Sunday, 29 October 2017

The Way You Make Me Feel

Hello! Here I am with a rather late last minute link-up offering for Friday Reflections. The prompt was this: put your Ipod on shuffle/turn the radio on. Write a post using the song as your prompt. 

The song I heard was Michael Jackson's The Way You Make Me Feel. So I made up this story and called it... The Way You Make Me Feel. Just for the good old obligatory Captain Obvious. Done.

Here it is: 


THE WAY YOU MAKE ME FEEL





I was standing at the sink when Ben came in and turned the radio on. The infectious beat of Michael Jackson's The Way You Make Me Feel filled the room.

"Turn it off!" I snapped. 

"What's wrong with you?" Ben frowned. 

 I still couldn't hear that song so many years later. It had been one of her favourites. Ben poured himself coffee and made toast. I took slow breaths and tried to stop shaking. The flashbacks were happening again. I'd never told Ben what had happened. 

We were getting married soon. It was time. I couldn't keep this from him. Stephanie should have been here, helping me prepare for our upcoming wedding. She would have been my bridesmaid and closest confidante.

She would have helped me plan a hen's night and choose the dress. Just like I would have helped her. Although Steph had always scoffed at the idea of settling down. She'd wanted to travel. Now she would never get to do any of it. Because of me. 

I don't know how long I stood there before I realised I was crying. My knees gave way and I sunk to the ground. 

"What's wrong?" Ben was alarmed.

"I have to tell you something," I mumbled. 


Ben's eyes clouded, his expression wary. "Okay."

"I killed some one." 


"I'm sorry," Ben laughed. He clearly  thought I was joking. 


"I killed someone." This time was louder.

"I don't understand." Ben had crouched beside me. He sunk onto the floor. I told him everything. 

I told him about that rainy day so many years ago. I was only seventeen and a cocky P-plate driver. We'd gotten into the car to go on a road trip to the coast. We were so full of joy. Carefree, young. Having our first taste of freedom. We'd been laughing and listening to music. It started to rain but that certainly didn't dampen our spirits. 

Then the song came on. 

"Turn it up!" Stephanie urged. I obliged. We both joined in to the chorus like over eager drunken karaoke participants at a pub. To this day I still don't know what happened. I wasn't speeding. I hadn't been drinking. I just lost control of the car. One minute were singing along in jubilation, and the next we weren't. I woke up in hospital. Stephanie didn't. It was a miracle I was alive. That miracle hadn't extended to my friend. I'd killed her. 


I would never forget the pinched haunted faces of her parents at her funeral. I knew what they were thinking. I thought it too. Why her and not our daughter? In the months and years that followed, my life unravelled. I quit driving. It was impossible. I couldn't imagine ever driving again. It was only because of my parents unwavering support that I eventually finished university and began working. I'd met Ben through mutual friends, and life suddenly seemed sweet again. Until I heard I heard a damn Michael Jackson song and it all came rushing back. 

"Babe, it wasn't your fault," Ben regarded me with those magnificent blue eyes that had made me fall in love with him. "It was an accident." I sobbed in his arms. 

Some weeks later I knew what I had to do. I was shaking as I rang the doorbell. Ben squeezed my hand.


"Claire!" Stephanie's eyes gaped at me. 

"Hello, Mrs Carlson." 


She ushered us in and I introduced Ben. Mr Carlson shuffled in from the backyard and shook Ben's hand warmly. The picture in the living room momentarily halted me. Stephanie and I were smiling from inside the frame wearing our formal gowns.  Mrs Carlson caught me looking at it and we exchanged glances before she excused herself to make coffee. 


We finally sat down with steaming mugs for sustenance. "I suppose you're wondering why I'm here," I began. 

"I'm just glad you came," Mrs Carlson replied. "We never see any of Steph's friends. It's...like she didn't exist..." she trailed off.

"The thing is," Mr Carlson continued "we didn't handle things very well at the time."

"Neither did I," I admitted "I'm so sorry..."


Before I could go on Mrs Carlson shook our head. "We realise now that it wasn't your fault."

We all had tears in our eyes and the atmosphere was charged.

"I've always wanted to ask you something." Mrs Carlson broke the silence. "Do you remember her last words?"


I nodded through my tears. "We were singing The Way You Make Me Feel. It was on the radio."

Mrs Carlson managed a winsome smile. "She always loved that song." 


"Yes, she did."

Once we started talking about Steph, we couldn't stop. I felt her presence. My funny, amazing, beautiful friend with her red gold hair and crooked nose. We remembered her love of 80s music, animals, the beach. Her offbeat sense of humour, her kindness. It felt so good to talk about my friend again. Before we left, I handed Mrs Carlson an invitation to mine and Ben's wedding. "I'll understand if you don't want to come," I said.


"We wouldn't miss it," she insisted. "Thank you." 

We walked to the car and Ben looked at me. "Proud of you," he said and handed me the car keys. "You can do it." 

I got in and turned the key in the ignition with shaking hands. Slowly, we drove away. 

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1 comment:

  1. That was quite a story. It is indeed brave to face your monsters.

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