Musical Musings is a monthly feature wherein we all use the same song as inspiration for flash fiction...or to pop into a WIP. As you do. Also, ahoy! Potty mouth ahead. If you have delicate sensibilities, you may want to skip this one.
Fuck this shit. Fuck all this shit. Leo knew better than to schedule a call with her and not be available. It wasn’t like him, and there was no way she was going to put up with it. I don’t need a man in my life. There’ll be plenty of time for that once I am actually living in an area, working toward my goals. And she wouldn’t have to put up with this long-distance relationship bullshit anymore.
Pulling up her Pissed Off playlist on Pandora, Mia turned up the external speakers she had connected to her laptop and streamed the driving beats of artists such as Evanescence, Linkin Park, Flyleaf, Avril Lavigne, and Halestorm. She sat on the couch with a stack of papers in her lap and tried to be objective while marking them, but feared she was hate-grading. Then, Bush’s “Glycerine” started.
Fuck. Silent tears rolled down her cheeks. What if Leo had found someone else? What would she really do? She set the essays on the couch next to her–no interest in explaining to her students that the smudged ink all over their papers are her tears of rejection–and let herself just feel. The song was a dichotomy–a warning and a breakup song all tied into one. All about how the person knows they fucked up, but it’s a two-way street. It takes two to tango and all that shit.
Which made her think. I’m at least partially to blame, here. She’d never told him how important their time together was. She’d never admitted he meant more to her as time went on. She always thought she’d be able to tell him when he came to town next. That was on her. She also wasn’t really sure she’d ever told Leo how much their scheduled FaceTime dates meant to her. If she ever had the opportunity, she’d be sure he knew. All of it–not just the whole scheduling and responsibility part. Oh, but she’d have to tread carefully or she might let the L-word slip.
“Would it be so bad if he knew? Even if he doesn’t say it back?” she mused aloud. It’d be mortifying if there was an awkward silence. She could almost picture him fidgeting with the end of his canvas belt. She’d stammer out something to avoid the reality of the words–and the situation. Then, the time between their calls would get longer and longer, until, finally, they stopped altogether.
Worst-case scenario. It’s part of Pessimist 101 instruction. And she had that shit on-lock–especially when it came to relationships. She could be Little Miss Susie Sunshine most of the time, and when it came to something personal, all the courage she’d screwed up flew away on wings of iron. Immediately sending her into a downward spiral from which she’d never recover. Sure, she could put on the fake happy face–like the best of them–but it didn’t matter. Inside, her heart would be breaking.
Twenty minutes late, and not even a response to the text message she sent.
Moving the essays to the coffee table, she stretched out on the couch, burying her nose in the pillow he’d used, and cried herself to sleep.
When she woke three hours later, she had a text.
Sorry, baby. Lost track of time. Rain check? Can we reschedule? I miss you.
He had all the right words, but it was over three hours too late. She’d already started to lose the will to work for their relationship. They had discussed how it’d be difficult cultivating and maintaining a relationship long distance, but they’d both committed to trying. Seems I kept my end of the bargain. Leo, on the other hand, needs a lesson in honesty. Fuck the text message. He had lots of time to come up with that response. She wasn’t buying it.
The papers taunted her from the table. Not. In. The. Fucking. Mood. Even though she knew she would have a horrible workload next week–another class had a paper due–she pushed back the grading for another day. Hopefully, she’d be able to keep her shit together.
It was dark outside, and she had the night off. Food, then grading. Pulling herself from the couch, she meandered into the kitchen, started a pot of coffee, and made herself an omelet. The routine activity allowed Mia’s brain to drift back to Leo. What if he’s toying with my heart? What if Tony isn’t really the player of the group and it’s Leo? Gods, she hoped Geno would’ve warned her. And she’d been careful before she allowed herself to become invested in the relationship.
She’d exercised her GoogleFu and while she had search results indicating Geno had been out with Bethany–his girlfriend–and Tony had been spotted with numerous women–Leo had only been mentioned in conjunction with Flash’s accomplishments and accolades.
It’s a fucking conspiracy. The media is out to promote his wholesome image because they need him to be the good boy of the group. She wouldn’t put it past Mike Ranger, their skeezy manager. Keeping Leo out of the limelight had its benefits for the band. He’d been touted as the musical genius bringing a completely new sound to the face of modern music. Leo’s Wikipedia page had said he, “…blended the beautiful harmonies and full chord structures with the hard drive of classic rock.” And his lyrics were brilliant. “Emotionally-charged with a way for every red-blooded person to connect.”
Geno and Tony sheltered Leo. And Mike wanted to paint him as the golden child. They’d even gone public about his age–which pissed off a lot of the bar owners in Pennsylvania, but they didn’t say too much. Local media played it off as an, “Oh, you got us!” Slap on the back, good ol’ boy club bullshit. Had it been a woman, there would’ve been a media frenzy, and she’d have been the slut of the town–whether she performed sexual acts or not.
Sliding the perfectly cooked omelet–filled with mushrooms and gouda cheese–onto a plate, she poured herself a steaming mug of coffee, slid open her silverware drawer and withdrew a fork, then headed back for the couch. Blanket fort would be epic right about now. Except for the fact she had no one to share it with. All her friends from high school had moved away to attend college–they couldn’t get out of Wilkes-Barre fast enough. A few acquaintances remained, but they were married and busy with young children.
Which set her biological clock to ticking double-time.
Placing her plate and coffee on the short table, Mia settled into the nest of blankets on the sofa. She opened the Pinterest app on her phone and went to the secret board she squirreled away ideas she wasn’t ready to admit even to herself.
Hand-crocheted, soft-as-a-cloud outfits adorned chubby-cheeked cherubs all over the practically invisible board. Murals splashed across walls behind elaborate cribs. Strollers, car seats, high chairs, play mats, walkers–you name it, Mia had pinned it. She’d even gone as far as pinning dream family vehicles, including a huge SUV that was impractical for parking anywhere besides an open field. I’d have to park so far away from the mall I’d get my steps in for sure! She’d chuckled as she’d pinned that one.
But none of it mattered–she really didn’t have a solid relationship. She couldn’t even allow herself to daydream about someday when the first part of the equation didn’t exist. That hadn’t stopped the dreams, though.
A non-existent toddler with dark hair like hers and brilliant blue eyes with thick lashes like Leo’s took tentative steps across the living room of a house she’d never live in.
Mia cried as her dinner cooled on the coffee table. When her eyeballs felt like sandpaper and she was so congested she could barely breathe, she hauled herself to her feet, took the remains of what had promised to be a great dinner, and disposed of them in the kitchen. I’m not hungry, anyway.
Gathering the TV remote and a box of tissues, she settled back on the couch and started browsing movies on Netflix. Some time later, as she still surfed the selection, her phone chimed.
This bar is such a dive. Girls are whoring themselves out to Tony by the truckloads. Disgusting.
She stared at the text on the screen.
Hope you’re okay. Have a lot to share with you when we can connect.
Should she respond? What if she didn’t? Would he keep trying? Fuck, she didn’t know. But what prompted her to tap out words on her screen was a nagging feeling in her gut that if she didn’t try, she’d always have a What if… staring back at her.
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