Working on my fiction! This week’s prompt spoke to me so I decided to give it a whirl. We were asked to let a character be inspired by music. I had to show in 400 words or less how my character responds to a piece of music.

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The music rolls upward in smoky circles toward lights covered in red-cellophane.  On the floor below, a man and a woman sit side by side at a tiny round table. Dressed in black, they look sharp together.  The two have had several bottles of wine, and the woman has draped her bare legs over his thighs. He pushes against her and something rises inside me, a longing perhaps to be touched like that. And always, the music, it pumps.

While the drummer fans his cymbals, I watch the woman teasing her man, and I feel like I am watching some kind of primitive human mating ritual. From out of nowhere, she is shouting. Her voice rises over the music, and her fingers open and close as she clutches the air around her.

Suddenly, he pushes her legs off his lap; he is on his feet, taking long strides towards the back of the club. I look to see her reaction but I can’t see her face because her hair blocks her eyes. I see now that she is drunk, that she is crying, choking on her sadness. Help her, I look around wildly. Someone help her; she is too beautiful to cry.

The waitress comes and whispers something in the woman’s ear. For a moment I can’t tell whose ear is whose; they are a collage of interchangeable body parts, two women, two strangers come together in the darkness. The woman owes for the bottles of wine, and she takes out her wallet to pay. A few papers fall on the floor, but she doesn’t notice or — if she does — she doesn’t care.

The waitress leaves, and the woman dabs at her eyes with a cocktail napkin. She checks her watch, but never turns around: never turns to see where he might be. Or where he might not be. After what seems like an eternity of jazz, he returns to his chair as if he has only been gone a moment, not some small eternity. Staring into the dark hole of the horn player’s trumpet, he taps his foot to the beat.

The music quiets. The man says something I can’t decipher, words that cause the woman to rise. Tall and curved, she reaches for her purse. When she looks for him, he is three-paces ahead of her. Teetering on too high heels, cigarette smoke swirls around her and, for a moment, she recognizes the toxic funk she is in, a low vibration or a blue note from the bass player’s strings.

How do you feel about people who are drunk in public?

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