Earlier this week, I sent up the proverbial Bat-signal for suggestions of song titles, promising to use them as the titles for new flash fiction (very short stories, only a few hundred words in length) and post the results here. Part exercise in new artistic directions, part homage to Mr. Tambourine Man, mostly an effort to fill this space with things worth reading. The quest for such titles goes on, and there are more coming for the remainder of the month and perhaps beyond. If you have a suggestions, share it on Twitter @gregsimonmusic, or email me using the Contact page. Without further ado, here’s the first volume of song title flash fiction, with due credit to their respective sources. If you’re curious to hear the songs behind the titles, just click the artist names.
by Alice in Chains – suggested by Garrett Shatzer
Emily’s hand shook, and her breathing quickened – but she found herself reaching for the door anyway. It happened almost instantly. The second her fingers felt the cold, smooth knob, she had taken a different route to get here. Her whole hand closed around the knob, and she hadn’t gotten married. As she turned the knob and moved the latch, she’d traveled to Europe after school, learned Japanese, and written a novel. She pushed the door open slowly, having never met her husband. It creaked as she found she had chosen to leave her first boyfriend after he’d hit her the first time. Emily stepped through the door, having chosen never to go to college. As her body crossed the threshold, she’d read a thousand books, worked odd jobs and known life in a million small towns across the globe. She heard the door creak closed behind her, and as the latch resealed a strange feeling washed over her: a feeling of vertigo, of limitless freedom in a cocktail with frigid loneliness.
Emily turned and noticed there was a plain wooden door behind her. She wondered where it would lead.
Baby Blue Roses
by Greg Bartholomew – suggested by Greg Bartholomew
We regret to inform you that your petition to name your garden a city landmark has been denied.
A number of factors contributed to our committee’s decision. Chiefly, the committee feels that your garden is not sufficiently unique to merit special consideration.
We were impressed with the seemingly supernatural array of colors in your flowering plants. One committee member remarked that the orange-and-teal gradient to be found in your carnations was palliative to her arthritis, while another claimed that the orchid bed which continuously changes color restored sight in his right eye, afflicted with cataracts for many years.
However, we found that these exquisite displays do not themselves merit landmark status, given the sheer number of supernatural gardens within walking distance of yours. You will recall that Miss Bagley’s garden includes a bed of snapdragons which display messages to their viewers from deceased loved ones, and a tulip wing which informs visitors of the exact day and hour of their death. This is but one of a hundred stunning gardens which have themselves been denied special status.
We thank you for your understanding and encourage you to apply again at such time that your garden improvements merit reevaluation. The committee wishes you the best of luck in your future endeavors.
All the Things you Could Be By Now if Sigmund Freud’s Wife Was Your Mother
by Charles Mingus – suggested by Robert Pore
“So anyway, my brother-in-law’s in town for a gig – he’s a jazz guitarist or something. I was never that good at music. I mean, I played a little clarinet when I was a kid, but anyway, he starts talking about the set he’s gonna play and mentions that jazz musicians play these things called… contrafacts? counterfacts? I don’t remember, it was one or the other but the point is that what they do is they take a song that someone else wrote, then play all the chords that go with that song but with a new melody. It’s like you’re playing Happy Birthday, and it’s got all the harmonic things that Happy Birthday should, but you’re playing a song that doesn’t sound anything like Happy Birthday.
“So I’m not a musician or anything, but back me up here – isn’t that kind of bullshit? I mean, last time I talked to Jonas he said that most of the time jazz musicians are improvising using the chords of the song. So if you, like, get rid of the song part of the song, it’s just more improvising, right? Even if you write your new melody down, you’re still improvising, but you just, you know, took longer to do it. It’s like, at that point, why bother using the song at all?”
by Esthero – suggested by Garrett Shatzer
When I wake up in the morning, I make a pot of coffee. Eight O’Clock Colombian. Ever since I was in school. I drink two cups before I leave for work. Sometimes I’ll drink one out on my porch, if it’s not too cold and the neighbor’s kids have left for school already.
Every once in a while – not often, but every once in a while – I’ll have this vision behind my eyes while I’m making coffee. It’s not because I’m particularly angry or upset that morning, and it doesn’t happen only on days when life’s particularly stressful. It seems like this vision happens for no reason. It follows some kind of internal logic or random chance.
Every once in a while, when I’m making the coffee, I imagine what it’d be like to raise the fresh pot over my head and smash it on the counter with all my might. I imagine the scalding hot liquid torching my hands and arms. I imagine the glass flying left and right, shards getting in my eyes and hair. I imagine the coffee swirling with blood and sweat on the counter, making a brown-red Jackson Pollock painting. I imagine Lorraine’s scream from the other room as she tries to figure out what the hell happened. There’s pain and noise and bloody coffee everywhere. Then I snap out of it, and here I am again pouring the coffee. Every once in a while I’ll have that vision. It’s probably no big deal – I mean, everyone has things like that.
by Greg Bartholomew – suggested by Greg Bartholomew
We didn’t notice it until months after it had happened, we think. We couldn’t know for sure. Maybe it had been that way for years, but since we lived in the heart of the city we could never see it for the light polluting the view around the clock. All any of us knew was that as long as we could remember, the stars glowed white – that special, iridescent white you think of when you see the night sky in paintings.
We probably would have gone right on thinking so – after all, within the city limits all anyone saw after sunset was a black sheet and streetlights in the corner of their eye – but we could still see the moon. First the moon turned the warm, gentle orange of a harvest moon. But instead of paling the next night, it darkened as if stained with tea. Over the next few nights it darkened more, until the moon was a deep, blood red. A handful of us headed out to the country to get a better look, and that’s when we noticed that the stars had also become a deep blood red, twinkling sharply like the dust of rubies.
We didn’t know whether they had become that way in sync with the moon, or had changed and then led the moon to change. But we started going to the country more often, just in case any more changes were on the way.