Singers swallow syllables like prescribed pills; tapping the repeat button, I force her to regurgitate until overdose.
I can imagine her, gown whipping in the wind, stumbling in the sand with heels in hand. The waves tumbling towards her gives the song a useless effect; maybe the song is meant to take place in a coffee shop. She’ll watch her boyfriend exchange a tall order of coffee for a quick date with the beautiful barista. I’m standing by the counter, waiting for my order. Her thoughts funnel through a rubber bent backbone, branch out the arms until humming in my headphones’ hands. The drums kick in, she downs her espresso; the bass builds the song’s steady heartbeat, she reapplies her lip gloss; the synth sprinkles in, she slips on her sunglasses; the lyrics layer in, she gets up and leaves. I think about chasing after her, but the hook anchors me down to a leather chair complemented with a sticky table. My thumb taps the back button and she regurgitates. I eye the baked goods in the glass display, but remain seated. I believe I have a good taste in music and let the sounds shimmy up, feed my buds like an IV drip.
Singers do not serve songs plain.
My playlist is a food court: lead singer serves me at the counter; band members loiter in the kitchen. They bake cakes layered with harmonies, slice vegetables into repetitive beats, and ask of my preferred cup of tea. Some days I binge on a specific song; other days I skip meals. My head rearranges the meal for my senses.
I self-manipulate with music: certain synths taste sour and some rhythms rot in my mind’s cavity, but I still press play. The IV of songs I hate, drip faster and resonate in my ears. When singing the song I hate, she never leaves the coffee shop. We make eye contact. The song fades and she orders a refill.
I approach my leather chair and sticky table, now garnished with your cell phone and chocolate-filled croissant. You follow my gaze to her – stirring in her cream with her left hip popped out – before clearing your throat. I shift my eyes to the right; they lock in on you like a typewriter’s tab stop. After removing my ear buds, well fitted like fangs, I wrap the rubber backbone around my phone and place it by yours. You smirk at the song title lit up on my screen. I smirk back before putting my phone to sleep. The feeding session has ended. In the corner of my eye, I watch her walk out of the coffee shop. Her hips swing like a pendulum: upside down metronome. I sip my coffee. With each swallow, my ears pop; the drums kick and the song will re-fade. I start to miss her, only because I forget the words.
My coffee tastes too watered-down and your croissant’s chocolate to pastry ratio is way off. The chocolate drools, chalking up the plate like dirt. I want a dose of her, but instead keep my hands clasped because you want to exchange inside jokes. I down another small sip – ears pop, drums kick, song fades. You pick at the chalked chocolate like they are scabs. (Swallow, pop, kick, replay). I tap my thumb against the cup’s rim, hoping it’s the replay button. (Swallow, pop, kick, replay). I wonder if the song will make my coffee stronger, but you won’t stop talking. (Swallow, pop, kick, replay). I glance at the door. You glance over too. You probably assume she’s a stranger or someone I graduated high school with. But I don’t consider someone who serves me a meal a stranger. You bite off some of your croissant – its flakes break off and cover the chalked chocolate. As you swallow, your eyes light up: sun kissed skies. No dessert or pastry is even close to the taste of music. Chocolate-filled croissants are like pop songs without a hook or bands without a leader. (Swallow, pop, kick, replay).
You sigh and smile.
I smirk before taking a sip.
You ask me about my favorite song.
Song I listened to (on repeat) when writing: All of you