Woman and Flame Part 1

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Ch. 1

22 years later...

Thank goodness, I can finally breathe. This last year has been spent in the music studio with a certain entertainer, who shall remain nameless. It’s not that he was rude or ungrateful, he’s just way too cocky.

His first single debuted online thirty minutes ago and I won’t be watching the comments or tweets of the reactions or opinions by his fans and critics. It wasn’t his best album, not his worst either, but mediocre at best. The slightly catchy songs will be forgotten with time.

Inhaling the dry suburban air of Santa Monica through my topless Jeep Wrangler I have owned for a better part of a year, I comb my fingers through my whipping mousey brown unsettled hair. It was amazing to be outside, my back-covered porch was calling my name along with a glass of wine. Not to celebrate the release of this cursed album, but to celebrate my incoming year-long stay-cation.

I let out a tempered breath, glad to be done with it, as I slow to a stop several vehicles behind the lead car at a red light. Resting my wrist over the steering wheel, I glance around at the busy surroundings. People are bustling around everywhere, some exercising, others sitting outside the strip of shops and cafes, all with their phones in their hands glued to their faces. I swear, aliens could use this road as their crash landing runway and no one would notice.

Ughhh, I needed this break.

I’m waiting for the red light to turn green, desperately trying to get to my favorite destination on Earth, the breathtaking views on my back porch were calling my name.

My fantasies are interrupted by the sound of the monotone woman coming from my incredibly clear upgraded speaker system.

"Elle Walker calling."

Oh dear, my sister. I knew she would be calling today. I press the answer button on my steering wheel, just as the red light changes to green.

Dealing with my excitable sister is jarring enough as it is. But given the fact that I was now free from working 12 hours a day for the next year... Lord have mercy on me and my eardrums.

“Yes?” I answer, unable to hide the exhaustion tainting my otherwise strong voice.

“Why didn’t you tell me the single was goin’ to drop today, Townsey?“, Elle’s Tennessean accent is prevalent as soon as she speaks. She’s never cared to mask it as I have.

I start to follow the line of vehicles and pass through the intersection.

“Must have slipped my mi-“, I start saying, but I’m cut off by her excitement.

“It’s already gettin’ a shit ton of comments, it’s really good. I’m listenin’ to it now as well as every single Millennial in the world.”

Rolling my eyes and snorting a silent laugh, “Really? Every single one of them?“. The only reason the song was getting so much attention was because of the three-year-long hiatus he had just come off of. After the initial hype, it would be pushed to the side by a much better pop song. One of which, I helped produce and I’m actually incredibly proud of.

Veering left, I follow the flow of traffic through another crowded intersection. The crowds of pedestrians thin out and the roads narrow as I follow the road up to the residential area of my neighborhood.

I live in a decent-sized suburb of Santa Monica, where palms and perfectly manicured lots wind up and down steady slopes as it slowly wraps around, giving a spectacular view of the city surrounding it.

The sweet taste of red wine on my tongue teases my eager taste buds as Elle jabbers on and on. But then a sequence of chords bombards my mind:


My breath hitches, as the sequence takes over my brain and my pulse quickens.

“Elle, hey, lemme’ call you right back,” I mutter quickly, while my finger finds the disconnect button on the wheel. Elle protests but is quickly cut off as I press the button and end the call. I flip my right turn signal on, check the rear view mirror, then rip the wheel of the jeep over, almost driving up onto the curb of the sidewalk just in front of a large stucco house.

Oops, I think while peering over the steering wheel at a blue recycling bin I’ve just love-tapped with the nose of my jeep.

When the bin wobbles slightly but comes to rest, I throw the jeep into Park and hum the sequence out loud, forcing myself to remember it. Leaning over the center console, I frantically dig through my beige shoulder bag resting in the passenger’s seat.

I heard this sequence last weekend when I was in that semi-conscious state of being half awake and half asleep, but it slipped away before I could fully wake up and scribble it down in my music journal.

This time though, I caught it.

Yanking the black journal, along with a pen that has a layer of purse dust on it, I open it to the first blank page and scrawl out the sequence as I hum it again aloud.

I stare down at my messy block writing, and a self-satisfied grin spreads across my lips.

Using the pen as a bookmark, I shut my worn journal, tossing it back to the passenger seat, and flip my blinking turn signal to the left. Checking my mirrors, I wait for two oncoming vehicles, both of which are new model BMWs, and then pull back onto the street.

I make my way quickly through my residential neighborhood only slightly exceeding the speed limit and finally round the narrow road to the cul-de-sac of single-story ranches, all sharing an incredible view from their backyards.

My house is set in the middle, separated from my neighbors by palms, manzanita trees, and shrubbery on the embankments on either side like bookends. I love my house. I bought it for the view from my back porch and when I decide to sell it, it’ll be worth nearly double for what I paid after all the work I’ve put into it mostly myself.

Unfortunately for me, my parents don’t see my house as an incredible investment, but instead a hindrance to which a single woman shouldn’t be taking on by herself.

Did I mention I was southern?

My house on Bonita Drive was built in the seventies, so I had my work cut out for me. The vinyl and linoleum mixed flooring in the kitchen and bathrooms were the first to go. And once I’d updated that, I couldn’t ignore the matted shag mustard brown carpet in the sunken living room and hallways. After that was complete, the popcorn ceilings and closed-off wall separating the kitchen from my piano room had to go.

Yes, I have a piano room. I’m southern, so sue me.

The D-chord sequence plays again in my mind as I click the garage opener while pulling up to my driveway. The garage doors start their slow incline as I wait impatiently for them. My thumb strums against the wheel to the four / four tempo count.

Then, the sequence changes suddenly as I hum the notes in the beat to the sequence.

I scramble, grabbing my journal and opening it up quickly, nearly losing the pen in the process, I scribble the notes:

B, D minor, A minor, G, A minor, G, A minor, B.

It’s a simple triad, but I hum out the chords to hear them appropriately.

Lifting the end of the pen, I lightly chew on the tip staring at the verse. I hum it over and over, desperately wanting to get to my piano as my mind becomes engulfed in the rhythm.

Shoving everything again to the side, I pull into my tidy garage and then climb out. Slinging my shoulder bag onto my forearm, I walk to the door, quickly unlocking it and stepping inside closing the garage door behind me.

Inside, I do notice my house is still clean, looks like Hurricane Elle hasn’t been by yet, I think.

Walking straight, I enter my updated white kitchen and drop my bag onto the spacious center island. With my journal in hand, I make my way over to the nearby piano, which sits to the left of my open kitchen, waiting for me to play its keys.

Fixing the journal with a butterfly clip that’s already hooked to the music rack, I open it to the cramped filled page of my notes and take a seat on the bench, quickly opening the wooden covering, exposing the keys, and running the tips of my fingers over the ivories.

Then, relentlessly, I play the incredibly simple verse well into the night.

I wanted to give the impression of Townsend as a hard worker and perhaps slightly obsessive.

However, if your passion is your job wouldn’t the obsession be acceptable? Or maybe she’s compensating for something?

Long stretch, but the entertainers both mentioned are molded after real-life people LOL feel free to guess!

This story kicks off in the following chapter so stay tuned! It’ll be out later today!


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