Six String Serenade (FICTION)

Waking up from the worst hangover ever wasn’t exactly the best way Veronica Roth would have wanted to put it, but seriously, there was just no way else to describe it. It literally felt like waking up from the worst hangover ever. There was that dullness in her head that seemed to send a shuddering ache down the rest of her body, just holding her down from even wanting to move in the slightest.

Veronica turned to her belly and reached for the blankets, covering herself completely that she snuggled beneath sheets, just holding onto to anything that could make the world stop turning and twisting around her.

It felt like hell and Veronica knew that, at least for the time being, she wasn’t going anywhere else.

She just was going to sleep it off until it all went away.

Like everything else.

>***<

“Won’t you let me walk you home from school?”

“What are you doing?”

“Won’t you let me meet you at the pooool,” Veronica sang, closing her eyes with a comfortable sigh as she leaned back against the frame of the door and strummed out Big Star’s “Thirteen” on her guitar.

“Stop it!” Joan shot out, dropping her gaze away from the vanity mirror as she dropped her head into the padding of her forearms as they lay folded above the surface of the table.

With a coy smile, Veronica slowly approached her betrothed and sang, “Maybe Friday I can… Get tickets for the daaance.”

“You’re not supposed to be here right now.”

“And I’ll taaake you, ooooh-ooh.”

“It’s bad luck.”

“Won’t you tell your dad, ‘get off my back!’”, Veronica sang, still strumming.

“…tell him what we said ‘bout ‘Paint it Blaaack’.”

“That’s it!” Joan snapped, standing up now as she turned away from the vanity table and picked up her guitar.

“We’re doing this?” Veronica asked

“You started it,” Joan replied, strapping her guitar around her shoulder. “I’m just pickin’ up from where you last left off, darlin’.”

Something inside Veronica just dropped. To put it simply, it was this great big, fuzzy superball of just happiness and love and it was all coming from Joan; beautiful, little Joan with her crooked smile and her dirty, blonde hair… picking up her guitar and just being beautiful.

Joan, her betrothed.

Her wife… the one girl she was going to call her own for the rest of her life.

Veronica’s been scared and without anything to shake away all the jitterbugs, she picked up her guitar and went over to Joan’s room. She didn’t know what she was doing when she did it too. She was anxious and nervous — even though this was all her stupid idea to begin with. And just one look from her the moment she came in with the guitar and that was it; Veronica remembered exactly why she wanted to marry this girl in the first place.

“So where were we?” Joan asked, getting her fingers into just the right chord pattern at the top of the neck of the guitar.

“…rock’n’roll is here to stay.”

“Got it,” Joan nodded, strumming along.

“How do we do this?”

“Well,” Joan began, looking up at Veronica. “You play the same exact thing you did when you got here and I’ll play over that.”

“What did you have in mind?”

“Something a little ambient,” Joan replied, inspecting the strings as her fingers reached over to tune the instrument. “Thought I’d play that into the instrumental and do a little thing of my own.”

“I can’t wait to hear that.”

Joan leaned forward and kissed Veronica. “Alright, on the count of five, play the verse over and I’ll come in after four bars.”

Veronica nodded and followed, playing the melody with enough time for Joan to synch herself into the song.

Joan closed her eyes and licked her lips, her shoulders swaying along to the sound of Veronica’s melody.

“…rock’n roll is here to stay,” Joan sang, strumming now her own ambient layer.

“Come inside where it’s okay…”

Joan opened her eyes and sighed softly at Veronica, “And I’ll taaake you, ooooh-ooh.”

Veronica strummed away into the instrumental, not really changing anything — just keeping the melody going enough for Joan to come in and play her own bit over over it.

Joan changed the part up a little, but she didn’t go too far. She just built on the melody Veronica had and ran off with it for a couple of sections, keeping herself in synch with the original structure of the song so gracefully that Veronica naturally led her back into the verse.

“Won’t you tell me what you’re thinking of?” Veronica and Joan sang together. “Would you be an outlaw for my loooove?”

They were just so connected to the song and the moment that neither one of them heard the gunshot pierce through… Veronica only noticed it the moment Joan stopped playing and just slumped on the ground before her.

There was a wound on the back of her neck…

Veronica didn’t even cry — she was just so caught off guard by what had happened that she just slumped to her knees — her jaw struck open, her betrothed deceased.

“If it’s over let me know, if it’s not but I can’t go… I’ll still taaake you, ooooh-ooh.”

>***<

Hours, minutes, possibly even a day or two passed until Veronica felt strong enough to come out of hiding.

The invisible nail that tried to split her apart was no longer there. Not wanting to risk it, Veronica turned on her side and kept herself underneath the blankets until she knew that there was just no way of that dulling ache was gone away completely.

It was raining out, and from the looks of it, it sure did look like it had been raining for a while now.

“OK.” Veronica said out loud, nodding her head as she tried to take stock of everything around her.

Veronica kicked her legs off the bed and gently set them on the floor; toes stretched about, tipping into the rugged press of old carpet — they always felt firmer than newer ones.

She let her forearms drop over her thighs as she leaned forward and assessed her surroundings.

“OK.”

Alright, her guitar case was leaning against the dresser and her suitcase was right on top of it.

“OK.”

It was obvious this was a hotel room. And it was obvious enough that she had checked in here, but why? Why in the name of all that is holy in the universe couldn’t she remember actually coming in here in the first place?

She wasn’t on tour or anything.

She didn’t even know if she even was on tour, but here she was.

“OK.”

Veronica stood up, grabbed the pack of Marlboro reds from the night stand and walked over to the window, sighing as she got herself as close as she could to the rain without getting wet.

Veronica leaned against the frame of the window, opened the pack, slipped a stick between her lips and looked out at the city in front of her as she lit her cigarette.

Veronica let herself go on that first drag, just savoring that the way the toasty blend of smoke filled her up.

There was a chill in the air and Veronica found herself shivering. Veronica kept the cigarette between her lips as she reached out for the sheets and covered herself up.

“Things I don’t know,” Veronica began, asking herself, still shaking in spite of the covers.

“… How I got here? Where here is? And what exactly I’m doing here? OK, that’s what I don’t know.”

Veronica took another drag, a quick one this time, and looked around the room again.

“Things I do know,” Veronica began, exhaling. “I’m alright. Even though I had that massive migraine, I’m not hurt in any kind of way. All my things are here — well, most of them. But that’s good: I’m alright and I have my things. I should be fine.”

Veronica took another drag. “Good for me.”

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