Claire turned down the stereo in her sweet little shiny metallic-green Carman Ghia convertible her grandmother left her in her will. As she pulled into the parking lot, she kept belting out her unsolicited accompaniment to Adam Levine’s blessed falsetto in his song “Just a Feeling.”
You left your flowers in the back seat of my car / The things we said and did have left permanent scars / Obsessed, depressed at the same time / I can’t even walk in a straight line / I’ve been lying in the dark / No sunshine, no sunshine, no sunshine…
She parked the car, rolled up her window, gathered her things, and hummed to herself the rest of the stanza. As she opened her car door, her beautiful and athletic left leg which tapered into a classic bone pump was the first thing to exit the car after her humming. She unfolded from the driver’s seat, reached back in for her things, and as she stood up beneath the cement buttress in the cold and antiseptic parking garage, her hair cascaded over her shoulder. she flipped it back, only to be socked in the hip by the chocolate brown leather messenger bag her mother bought her as a gift for her college graduation. Instead of moaning, she continued her serenade,
You’re not even thereeeeeeee….. Just a feeling … Just a feeling … / No I can’t belieeeeeeve that it’sss ovvvverrrrrr…
[go here for the first part of this story: https://mollyfielddotcom.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/friday-fiction-friends-2-0-familiarity-breeds-fonder-over-greener-ponds/ ]
Her voice echoed through the garage, giving vibrancy and life to an otherwise dank and dreary place. Her voice was powerful and gorgeous. She sang for no one but herself and her shower. Sometimes her neighbors would hear her belt out a tune now and then, she liked to pretend she was Bobby Darren singing “Mack the Knife,” into a feather duster. Sometimes she sang when she vacuumed her apartment and could often be spied upon having spontaneous dance parties by herself in her boxer shorts and JAWS t-shirt as she would muscle through a day of housekeeping and bathroom cleaning, her wavy brown hair in a ponytail or hidden under a bandana scarf.
What she was unaware, as usual, was her effect on people. She thought she was bad inside, she thought people saw through her, she thought people thought she was fake; that it was all a ruse: her cheerfulness and her altruism and team spirit. The truth to her, deep inside her though, was that she sang and danced and played to feel alive inside when most of the time she felt like she was an empty shell.
Luther parked farther back in the garage, as he usually did because he felt it was important to give the female employees (mostly Claire) the spots closer to the lights and the elevator for their personal safety although no one knew it. They just thought he liked to park his shiny Mustang far away because he acted like a snob and a jerk.
When he walked toward the building, he could still hear Claire’s voice bouncing off the pilings and gray walls long after she had stopped singing. He knew the song himself and silently played it in his head, gently swaying his head in time with the melody.
The soles of her pumps shuffled along the gritty substrate and her heels click, click, clicked to the elevator, picking up their pace as she heard the bell ding-ding, going down… hurry!
“Hold the car!” Luther shouted, “Claire! Hold the car, please, my legs are killing me.”
“Ok, only for you Luther, and only because you’re supposedly injured,” she said.
Pressing the doors open button blanched her thumb, it was practically bent into a U from the pressure. As he ambled into the car, he looked at the button and her thumb, and thanked Claire.
“You can let go now, Claire, your thumb is begging for some blood, thanks again,” he said.
“You’re welcome. What’s wrong with your legs? Did you do too many squats, too many thrusters? Did you lift too many gorillas at the gym last night?” she said indicating toward his legs with her free hand, which was not free at all, it was holding her water bottle, a purple rubber-covered glass bottle she bought at her yoga studio a couple months before. The doors closed smoothly and silently and the elevator began its ascent.
>Ding< “First floor,” the elevator announced.
“Uh, no. I … uh, I have a … yeah, you’re right, I lifted too many gorillas at the gym last night. It wasn’t so much them, it was the squat thrusts I had to do at the rail yard against those coal cars,” he said, trying to lighten the mood.
“Well, if you jocks would just admit that the football game ended fifty-thousand years ago, your legs might be nicer to you, if you’re nicer to them,” she said, softening her tone, her eyes glancing at the ceiling in the moment of awkwardness.
>Ding ding< “Second floor.”
“That’s quite a water bottle,” Luther said.
>Ding ding ding< “Third floor.”
“Water? This? No. It’s vodka. Shh. Don’t tell anyone. It’s how I get through the day here…”
>Ding ding ding ding< “Fourth floor.”
“This is us,” she said and held the door open for him to leave first.
“After you, really, I’m gonna be a while,” he said.
“Well, it’s ok, I’ve got my water, wink… I will wait for you; look, if you’re sore from working out, I get that, take your time. Yoga was tough the other night, I’m still feeling it in my arms. We’ve still got a couple minutes before the new Greetings with Flowers Just Because meeting kicks off,” she said, her hand covering the door’s bumper to keep it from closing on Luther. “Giddy up, I’ll hold it, really.”
Luther looked at her and smiled a bit, but it was more of a grimace from the effort of moving his body.
Claire, forgetting herself, started singing the song again
I can’t believe that it’s ooooverrrr
And then, terribly self-conscious, she stopped herself almost as soon as she had started.
“Um, sorry,” she said, clearing her throat. “It’s a habit I have, a bad one… I sing when I’m … uh, I don’t know, I just sing.”
Luther looked at her and smiled wide, his teeth showing this time and he nodded, “I know. It’s ok. I have heard … It’s totally ok,” he said as he cleared the threshold of the elevator, the brown carpeting and tan walls, IKEA-inspired artwork and other knick-knacks instantly muted their voices and muffled their sounds and the elevator’s ding! them as they entered the lobby of Hansen’s Greetings, still America’s second-largest greeting card company.
Claire stepped out of the elevator, her heel clicked its last unless she dared leave the office, or used the bathroom or the kitchen during the day.
“See you later, Luther. Five minutes to the meeting,” she said. “G’morning Elise, how are you today?” she said to the receptionist, a new girl they’d hired last week.
“I’m good, thanks!” Elise said in a mousy voice. “You?”
“Me? I’m … I’m good. I’m good so far, thanks,” Claire said, looking after Luther, watching him walk tenderly and slowly. She physically restrained herself from moving to help him with his walk. “Poor jock, some people don’t know when they’ve hit their limit… even Superman has his kryptonite, Luther!” she said to him.
Luther turned back and smiled at her, wincing again, “Yeah, I know. I think I’ll lift only chimps next time… ha…” he said and turned back toward his cube.
It’s the way she seems to stare right through my eyes / And in my darkest day when she refused to run away / From love she tried so hard to save
But it wasn’t Claire singing; it was a beautiful falsetto passing the copier machine just past Elise’s desk.
© 2013 Molly Field :: All Rights Reserved.
Ok… here’s the song:
Here is the next installment: https://mollyfielddotcom.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/friday-fiction-2-1-your-mother-will-see-you-now/
This was fun. I am listening to some music at the moment; can you guess which song? I think we’re gonna see some amazing things happen between Claire and Luther… or are we? And if you’re paying attention, yes, Elise is back. I believe I’m attempting the impossible: making sense of the last three entries for this 2.0 round of fiction.
Many thanks to Sandra over at Bulamamani for today’s prompt:
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;”
Inspired by this excerpt from Galway Kinnell’s poem “San Francis and the sow”, you will describe a situation where your character is remembered of her/his own beauty/talent/gift. Let your imagination and words flow this is your blossoming time too dear co-writers!
Go check out the great stuff coming from today’s other participants (as soon as I get their URLs I will list them)!