rachelleneveu: (like magic)
[personal profile] rachelleneveu
Happy Yom Kippur, old chaps.

Title: put your records on
Summary: “She makes it only a few minutes past midnight before she starts making up excuses to leave.”
Word Count: 933
Warning(s): None
A/N: For my a prompt in my Creative Writing class, “When she realized what had happened, it was already too late.”

Rosie didn’t really want to go out to Goodbar, but went anyway for Molly’s bachelorette party because as a bridesmaid, it felt like the right thing to do. She makes it only a few minutes past midnight before she starts making up excuses to leave: early workday, feeling ill, ran into that guy who used to follow her to the parking lot at her old job, and by the time she makes it to Molly, she’s ready to just give up and bolt. Molly, bride-to-be and unofficial Queen of the Drunk Text, stuck halfway between “slightly inebriated” and “completely plastered,” puts up surprisingly little fight when Rosie tries to hug her goodbye. She pouts and sighs and succeeds in only sliding out of the high-backed barstool she’d been holding court from and landing in a puddle of limbs and shoes at Rosie’s feet, her iPhone still clutched protectively in one well-manicured hand. She throws her arms completely around her neck as Rosie helps her up, kissing her sloppily on the cheek, and when Rosie tries to extricate herself from Molly’s grip she feels her own phone buzzing in her pocket; distantly, she realizes that Molly is live-tweeting her own fall. Presently, Rosie is mostly happy at her decision to leave the bar crawl early.

It’s a short walk to where she parked from the bar, passing under the orange glow of the streetlights to the half-lot near the gas station. When she unlocks the car from the curb the headlights flash twice, like it’s welcoming her back, and Rosie smiles to herself. Her car is a safe little Subaru, a recent upgrade from the hand-me-down Volvo her brother gave her when he went to NYU for his Master’s. She’s named it Ted, after her favorite Roosevelt, and feels solid in this statement; this is the first car that has no history but hers, no accident record, no trips on it yet but the ones she’ll make. The streets are weirdly empty tonight – strange on Elmwood, especially for a Friday night – and she’s halfway toward the intersection at Sheridan when the song comes on the radio, pulling up to an empty intersection right as it really starts: There’s a port on a western bay, and it serves a hundred ships a day – lonely sailors pass the time away, and talk about their homes…

It’s the stupidest thing to ever make her heart stop, but Rosie can’t help it; she’s frozen at the stoplight, hands curled tight at the wheel, and as Looking Glass rounds through the first verse she feels like all the oxygen has been ripped right out of her lungs. It’s been six months and she thought all the rawness had subsided; she’s put in her graduation paperwork and found a new roommate, she finally threw out all the clothes he’d forgotten to take with him. She went on a date with a friend of Molly’s fiancé last week and hasn’t thought about Sean in days, and right now it is hitting her all at once, like she’s been caught in an undertow: suffocating, overpowering, her lungs filling up with sentimentality like saltwater.

Their song was a stupid one-hit wonder about a woman loving a man who couldn’t love her back, and she wants to hit herself in the face, almost, at the belated realization of what that means. It followed them around, playing in this restaurant and that Starbucks and the dumb corner bar by his apartment until it became a running joke between them: Sean messing up the lame, catchy chorus on purpose, changing the words the sea to a horse and your mom and Bruce Lee, all because it made her laugh. They were good for each other, everyone said so: he was funny and polite and her parents loved him, Molly had a running bet on when he’d pop the question. He used to play with her hair while she studied on the living room floor, her back to the leg of the couch he’d stretch out on, and she loved that: loved the simple intimacy of being comfortable with someone, letting her guard down. They were good for each other until he decided that they weren’t, and by the time she realized what had happened it was already too late: there was no escaping all the empty spaces in her life he’d left behind, that phantom-limb feeling of him next to her in bed.

She hates him for ending things, but even more than that she hates still knowing everything about him, hates having to carry all their history inside her while he’s off living well enough without her, without any of it. She used to really like this song, even before Sean made it “theirs,” and she hates that he took even that from her, that he twisted all the little pieces of her life until she couldn’t even hear a song on the radio without it making her think of him.

Rosie takes a deep breath so sharp that it hurts and turns the volume up as loud as it will go, so much so that the car shakes with it, Ted bouncing slightly on his axles at the stoplight. The red lights at the intersection are warm and visible even through the darkness of her closed eyelids, and she’s half-laughing, half-sobbing as she belts out the words, singing loudly, singing with enough force that she’s lightheaded from it, singing out until her throat hurts, singing until she can’t tell anymore if the painful ache in her chest is from sadness or from the song.
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