Here’s an excerpt from my work-in-progress.
Cecilia has inherited the family business which happens to be a band. They focus on doing events–weddings, parties and such. They also perform weekly at her brother’s bar.
Miles is their newest member and her brother’s best friend and her long time nemesis. This is Miles’ first performance with the band (an anti-love Valentine event.)
When Miles suggested Brett Young’s “Mercy”, I thought it was an odd genre for him. I’ve known him to listen to Hip-Hop or rap or Post Rock. I don’t usually listen to contemporary country myself but hearing him sing this song now… It’s heartbreaking. Too beautiful to look away from. His voice changes it to an R&B sound but it’s just as mournful as the original.
Every person in the bar is holding their breath.
Only Tori’s piano accompanies our voices. The guitars are on stands at the back of the stage. Spencer and Raul started their break early, we’ll join them when we finish this song. It’s just Miles and me and Tori—who is playing like the notes are being pulled from her. Grief heavy in her gliding fingers.
I can’t take my eyes off of him. Did he listen to this song when Jasmine ended their relationship? Play it on a loop? The way some songs make it hurt worse and feel better at the same time.
He turns sad soulful eyes to me as I join him in the chorus. It shouldn’t take me by surprise after all the eye contact from Tuesday night. The two of us alone pretending to share more than our voices but it does. We have gone so long acting like the other person didn’t exist while in the same room, I’ve become sensitive to the sight of him. His eyes take me back to when I coveted his attention. When I’d take any interaction with him and store it like sustenance until the next chance meeting. The next time he and I would occupy place because Dan or my parents invited Miles. When I daydreamed about his smile lines and thought about him at night, discovering my body—wishing it was his hands and not mine. When my journals were filled with lyrics of longing and lust and hearts opening to love. Before…
I let the pain of that long ago wound to the surface. It’s not used to the light of day. It’s used to the shadows and deep hidden places of my soul. Where I shoved it. Where it fed on me.
I let him see it now.
Can he see it?
I hope he can. It’d be lighter to share the load. A weight I’m so used to carrying, I don’t remember what it’s like without it. And he’s one of the three people who knows. My stomach turns. My mouth starts to water, remembering—though that’s not the right word because I never actually forgot—why he or me… Why everything is sour.
Tears cling to my eyelashes as he sings the last note. At least to the on-lookers it just looks like I’m affected by the song.
Get it together, woman. You’re at work.
Tori plays her last chord.
My smile to the rapt audience is forced, but they’d never know it. I wait for their applause to die down before saying, “Well… we promise to bring you all back up after the break. You’re gonna love the second half! So much dancing!”