So, earlier tonight I found myself (well me and my wife) at a meet and greet(?) or maybe more like a lecture. It went a bit longer than I expected to and it was a bit strange but it is neither here nor there. Or more to the point it is a story for another time cause you know what today is right?
Yep, it’s Wednesday. For those keeping score that means it is time for an Indies Unlimited flash fiction challenge piece. Now, I could spend my time going through the motions of telling you all about the challenge and how it works but this week I’m not going to do that (go to their site and check it out). Instead I realized something after I wrote the piece.
This one needs a touch of context to get a feel for what is going on. See, I didn’t realize what I had done till after I walked away from the computer. But stories are things we have buried in our subconscious and they come out in strange ways sometimes.
For this particular piece we have to explore some other aspects of pop culture. Or more to the point a specific area of pop culture. I have been a fan of Amanda Palmer for a while now. This in turn leads to Neil Gaiman but that is a story for another time. Anyway, Amanda Palmer does some strange stuff within not only her music but also within her shows. And at one point she created a musical group called Evelyn Evelyn.
The idea of this one was a conjoined twin by the name Evelyn Evelyn. The music that came from this experiment is some tripped up stuff you should really check out to get a feel for it. Basically, what happened was within the piece you are about to read I ended up channeling a bit of the strangeness that would come from the idea of the twins.
And then I couldn’t let this sit idly by without sharing this particular song from Evelyn Evelyn.
It had taken four years, but last night Vanessa finally told Phillip why she hated her birthday so much. Now he understood that it wasn’t just her attempt at getting attention.
Poor thing, he thought, while standing in florist’s shop. He’d ordered the roses a week ago.
Now, the question was: what to do? Should he try to break the cycle of sorrow at her birthdays, or should he respect her wishes and let another one go quietly by? Everyone deserves to have a nice birthday, don’t they?
He bought the flowers, couldn’t see a way around it. One dozen long stem roses would have been the perfect cliché to show his love for her, but after her confession it just felt drab. Philip pulled his phone out of his pocket and spoke Vanessa’s name into the mouthpiece.
“Get dressed,” he said when she answered. “I’ll be over in about fifteen minutes. You don’t have to do this alone.”
She had been crying. He heard the crack in her voice when she said hello, felt the tears on her cheeks though he was still several miles away. He wanted to hold her, whisper in her ear, tell her he was there for her, but he didn’t know, couldn’t know the pain she felt every year on her birthday.
“She was older, came out a minute before me.” Vanessa leaned against him as she looked out beyond the stone that rose up from the grave. “It was all my fault…”
“I’m sure she never blamed you.” Philip laid the flowers in front of the tombstone.
She turned to face him for the first time since they had made the trip to the cemetery. “You weren’t there,” Vanessa said. “You didn’t see her eyes as she died in my arms. She couldn’t speak, couldn’t say anything. But her eyes…”
The way she looked at him then, the glow in her eyes, Philip fought with himself to hold her gaze. But it burned and her eyes had gone cold.
As a side note: This isn’t the first time that Amanda Palmer has influenced a story around here. A while back the story titled “Coin Operated Boy” came from one of the Dresden Doll Songs of the same name. Granted that story only took the name from the song but it is still another place touched by the music that is played around here from time to time. Always a bit off kilter.
Speaking of “Coin Operated Boy,” you can find that and other stories within the pages of Hate Candy. And just to keep the whole plug moving forward… there is another edition of the Hate Candy series that will be available soon in your choice of format.