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#ShortFictionSunday : “To Take a Chance”

To Take a Chance

Have you ever wondered why we listen to music?  Where did it come from anyway?  What’s so great about it?  Is it the predictable rhythmic pattern that fuels our heartbeats to the pulse of greatness?  Could it be the lyrics — yes the good lyrics that steal the speeches from your mind that you could never voice without falling apart?  We all know, music is all that and more; after all, that’s why we can’t unplug from our iPods for ten minutes to pay attention to what’s happening all around us.

For instance, when you’re sitting in Starbucks trying to write a song, and you cannot seem to rhyme anything with the word ‘revolution,’ it becomes quite obvious that there are other things on your mind.  Perhaps it was the intense smell of boiling cappuccinos, or the panic evoked by the frantic search for “Roger” who had the skim Caramel Macchiato.  Like a slap in the face, the shot of cold air hit me in the face every time the door opened.  I definitely began to think something else was on mind.  I took a sip of my coffee and looked back at my masterpiece.  What was this feeling?  Exaggeration?  Of course it was.  I knew there was no way any producer in his right mind would buy my song.  There were so many things about it that I didn’t like: the simple ascending/descending melodic line, the rhyming of one syllable words over and over again, and my many complex metaphors.

I shook my head, I said I was going to do this, and I wasn’t about to back out now.  I erased my last line and swatted away the eraser shavings.  The guy from across the room looked up at me and smiled, rolling a pair of drumsticks around in one hand.  He had dark curly hair, and I kind smile.

“Sorry,” I said

“Why?  It’s not a library.”

I laughed.  “Yes, but I’m obviously putting a dent in your caffeine-absorption-aura; thus, excuse my eraser.”

“Well, for one thing the caffeine-aura is not currently functioning,” he said, pointing to the box on the side of his cup marked “decaf.”  “And you’re not bothering me.  What are you writing?”

“My opinion.”  I said

“Who are you kidding?” he laughed.  “You’re writing a song.”

“What makes you think that?”  I asked.

“You’ve been tapping your fingers and humming to yourself since you got here.”

I chewed on my tongue, had I really been humming?  Had he been watching me this whole time?  “Are you writing a feature on me or something?”

“No, I wouldn’t do that. I don’t even know your name.”

I looked down at my song again.  I wasn’t sure if he was kidding or not, completely unreadable.

“My name’s Roger by the way.”  he said

“Cassie.”  I said.  Slowly the flashing lights in my head died down, perhaps Roger wasn’t a stalker.

Maybe he was just a good liar?

“You go to school around here?”  he asked

“Yeah, Malone, just up the road.  What about you?”

“Yeah, me too.  What year are you?”

“Sophomore. You?”

“Junior. Transfer.”

“Transfer? From where?”

“Julliard.”

I closed my eyes to keep them from rolling out of my head.  “Julliard — music school Julliard? — New York Julliard?”

“That’s the one.”

“Why did you transfer?”

“I thought I heard the call to go to Julliard — I had the scholarship and everything.  I’m just not cut out for that.”

“Excuse my blunt opinion, but obviously you are cut out for that if you were accepted and with a scholarship no less.”

He laughed, “You’re very opinionated aren’t you Cassie?”

“Sorry, sometimes I think my thoughts are better kept in my head.”

“No, someone like you is hard to find.  There comes a time in your life when you need to be humbled.”

“I’m not sure I follow,”

He looked out the window at the world and paused.  “There comes a time in your life when you realize you can have everything you have every wanted, and have nothing that makes you happy.”

I paused, trying to breakdown the message.  “Wow, you must be a poet or something like that.”

“Lyricist actually.”

“You’re kidding.”

“Nope.”

“What are you doing in a Starbucks here in ‘no-man’s-land’ then?”

“I’m humbling myself.”

Still very confused, I couldn’t help but ask: “Were you any good?”

“Yeah, I was pretty good.  Still pretty good.”

“What did you write?”

He put his drumsticks down on the coffee table that divided us.  “I co-wrote with a handful of independent artists for a label in Nashville.  I spent last summer there.  Beautiful place.”  He looked up at me from the drumsticks on the table.  “So, are you going to let me have a look?”

“At what?  My song?” I sat back in the chair, surprised.

“No, I was kind of hoping to see your bottle cap collection.”  He laughed.  “Yes, your song.”

I held the notebook in my hands, fingers shaking at the thought of showing a stranger a piece of my soul.

“Better for me to tear it apart than those producers you want to send it to.”

I turned away from him.  “How is that?”

He raised a dark eyebrow.  “You can hit me.”

I pursed my lips, trying not to laugh.  “Right, and you won’t press charges?”

“Nah, sometimes we all need a good swat.”

I laughed, turning to face him again.  Maybe he wasn’t a liar.  Maybe he was just another guy.  Maybe he was just another guy, sitting in a coffee shop, processing metaphors.  Just like me.

“You never know.”  I said, looking down at my song, written in pink gel pen with doodles along the side margins.  “Fine, go ahead.  Laugh at my doodles.  Pick apart my word placement.”  I reluctantly handed him my notebook.

He flashed that smile again, taking my notebook from me across the coffee table.  “You’re right, you never know.  Sometimes you just have to take a chance.”

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