Wednesday, 16 February 2022

#WEP FIRST CHALLENGE FOR 2022 - YEAR OF MUSIC - ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE, the BEATLES.

 Hello there!

Welcome to WEP's Year of Music. First group/song to be featured is the Beatles and their iconic song, All You Need is Love.


For this challenge, I take you on a trip to Liverpool, the home of the Beatles. I've always loved park benches, so I imagined myself sitting on a park bench admiring the Beatles' statue on the waterfront. Park benches are under-rated. They can be great places to sit and dream and watch people living their lives.

Trigger warning: This #flashfiction contains drug taking. Given the subject matter, sorta has to, don't you think?




TAGLINE: There comes a time to stop running and embrace life.

Learning how to be you.

I stumble around the deserted waterfront at Pier Head, numb.

It seems wrong that the sun is shining this morning. This is Liverpool, after all. The sun rarely shines. A bleak day would be more fitting, but today the sun bores into my eyes, casts shadows on the cement. Casts shadows on my soul.

I pause a step. Stand at the edge of the pier where the murky River Mersey slaps waves onto the pylons. The ferries bob, tethered, waiting for a time when they'll run again. 

The sun embraces me. Offers comfort and warmth. I won’t give in to the grief ballooning in my chest. It’s quiet here on the pier. Peaceful. But my legs are shaky. I slow-walk to the bench in front of my favorite four local boys made good.

An hour ago it must have rained, because the bronze statues are slick and shiny. I feel like the Fab Four are out for a casual stroll, walking toward me, hope on their faces. Stillness steals over me, eating away at the paralysing shock of arriving at the hospital this morning to be told the worst news.

A flock of tourists vomits out of a huge bus slathered in peace signs and bright flowers and other sixties’ symbols. I’m about to be engulfed in a tidal wave. A burst of humanity surges toward me – vibrant, alive, optimistic – like the Beatles at the top of their game. I feel like a little fish swimming against the torrent, struggling to stay afloat, gasping for breath.

Lennox is dead.

Why is a busload of tourists belching toward me like a chattering of choughs?

Lennox is dead.

Why aren’t they at home, taking the pandemic seriously. Haven’t enough people died already?

Lennox is dead.

No guesses where these bright birds are heading.

The Beatles statue. 

A landmark. 

My city’s must-see piece of art.

The birds land. I am swamped by humanity. Surrounded. Overwhelmed. Overcome.

Cameras click, flower-holding fans in sixties’ psychedelic coats with peace symbols on the back, jeans, boots, Carnaby Street caps. They pose, arms around the Fab Four, kiss them, pay homage as only died-in-the-wool Beatles’ fans know how. To make it worse, they’re murdering my favorite Beatles’ song, All You Need is Love, making a game of it. Every time someone warbles the chorus, heads pop up from behind the boys, shouting, ‘love!’ ‘Love!’ ‘Love is all you need!’ All you need be damned.

I don’t know how I manage it, but I drift. Sleep. Dream of that dreary hospital room with its dreary view. Where Lennox breathed his last in a room full of impersonal machines, tended by angels in blue head-to-toe PPE gear, shields, goggles, the whole shebang.

The smell wakes me.

Earthy. Herby. Sweet.

I’ve never taken drugs, unlike the Beatles with their field trips to India to sit at the feet of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to study spirituality. In the statue in front of me, George’s belt has been engraved with a mantra revealing his deep interest in Indian spirituality. It was especially important to him, more than the sitar playing he toyed with.



      

I love the sitar in Norwegian Wood. I’ve nothing against Love You To from their 1966 album Revolver. George wrote and sung it and it features Indian instrumentation such as sitar and tabla. A digression from their usual sound. 

 But I digress.

That smell. I recognize marijuana from the hours I spent at Lennox’s bedside in the early stages of the illness before he went to hospital.

My heartbeat speeds up. Someone daring is sitting beside me. The tourists have gone. I squint my eyes. Not a beanie-clad, tousled haired, grubby person, but someone who embodies sophistication and privilege. His hair is blond, brushes his shoulders, unlike the Beatles with their black mop tops. From under his bangs, the pot smoker studies the foursome, a smile quirking his lips.

I sat holding Lennox’s hand while he smoked, but that was different. That was to alleviate the pain, to make the end more bearable. Medicinal cannabis. Which this is not.

I’m rooted to the spot. Wondering what will happen next.

The sunshine, the sweetness, the sexy smile.

He hands me the joint like we’re old friends at a party. He raises his eyebrows, interested, waiting to see what I’ll do.

I’m a stickler for doing the right thing. But what is the right thing here?

I take it.

First time ever I’ve smoked, but I do it for Lennox, somehow brings him closer.

I’m suddenly a woman who tries new things. Who knew that about me? Not me.

Nothing you can do, but you can learn how to be you in time
It's easy…

It hasn’t been easy.

My life has revolved around caring for my brother, Lennox, and before him, my elderly parents who succumbed in the first wave of the virus.

No one you can save that can't be saved

I hate that.

The smoke passes down my throat. Wraps around my lungs. Chokes me.

The tension pours from my pores.

He smiles but I see the sadness in his eyes. ‘I’m sorry, Karla. I’m here for you. Always.’

I take another drag. The air is warm, cloying. The sun seems brighter. Brilliant.

He stretches out his hand. I take it. He pulls me to my feet. Wraps his arm around my shoulders.

I’ve been running away from things all my life.

Now I’m running forward. With the love of my life, Johan.

Lyrics pound through my head:

There's nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be
It's easy.

Will it be easy this time?

 ~*~

 I hope you enjoyed sitting on a park bench with me.

WORDS: 940

FCA

If you're into music, even if you're not, in April please join the writers at WEP who love using their imagination to respond to a prompt. We love newbies! And we love those blasts from the past who once wrote for us. Doesn't this image conjure up all sorts of story ideas?






53 comments:

Pat Garcia said...

Hi,
Lennox is dead. The repetition stands out as everything in life points to it being a normal day with the only different being that the sun is shining in Liverpool. You've done a nice play and reveal with the death of a friend and the fact that life goes on.
Very well done.
Shalom aleichem

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great story. There were twists I didn't see coming. Loved the sweet, hopeful ending to your story.

Jemi Fraser said...

Beautiful. Poignant and timely.
Thanks for taking us along with you to that park bench.

cleemckenzie said...

A poignant story of grief and coming to terms. I loved your choice of the setting. It was perfect.

N. R. Williams said...

Such a bittersweet story. I'm glad she has someone to help her through this time.
Nancy

Olga Godim said...

It feels almost like a poem with its rhythm. A rebirth for the heroine after the unbearable sadness. Great story.

Elephant's Child said...

Overwhelming, desperately sad - with tinges of hope. Hope is a fragile essential and I am so glad your protagonist found courage and hope in the same package...

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Very sad. Sad for those who passed. Fortunately it is ending and life does go on.

L.G. Keltner said...

You did a wonderful job of weaving the song lyrics into the story. Your words portrayed the intense grief she was feeling so well. It's truly awful to lose someone that way, but you have to find hope where and when you can.

Shannon Lawrence said...

Lovely and loving. Your scenery was deftly vivid.

Nilanjana Bose said...

Lovely and poignant. Love the hopeful ending amidst this devastation of loss and grief. It's never as easy as it's made out to be, but I hope our heroine finds the HEA she deserves after so much heartbreak.

Great hanging out with you on that park bench! :)

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Pat. It was fun to write something set in Liverpool.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Natalie. Glad you didn't see the twists. Sneaky of me.

Denise Covey said...

I'm glad you enjoyed sitting with me.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Lee. I enjoyed my trip to Liverpool. Never been.

Debbie D. said...

Interesting character study of a woman who has spent most of her life caring for others. You've captured her grief so well. How dare the world carry on when someone you love has died? I know this feeling! Clever use of the song lyrics, and I love the hopeful ending. Lennox (Lennon?) and Johan (John? ) - coincidence? I'm guessing not. ☺

Kalpana said...

Denise - what a weaver of words you are. And the story is so unusual, I couldn't guess where you were taking it. A great entry.

Denise Covey said...

Love 'weaver of words'. High praise from a great 'weaver of words.'

Denise Covey said...

Thanks clever Debbie. John Lennon for sure.

Denise Covey said...

I'm sure she'll find that HEA Nila.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Shannon.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Laura. The song lyrics are what informed my story. Such fun even though grief involved.

Denise Covey said...

So am I Sue, for sure.

Denise Covey said...

You made my day with the rhythm comment Olga.

Jemima Pett said...

Woven, yes. Beautifully woven together by a certain type of Beatle fan who realises that others are not the same. One of your best, I think. :)

Michelle Wallace said...

This was wonderful!
I was next to you on that park bench, sucked into the scene via the rhythm of your words which are enhanced by bursts of staccato-styled writing... and it kept me wondering... unsure of the direction in which you were taking the piece. Really effective.

Pennie Nichols said...

Beautiful imagery and reflection.

Denise Covey said...

Yes, Nancy, me too.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Jemima. Glad you liked it.

Denise Covey said...

Glad to sit on the park bench with you any day, Michelle!

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Pennie.

Bernadette said...

Loved the way you described the scene (somehow even I felt angry at the tourists). The ending was sweet.

Sally said...

A story full of emotion with an uplifting ending.

Anstice Brown said...

Wonderful. You did a great job of capturing that feeling of grief when the world keeps going on around you but you're still in this strange bubble, trying to process why this person has gone and what your life will be like without them. You cleverly incorporated the lyrics of the song and the result was very moving.

A Hundred Quills said...

Wonderfully narrated Denise. There's so much about story telling I'm taking from here besides the deeply poignant writing. Only recently I had visited the place where the Beatles had stayed during their India visit to the Maharishi.
-Sonia

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Denise - loved you set your piece in Liverpool - I've never been either ... but I could feel the crowd of charabanc passengers cooing and just enjoying themselves as Beatles fans - which is really frustrating when you're on the journey with someone who is dying - just very glad my experience wasn't in the era of PPE et al.

So pleased Johan came along and Karli was able to feel some relief ... as she adjusted to her memories ... now she can live for herself with her love and a new future. Delightful writing - cheers Hilary

Jamie said...

I didn't know they were so associated with drugs. The Grateful Dead, sure. But the Beatles? Guess I learned something new today.

Good work with the prompt. Lots of fandom in there.

Shilpa Gupte said...

That was touching, but the end was full of hope. I pray she doesn't have to run away from life now.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Shilpa. So do I.

Kelly Steel said...

Good work. Well written from the prompt.

Denise Covey said...

Oh yeah, they worked hard for their squeaky clean image, but drugs were very important to them.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Kelly.

Denise Covey said...

Yes Hilary a bit like that feeling of how dare life go on when you've just lost someone.

Denise Covey said...

I'm so glad Sonia. How exciting to have visited where the Beatles stayed during their India visit!

Denise Covey said...

Glad I brought out the emotion in you Bernadette.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Sally.

Damyanti Biswas said...

Denise, this is poignant, precise, and powerful, like all your work. It will stay with me for a while.

Thank you for creating this event, and sorry about the late comment. I keep trying to post comments, but they disappear. hope this one will save.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Anstice.

Denise Covey said...

Thank you Damyanti. I'm sorry you're having trouble commenting. Unfortunately, this happens between blogger and WP. Glad you persisted.

Lenny Lee said...

Hi Miss Denise,

Loss isn't easy and neither is grief. Love and hope helps. You've woven all of these things into your story and left me with a feeling of hope.

Thanks for such a meaningful story.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks very much Lenny. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

J Lenni Dorner said...

Strong fandom in this one! Very cool.
Hope you're having a great day! My latest blog post has my theme for the April #AtoZChallenge (I'm writing speculative fiction and looking for prompts).
At Operation Awesome we have the #PassOrPages query contest going on (friends or enemies to lovers Romance).
Looks like I'll be very busy the next few weeks!
March quote: "Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do." - Mark Twain

Yolanda Renée said...

Expertly written, you never, ever cease to amaze me!