Category Archives: Miramonte

Ravenlight

(A/N: A middle(?) segment to a new short story? See also: Ravenlight)

The last chord of the song faded into applause, the crowd whooping and cheering. Dan glanced back at the band—they really should have put together a set list, but they’d never made a set list before. Why would they start now? Logan caught his eye with a slight jerk of his head in Esther’s direction. Dan raised his eyebrows, as if to ask, Now? Logan nodded.

Dan turned back to the audience, feeling how the whole room had settled after that last song. Not in a bad way—settling was a good sign. It wasn’t the awkward bustle of boredom; it was the lull of contemplation, the aftermath of a good song. He let his guitar swing loose in front of him and flipped the pick over the fingers of his right hand.

“So,” he began, stepping back up to the microphone, “some of you might not know this, but Esther and I go to boarding school together.” He turned to look at her, his mouth still against the microphone—he wanted to watch her expression. “And something I learned about her, that I did not know before, is that this girl can sing.”

He grinned half at her, half at the audience. Esther looked ready to kill. A wide smile was trapped on her face, but her eyes threw daggers at him.

“So we’re going to get Esther up here to sing a little something for you…”

The audience broke into applause as he stepped back from the microphone. A small pocket in the back corner by the counter started cheering her name, but Esther stood still by the bass amplifier, staring at him and laughing softly in disbelief. He nodded his encouragement to her, even unslinging his guitar and holding out his hand for the bass. She shook her head slightly and mouthed, “I’m going to kill you,” before giving up and handing him the bass guitar.

Dan watched as she stepped up to the microphone. She was being the quiet, indie, a little bit fragile girl in the rock cover band, not the girl she’d become at boarding school. He’d forgotten how vulnerable she could be, how soft and gentle compared to the strong, capable girl she was growing into. So what was this, an act? Or just slipping into habit? He watched her shake back the bracelets on her left wrist and lay her delicate fingers on the microphone for a moment.

“Well,” she said to the settled room. “I’m going to kill Dan later.” Rob and Logan chuckled a bit at that, and she glanced back at them. “I know you guys were behind this too, but Rob, I’m about to get my revenge.” He smiled and shrugged while some people whooped. She turned back to the audience.

“So I know we usually play alternative rock stuff, but I’m going to switch it up a little bit here. Rob’s going to go play keys on this song—” She looked at him pointedly here, waiting as he theatrically shuffled over to the keyboard. “And Rob, I know you know this song because your mom says you sing it in the shower.” The audience laughed. “This is a beautiful song by Sara Bareilles, and I really hope I can do it justice. This is ‘Gravity.’”

Rob started off with the first few notes, and Dan sat back on the amplifier as Esther began to sing. God, he loved the sound of her voice. Even after a year with Ravenlight, she never so much as hummed a backup vocal, so that late night in the Academy’s piano lounge with their friend Meg had been a revelation. The first thing he ever heard her sing was an old Simon and Garfunkel song, her voice strong and perfect as it rose and fell over the notes rising out of the grand piano. He thought of that moment now, remembering the way she smiled while her voice harmonized over Meg’s. He watched her rest her hands on the microphone, eyes closed as she pushed the rise and fall of the chorus. She had a light, effortless control over her voice that Dan had never quite learned, and her voice had just enough quaver to sound a little less than polished, making it sound and feel so real.

He caught Logan watching him stare at Esther, so he looked down at his guitar and dedicated himself to adjusting a knob. Logan knew, he was pretty sure, about him and Esther. Well, maybe he wasn’t that sure, but there was no sense in helping Logan along by staring at her if he only suspected it. He chanced a look back at Logan, and found him raising his eyebrows, impressed, as Esther nailed the bridge—a long, drawn out high note that wandered up higher without a breath. Dan smiled. Yeah, try not staring at that amazing girl.

She sang the last few lines of the song and stepped back from the microphone to tumultuous applause. She was smiling, her shy, hesitant smile that meant she was embarrassed and a little pleased. Dan straightened and met her near center stage, handing the bass to her as he pulled her into a quick hug.

“I’m proud of you,” he said into her ear.

“I’m still going to kill you,” she said softly.

He held her at arm’s length for a moment. “If I kissed you, would that make it better?” he asked, hoping the audience was loud enough that Logan and Rob wouldn’t overhear.

“Right now? I’d beat you to the ground—and you know I can.”

He laughed and wrinkled his nose at her. She wrinkled hers back and retreated to her corner of the stage while Dan took his place again at the microphone.

“Let’s hear it,” he called, and threw in some flourish, “for the lovely Esther Lynde.” The crowd roared back. Dan glanced back at the rest of the band and mouthed, “Ramp up?” They nodded. He turned back to the microphone, riding Logan’s drumbeat into the next song.

The Coriander Bouquet

I don’t fucking know why we called it the Coriander Bouquet, okay? It was Rob’s idea. He has something for coriander — I don’t know, maybe he wants to marry it. He just has a thing for it, and followed by “bouquet” it sounded like a good idea. What? No, we’re not like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, who do you think we are?? Yes, this is a fucking bar, what did you think it was? What? A spice shop? What the hell is wrong with you?! Don’t you use Yelp? No? Who doesn’t use Yelp!? If you used Yelp — yeah there’s an app for that, what is your problem?! Well download that shit. Yeah, it says we’re a BAR. A goddamn bar! What do you mean you wanted to pick up some cayenne pepper? Just stop talking. Right now. Just shut up and have a drink. On the house. Yeah I’m serious, you came here to buy cayenne pepper, and now I’m giving you a beer. Yes, it’s good beer, who do you think we are!? Oh. You’re allergic? Oh, I’m sorry. What about tequila? Yeah? Awesome, here, have a shot of tequila, on the house. There you go. Yeah, down that baby. Okay, now look around. Does this look like a spice shop to you? No. It looks like a bar. Now go flirt with that guy in the corner — yeah the one hiding in the safety of his friends — yeah. No, over to your left. Yeah. No, get over there before I have to give you another shot. No, I’m not going over there with you! What do I look like, a fucking wingman? No! I’m the bartender! You see this thing between me and you? It’s THE BAR. No, it’s not oak. I don’t fucking know what kind of wood it’s made out of. No, I’m not giving you another shot, you keep asking me stupid questions! What? Oh, yeah, Rob’s ex painted the walls. Yeah, she’s pretty good. I don’t fucking know, why don’t you look her up? Right. Her name. I have no idea, just forget about it okay? No, I don’t know if she shows in any of the galleries! Do I look like I have time to go to art galleries?! No, I fucking work here! Well, no, it’s not great for resumes — like how do you explain to a future employer that you work at the Coriander Bouquet. Like what kind of name is that? It sounds like a spice shop, right? Yeah! That’s why you came in here. Look, never mind, there’s a guy over there who’s been waiting for half an hour for his pitcher because you’ve been wasting my time here. Go loosen up, here’s another shot. Go flirt with that guy. Yeah. Forget the cayenne, okay? Just roll with it.

(A/N: WELL WASN’T THAT AN ADVENTURE IN DESCRIPTIVE WRITING?)

Miramonte

(A/N: I’ve been writing a lot of character sketches, so I’ve declared the rest of this week, “Settings Week” as I get back into the swing of my daily 30 minutes of writing.)

On a clear day, you can see the ocean from the Miramonte house. There aren’t very many clear days. Fog is a fact of life here — it seeps under the door and fills your soul with dampness that makes your bones creak like the floorboards. It mildews. It keeps your towels wet even hours after your shower. It presses in on you like some timid, passive annoyance. It permeates. It just is.

The Miramonte house dries out about one week out of the year. That’s the week when it’s so hot that the fog doesn’t even form at night, when you eat popsicles on the sidewalk even as they melt in your hands, when you watch dogs panting desperately on their porches and think hah, suckers. That’s the week when the paint stops peeling and curling, and the walls don’t exhale at night. It’s the one week when your de-humidifier stops sucking at the air and turning it into water.

And you can see the ocean. Not the beach really, unless you’re in the attic room and press your face against the round little window. But it’s there, that expanse of blue-green blue that makes your heart sigh. It reminds you why you’re here, living in this decrepit little house that passes for quaint with too many people crammed in tight in all the little spaces and seams. It makes the endless trek up the hill on the way back from work or class worth the coiled tension in your calves. And as you stare down at the ocean, you start to wonder why you don’t just roll down this hill, tumbling and careening down and down, past the college, past the grocery store, past the kite shop downtown, on and on and all the way until you hit the boardwalk and do a flying flip off the pier and splash into the ocean which swallows you whole and takes you down into the deep with the otters where you’ll never have to worry about mildewy fog again.

Characters & actions

During workshop for the short story I wrote for English190, one of my classmates commented that JT and Charlotte obviously hooked up at the end of the second-to-last scene. “‘He wrapped her in a big hug and wouldn’t let go’? How did they not hook up?!”

I debated changing that line as I revised the story, but (as you can see from the version I posted on here) I ended up leaving it in. To some degree, it doesn’t matter what exactly happened after the scene break. The story works either way, and to clarify would be clunky. I like leaving that detail up to the reader’s imagination, to imply the relationship that is never spelled out explicitly on the page. Besides, the way I envisioned the story only makes sense in the context of my own experiences. JT Finnegan, in terms of the kind of person he is, the things that drive his actions and words — all that only makes sense given the people I know. And Charlotte doesn’t know what to make of him. She never really makes harsh judgments of him or questions his motives because she (like me, in her situation) doesn’t know what to think or how to react, and in fact isn’t even sure of how JT’s outlook and approach towards life differs from her own and that of her friends.

JT doesn’t have to be despicable, but he doesn’t have to be completely innocent either. I tried to make him a true-to-life character, and as such he is full of ambiguities and inconsistencies. So read that line however you like, and I won’t spoil your view of it by telling you exactly how I envisioned it.

Alexithymia

(A/N: Short story written for English190. The title means, “without words for emotions” in ancient Greek, but this story is also tentatively titled, “From Things Misplaced” which I already used for a poem here… in other words, this story needs a title. The story idea started here, and uses the scene and characters who sprung up here.)

Charlotte’s day began with a loud crash in the kitchen at seven-thirty in the morning. Under normal circumstances, the only people up at this hour were Charlotte and the house pets, and occasionally Delgado on one of his less fortunate nights. But this morning, even the far corner rooms heard the sound of shattering glass, Charlotte’s muffled yelp, and the ringing of a stainless steel pan bouncing across the tile floor.

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