough already! Who asked you!


* * *


Once landed, I joined the herd of red-eyed passengers, fueled by excessive caffeine or alcohol, as we shuffled past the plasticine stewards and stewardesses on our way to the Vegas experience.


with looking-glass ties. Suddenly someone is there at the turnstile


When we could see the terminal from the tunnel, I kept my eyes open for Mason.


The girl with kaleidoscope eyes


That’s when I saw her.


Pretty woman walkin’ down the street, pretty woman the kind I like to meet


If ever there was such a thing as Cupid’s arrow, evolution must have pitched in and lent a hand because the modern version was more of an exploding grenade, and I was completely leveled.


Wipeout   


So shaken was I by the sight of her, I had to stop and seriously focus to really see her. She was all sensory and wistful perception and I was a shimmering hotwire just looking at her.


Lookin’ so crazy, your love’s got me lookin’, got me lookin’ so crazy in love


I approached slowly and, as she came into focus, I could see everything about her was soft. Her curves, her face, her aura. 


You shake my nerves and you rattle my brain, too much love drives a man insane


Looking at this woman was all I wanted. I felt deeply drawn to her as if she was there for me only, and that we already had a connection.  It was when I entered the terminal that I could see. . . Mason?


What kind of fool am I


I try to snap out of it, but when Jason grabs me in our traditional bear-hug, including the customary "Grrrrrr" as a means to claim each other as our territory, Mason is right on cue but my growl sounds more like gargling.


Mason releases me, laughing.


“Geez, Maise, have a couple on the flight?”


“Uh, no, I . . . well, yes, I . . .”


“Syl, this is the better part of me. This is Maisy.”


“Hi, Maisy,” Sylvia extends her hand.


“Ow!”


As our fingers touched, we both got shocked. You could hear it and I swore I could see the electricity pop. Then we really stared at each other.


“Whoa! Sparks flying? Now you know how I feel,” Mason said, laughing.


Sylvia broke into a wide grin.


“Is that all you have for luggage?”


“This is it.”


“Let’s go then.”


We’re off to see the wizard


* * *


During the drive to Mason’s house, now shared with Sylvia, I tried quieting my mind amidst Mason’s familiar banter. I only took in a fraction of it and I really had to fight not to drift too far away.


I’d never been in love, not really.


And then I saw her standing there, well, she looked at me and I, I could see


I knew that now.


That before too long, I’d fall in love with her


But this has to be some sort of mistake.  I have a long history with men.


I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never never never let you forget you’re a man


I’ve never been attracted to a woman before.


I kissed a girl and I liked it, taste of her cherry Chapstick


Doesn’t count. That was in high school and Francine Gilroy raided her parents’ liquor cabinet and, after all, it was a slumber party.  


It felt so wrong, it felt so right


Arrgh! Anyway, nothing’s happened, nothing’s going to happen. This is just a whole lot of nothing I’m thinking.


Let it go! 


Please. Shut up.


* * *


I awoke the next morning and checked the clock to see if the light that had stirred me to consciousness was the sun or the moon.    


Good morning good morning, it’s great to stay up late, good morning good morning to you


4 a.m. Vegas time. This was the time I was accustomed to getting up back home. Still moon but not for much longer.


I’m being followed by a moon shadow


I sat up and looked around my brother’s guest room. I could remember when it was his “home gym,” consisting of various weights, towels, an exercise bike and a stack of men’s health magazines.


It’s the eye of the tiger


It had been transformed into a cozy second bedroom complete with bed, bureau, desk, chair. It was clean, comfortable and certainly not my brother’s doing.


Our house is a very, very, very fine house


After freshening up in the guest bath, I went to the kitchen. I knew Mason would still be asleep.


And then I saw her face


Breathe. It’s only her.  


Now I’m a believer


“Morning.”


“Mason said you’d probably be up early. I made coffee.”


Here comes the sun


“Great.”


“Sit.”


Doo-doo-doo-doo


The breakfast table was set for three.  I poured a cup of coffee for myself, spilling a bit of it before replacing the pot.


You date a girl and find out later she smells just like a percolator


“There I go.” I dabbed at the spot with a napkin. 


Sylvia leaned forward.


“Don’t give it a thought. Drink your coffee.”


She put a hand over mine to stop me.


See me, feel me. Touch me, heal me.


“Mason’s told me how close you two are. I was really looking forward to meeting you.”


Hello, I love you, won’t you tell me your name


I sipped my coffee.


“Sylvia, I have to be honest with you. Mason hasn’t told me much at all, other than you’re everything. I’m completely in the dark.”


“It just all happened so fast.”


Hello, I love you, let me jump in your game


“I figured something like that. Where’d you meet?”


Sylvia smiled.


“In line at Coffee Express. I was a few people behind Mason and our eyes met. I don’t know, it was sort of instant. You know?”


I kept silent.


Getting to know you, getting to know all about you


“He paid for my order before it was my turn. I went to thank him and that was pretty much it.”


I nodded.  


Getting to know you, getting to hope you like me


“Serendipity.”


“So you do know.”


“Beginning to.”


Putting it my way but nicely


We smiled at each other then.


You are precisely my cup of tea


“So, Sylvia, what’s on the agenda?”


“Call me Syl.”


* * *


The three of us spent that first day sightseeing. The walking was good for easing my jetlag. 


That evening Mason had to work. He was a dealer at the Venetian Resort casino, so Sylvia and I tagged along. I watched as Mason kissed Sylvia before heading to his table. They looked good together, I thought, finally having come around to a level of comfort with the situation.


“All right, you two. Remember I have an image to uphold around here, not to mention a livelihood.”


“Not to worry,” I said, “your secrets are safe with me.”


“Oh, no, they’re not!”


Sylvia grabbed my arm, blew a kiss to Mason and swept me away.  After being outfitted with a huge cup of coinage and another filled with Tequila Sunrise, we headed for the slots.


If you’re a strong female, you don’t need permission


“This is your most important choice of the evening.”


“What is?”


Girls just want to have fun


“Picking your machine. It could mean the difference between going home rich or poor.”


“What if I just leave right now?”


“What, and miss out on all the fun? Besides, you can’t win if you don’t play.”


It’s all about the game, the way you play it


“Why don’t I let you choose. You know more.”


“No, just because you’ve done something before doesn’t mean you know what you’re doing.”


Baby, I’m yours and I’ll be yours until the stars fall from the sky


“Then, you choose first.”


“Oh, my li’l darlin’ is right over here. Follow me.”


Hey li’l darlin’ oh li’l darlin’, oh ho where are you


The next aisle over, Sylvia went straight to a slot machine, set her cups into waiting holders, grabbed a couple disinfectant wipes for her hands and the machine. Only then did she throw her arms around it in greeting.


“How I’ve missed you.”


Ain’t no sunshine when you’re gone


I set my cups into the holders of the, thankfully, available slot machine next to hers.


“Want me to leave you two alone?”


She laughed and the hair on the back of my neck rose, tingling.


You’ve been thunderstruck yeah-yeah-yeah thunderstruck


“We are gonna have fun tonight!”


* * * 


In the first ten minutes of play, I was winning. I didn’t know how, I didn’t know how much, I didn’t really understand a winning combination from a loser, only that the noise, the lights, the energy the room generated made my drinks go down like juice. 


A waiter, who probably moonlighted as a Chippendales hunk, came by to see if we needed anything. You could have knocked me over with a feather, but Sylvia barely paid him any mind.


As a matter of fact, she rubbed my arm when she asked if I’d like another drink and looked right into me as I nodded.  She beamed at me as if I’d said something utterly brilliant and then ordered us another round.


This went on and on. We drank, we won some, lost some. And we laughed. I’d never felt so loose, so free, not for as long as I could remember.


Mason came by on his break.  He made a gallant attempt to cut through our inebriated pronouncements of Sylvia’s gambling finesse and my beginner’s luck being the winningest combination on the premises and, in the end, stood back staring at us like a bemused parent. Eventually he smiled, slightly shaking his head, and went back to work.


After some time had passed and I’d lost a couple rounds, Sylvia asked me if I thought we should quit while we’re ahead and cash in.


I stared at the pile of winnings before me. I knew what I should do, I knew the right thing would be to stop.


If this is wrong then I don’t wanna be right


“Let’s shoot the wad!” I shouted.


Syl stopped and looked at me. Before I knew what was happening, her lips were pressed on mine, her face, as soft as I’d imagined, her tongue like velvet. She had her hands in my hair and, as I responded to her touch, I could feel her pulse, and mine.  I’d never experienced anything so delicious.


I’ll never really know for certain how long the kiss lasted. In my mind, it didn’t matter. In my heart, it would never be long enough.  Funny thing is, maybe a song played. I can’t be sure. For the first time, I’d tuned it out. 


“I really think we should grab our profits and get out of here,” Sylvia breathed.


Come-on-a my house, I’m gonna give you candy


I nodded.


As we broke from each other to gather our things, I caught the eyes of a pair of older ladies, seasoned players with cups in one hand while they sipped a couple of Pink Squirrels from the other.


They stopped sipping long enough to give me winks and a knowing smile.


Baby, you're a firework


I turned back and quickly swept coins into my cup.


My god, we’re the show


* * *


In the taxi heading back to Mason’s . . . er, Mason and Syl’s house, Sylvia was busy texting Mason to tell him we were tired, we were going to take our winnings and run. Then she reached over and took my hand.


I looked in the driver’s rearview. His eyes met mine for a second and then veered back to the road.


“Syl?”


The first time ever I saw your face


“Hm-m?”


“I’m thinking . . .”


She was on me, this time rougher, commanding.  She had my face in her hands and there was urgency in this kiss. I was lost in it, as lost as any fugitive could ever hope to be. 


When she drew away, she found my ear and whispered.


“Don’t do that.”


I couldn’t anyway, considering I’d forgotten what we’d been talking about.


I ignored the taxi driver the rest of the way.


Might as well face it, you’re addicted to love


* * *


She attacked me again once the front door was closed and locked. Sylvia wouldn’t turn on any of the lights so that no one would see us.  We wound up falling more than once.  


Gradually we made our way to the guest room and collapsed on my bed. 


“What’s wrong?”


“You didn’t just ask me that.”


“But . . .”


“There’s a song I can’t get out of my head.”


“Can’t find the off switch?”


“Don’t have one.”


“What do you mean you don’t have one?”


I leaned back to see if she was serious.  She was. I leaned on an elbow.


“Mason didn’t tell you.”


“All right, the thrill is gone. Tell me what, Maisy.”


“I hear songs. In my head. All day, all night.”


“You mean just random tunes?”


“No, they tend to fit the circumstances I’m in.”


Sylvia was quiet.


“Assuming you’re not shittin’ me, what were you hearing, listening

to, just now?”


“Your Cheating Heart. What else?”


Sylvia sobered.


“Of course.”


“Listen, why don’t we talk about it in the morning?”


“Yeah, well, maybe you’re right.”


With that, Sylvia got up and walked to the door. She turned before leaving.


“This was a first for me, Maisy. It just seemed right. I can’t explain it.”


“It seemed so wrong, it seemed so right.”


“Good song.”


“So is Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart.”


“There really is a song for everything, isn’t there?”


“Trust me, there is.”


Sylvia turned to go.


“What will you do now, Sylvia?” I asked, “about Mason, I mean.”


“I don’t know. I need time.”


But we will always know what we are: Unfinished business


May 25, 2023 17:44

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19 comments

Chris Miller
23:01 May 30, 2023

Hi Susan, Mixing in the lyrics is a great idea and it probably means that everyone's experience of reading the story is a bit different depending on which songs they know and how they feel about them. Thunderstruck jumps out for me and then "shoot the wad" triggers Shoot to Thrill. I couldn't help adding more songs in. Fun story. And now I have AC/DC stuck in my head...

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Susan Catucci
13:07 May 31, 2023

Haha, well, assuming you have an off switch, AC/DC isn't so bad to have on a loop. It's at least energizing. I always get stuck on The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face and hear the rest of it, it's so hauntingly beautiful. The whole idea stemmed from the fact we all have a soundtrack and there really is a song for everything. My first slow dance was to Hey Jude, etc etc. It's personal and universal at the same time. Really fun writing this one. I'm so glad you took the time - enjoy hearing from you. :)

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Chris Miller
16:06 May 31, 2023

Roberta Flack. Absolutely beautiful. I have a vinyl copy. I will listen to it tonight. Good luck with whatever you are working on.

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Susan Catucci
17:18 May 31, 2023

Thank you - the very same to you!

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Graham Kinross
11:47 Dec 25, 2023

I like the very messy situation this sets up with humour as if the story is winking and nudging us all the way through. I know most of the songs so I was listening along to them as I read it. Very effective.

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Susan Catucci
14:06 Dec 26, 2023

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Graham. I'm happy you enjoyed reading - with a backbeat. I'd just read a story written about a character taken from song and this idea was a spark from that. Yep, life is messy - but great.

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Graham Kinross
15:03 Dec 26, 2023

You’re welcome Susan. Merry Christmas.

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Mike Panasitti
22:28 Jun 12, 2023

This is a bold experiment in form. Pity I couldn't put music to some of the lyrics, but "Hello, I love you, let me jump in your game" stand out for someone who often resorts to Jim Morrison as a muse in times of uncertainty. Thanks for sharing.

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Susan Catucci
01:21 Jun 13, 2023

Thanks, Mike - appreciate you reading and commenting. Jim Morrison was a stand-out poetic force who knew how to use words to their fullest effect; same way he sang. I doubt he could help but be who he was. I'm just glad I had an older brother who bought all the Doors albums and educated his younger siblings. I can still hear People are Strange in my childhood song list. Lots to love there.

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Michał Przywara
20:48 May 30, 2023

This starts off with a cool setup, with the constant music, and then you crank it up to 10 when Maisy falls for Syl. And then to 11 when Syl reciprocates. What a delightful mess :) Of course for the three of them, this is a horrible situation and it seems like there has to be heartbreak. But the way it’s presented, nobody seems outright cruel or vile. We're inclined to believe this could be love, even if inconveniently timed. Other than that, the soundtrack was a neat idea. Seems like there really is a song for all occasions. It's also n...

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David Andrew
03:53 May 30, 2023

Susan- What a great story. Do you experience auditory hallucinations? I do, and your use of them, though different from my experience, was very accurate and made me feel very seen. It definitely felt like you've been there yourself, whether you have or not. I really loved the story as well, and I think I would have just as much without the auditory hallucination aspect. By that I mean that the story had good meat on its bones, so that the little lines between could be seasoning. I could imagine this being really contrived and forced if the...

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Susan Catucci
13:38 May 30, 2023

Hi David - Thank you for your amazing feedback. I haven't experienced AH myself but I have a younger sister who did and we'd talk about it; she'd repeat to me what she was hearing. I hadn't thought about it for ages but this prompt brought it back for some reason. I'm grateful that you shared your generous thoughts about the story. It's one of those that I just found myself loving each character and wanting to do right by them. To have it resonate with others, if just a touch, is wonderful. So, again, thank you for your feedback. I...

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Lily Finch
19:02 May 26, 2023

Susan. What a well-written, perfectly chosen lyrics story you have here. I knew every one of them too. It must be my age. Maisy reminded me of Romeo Montague. Just sayin'. With instant love, literally sparks, flying between her and her sister-in-law was a great storyline. I thought it was wise to have them start off at the casino; them not having sex, though, was brilliant. What a powerful love connection these two ladies must feel. It would be nice to see how the entire visit went and why it was so urgent that Maisy get home? Nice wo...

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Susan Catucci
20:56 May 26, 2023

Bless you again, Lily, and your valuable thoughts. It's funny, by the end of the story, I really felt close to Mason, Maisy and Sylvia and felt for the situation they're in. I think I gravitated to it fairly naturally - in court and crime, there are few winners; in love triangles, I haven't a clue if anyone comes out unscathed, tho I doubt it. It's a real challenge delving into this sort of I-couldn't- help-it tangled web. Ah well, could be why I enjoy it so much, too. Thanks again, Lily, as always, love hearing from you. :)

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Lily Finch
23:33 May 26, 2023

Why don't you write two versions of the next phase of the journey and see which one your readers respond to best? I like the angle of the sister involved (sister-in-law romance) in a triangle. You know, like Mason is in the dark and aloof to what is happening with all these NYC trips. LOL LF6

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Susan Catucci
00:56 May 27, 2023

Only time will tell, Lily.

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Delbert Griffith
11:59 May 26, 2023

Oh yeah. Oh hell yeah. The twist in the relationship)s) and the song lyrics that won't go away are terrific devices, and you employed them well. Everything worked. The lyrics you chose were terrific, and I'm pleased that I recognized most of them. Not all, though, and that's as it should be. The reader needs to feel like they want to know more about the lyrics. What I liked most was the bombshell that Maisy, despite just breaking up with a guy, falls in love (or lust) with a woman that her twin brother loves. Boom! That Syl reciprocates - ...

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Susan Catucci
13:32 May 26, 2023

Well, and you know how I needed a helping hand from Mr. Math/Mr. Music to really send this story home. Music is like auditory emojis or gifs, the old fashioned - not really - way we put special emphasis on the important aspects of our lives. Nothing beats the right song at the right time - except maybe when there's no volume control. The ending was the tricky part because I usually have a neat little wrap-up. This was new for me to leave it open-ended but it really couldn't have been any other way. I really learned a lot writing this, ...

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Mary Bendickson
20:46 May 25, 2023

Pleased me to know I recognized almost all the songs. Sometimes I am afflicted with the same phenomenon.🎶🎶🎶

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