Kathleen Gabriel – Can’t Stop Singing -Anthology Sneak Peek I

As you may know, FVP’s new Anthology, Free-flowing Stories, will be released online and at our sale on Dec. 6th.

Here’s a teaser and a snippet from the first story:

Kathy author photo anthologyCAN’T STOP SINGING  by Kathleen Gabriel

Here’s what happens when those songs that get stuck in your head go bad.

Songs came to her.

Songs came to her without preface or forewarning.

Sometimes it was an eight-bar phrase, and nothing more.

Sometimes it was the same eight-bar phrase, over and over.

An earworm, her psychiatrist called it. Everybody gets them. If it worries you, we can increase your anti-anxiety meds.

Snort. Yeah, right.

Songs kept coming to her. They would start up while she was singing something else, startling her into stopping to listen—to find out what the new song had to say.

But they were never new. She listened and recognized them, every one of them. Some she had not heard or thought of in years. Bare melody, sometimes a simple harmony came along for the ride. A bit of a song, a few bars of a chorus, a snip of a verse.

But all were other people’s songs. Just like in college, when she’d failed composition three times and failed to get her bachelor of music degree because of it; there were no original songs in her head.

Gradually the orchestration improved—percussion, bass lines, harmonies, secondary themes—until it was as complete as any expert recording.

Then the music lengthened. It would still start anywhere in the piece, but longer bits came to her. Instead of eight bars she would hear an entire verse, or the chorus.

After four months, she no longer needed a stereo. But she still could not choose what to listen to, in what order, or when.

Concertos came. Operettas. Symphony movements. Elvis at his best with symphonic backup. The Moody Blues. The Grateful Dead. Frank Sinatra did it his way.

….

The songs kept coming, and she saw them as an opportunity to practice singing. The songs became louder and more insistent and she had to sing, she could not refuse.

People on the train were amused, but when she didn’t respond to their questions, they shrank away from her.

Customers and co-workers complained. Her boss told her to stop.

She tried to stop singing, but all she could do was to lower her volume, and not very much. The music was loud, and she had to participate.

She tried to control the dancing. That, too, was difficult.

The muzak in the store where she worked was just loud enough to keep the shoppers in a friendly, positive, purchasing sort of mood. The music in her head was louder. One day while making photocopies at the customer service counter she sang a hip-bumping New Orleans tune, throwing her head back and letting it all out….

Want more? You can get the Anthology December 6th, December 13th & December 18th at our events. We’ll have a link to Amazon for online purchase as soon as it is released.Anthology 2014 final cover treats

Anthology 2014 final cover front

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Moving On

I had to apologize to my husband, Kevin before I could go on to my next life. My dead body in Bill’s bed made that pretty clear.

I had no breath with which to speak, and so I would have to write him a note.

But grasping a pen with these wispy fingers was not easy, and it was nearly impossible to drag one across paper, let alone to make it write. Daily I struggled with it, and every evening I watched Kevin drink Maker’s Mark, staring at Simpsons reruns without laughing. I ached to clasp him to my insubstantial bosom, but when I drew near to comfort him, he got up and put on a sweater.

But sometimes he went out. It always surprised me so much that I couldn’t drift to the garage in time to get into the car. Where did he go? Instead of drinking at home, alone, maybe he was going to a bar. I wanted to find out. And if no one there would talk to him, maybe I could keep my poor sweetie company.

One night I was in the garage looking at my garden tools, wondering what he was going to do with them, when Kevin got home from work. He left the car door open, so either he forgot to close it, or he was going out.

I slipped into the car to wait, just in case. After all, I had no pressing need to stay home. I didn’t have to cook dinner. Or eat. Or go to the bathroom. All I had was time.

He drove to our friend, Dot’s house and I flowed up the sidewalk with him. She greeted him at the door with a warm smile and a ladylike handshake. Dot was always charming. Kevin did well to visit her.

I slid in the door alongside him. As soon as she got the door closed, Dot clamped her arms around Kevin’s neck and greeted him with a sloppy kiss. What the hell?

“Move in with me, now that the old bat is dead,” she said.

He stiffened and glanced at the floor. “Not yet. We have to wait a decent period.”

Old bat! Old bat? I flew around the room. I wanted to shred his toupee. I wanted to throw her Precious Moments plates off the mantel. But the only physical thing I had taught myself to do was to hold a pen.

I had been going to write him a note of apology.

I was a birdbrain.

The next day I practiced more useful things than holding a stupid pen, and the next time Kevin went out, I was ready.

But he didn’t drive to Dot’s house. He headed toward my friend, Shirley’s. She was a great person, always full of fun, and never had a bad word to say about anyone. She’d be able to cheer him up. I wondered why he was going to see Shirley instead of his girlfriend, Dot? Maybe Dot’s invitation for him to move in made him antsy. Well, I could get back to her later. I had a bone to pick with her.

Not that I had a bone.Kathleen's Grave Couple

I scooted ahead of Kevin into the house and darned if Shirley didn’t greet him with a big old kiss.

I swung my fist into an old family photo and knocked it a whole half inch out of whack.

Kevin and Shirley were smooching and didn’t notice.

I flew up to the ceiling and smacked the light fixture. Some dead fruit flies fell through me.

Shirley took Kevin’s hand and led him to the kitchen. I watched them chat over dinner. They used paper napkins. Twice I pulled them off their laps, and dropped them on the floor.

The second time I did it, Shirley shivered. “Excuse me, Kev, while I turn the heat up.”

“Kev,” she called him! He hated being called Kev. Why did he let her get away with it?

I followed her to the thermostat and tried to flick her hair, but it was fused.

Kevin helped clear and wash the dinner dishes. He used to do that with me, in the early days. “Don’t get used to it, chickie,” I wanted to shout.

Shirley nestled under Kevin’s arm on the couch. He ran a finger under her pearl necklace.

I went to the piano and flipped pages of the music. I glanced back to see the effect I’d elicited.

Nada. They were busy gazing into one another’s eyes.

It made me so mad that new strength flowed into my fingers. I was able to strike a key on the piano, and it sounded, clear and loud.

I looked back at them.

Kevin had his nose tucked into Shirley’s neck. “Did you get a cat?”

Her eyes were wide as she stared at the piano. “No. No one’s here but us.”

Ha. I had to let them know that they were not alone, and to let them know exactly who was here. Was there a song that would tell them?

Oh, yes. Of course. The one they’d played at our wedding, so long ago, the one inspired by the idiotic movie, “Love Story.” I settled into it. So insipid, but I had liked it when we were so young, so long ago. “Love means you never have to say you’re sorry. Love means without a word you’ll understand.” Oh, how true it was for me now.

When I finished the verse and chorus Shirley was shaking, and Kevin was white as a—well, white as a ghost.

He cut his visit short and I went home with him. Whenever he started to fall asleep, I was there, nagging him, flipping pages in the book he left by the bedside table, “How to Talk to a Woman.” I’d always thought it endearing, that he was trying to find better ways of communicating with me. The bastard.

To hell with apologizing and going on to my next life.

I’m going to stay here and haunt his ass.

The End

by Kathleen Gabriel  Published with Permission

Image credit: Gregg Morris

Find out more about  Kathleen Gabriel, Featured Author

This story as well as some other recent posts can be found in literary journal FALL INTO STORY

A Faerie’s Whim

Loquisha waved her wand and pulled its tip from Summer into Fall.  The tall grasses, dry with the sun and sweeping in the newly crisp wind, seemed to bulge forth in a golden mountain.  A face burst into glorious bloom, all whiskers, fur and magnificence.  A shaggy mane shook leaves fluttering into the air showering the scarlet, ash, russet and ochre into the newborn season.  The faerie stood boldly in the presence of the rising lion.

Watercolor by Marcia Tuttle

“ Good season, Garmonsion,” Loqisha unfurled from her tongue in a low booming tone, “Your time has come to wake and lead us from Summer through the luscious languor and wistful chill of Autumn.  Do you stand at your summons from our kingdom or would you sleep into oblivion?”

“ROOOOAR!!!” Garmonsion shook the air with his reply.  His great paws lifted, claws bared into the breeze, as he stood on his haunches before leaping forward to charge across the field into the distance.”

A trilling laugh broke the stillness left behind him, introducing the arrival of Sister.

“ Bromillia, my dear,” Loquisha began nervously, “it is so marvelous to…”

“Yes, yes,” Bromillia interrupted in a voice high and piercing as a piccolo, “I suppose you think your drama quite dignified and enchanting.  Who gave to you the rites to the Changing of the Season.  You must be charmed to have escaped unscathed.  He could have dashed you to pieces!”  She broke once again into her giggle like a passing parade of a thousand bells.

Loquisha was quite deflated.  She threw herself down on the brittle grasses, her lovely rose skirts soiled by bug spit and popping seeds.

“I only wanted the heat to end.”  She complained, “this endless sweating was ruining my satin silkies.”

Bromillia rolled her eyes and disappeared in a tiny star-like flash.  She appeared again pushed along through the sky on the rising wind only inches from Garmonsion’s flowing mane.

“GARMONSION!!!!” rumbled the air on the open plain—her tiny voice magnified to shake even his storming enormity.

He slowed and padded to a sinewy stop.  He paced purposefully, standing at each point of the compass and staring into the distance to see what or who had called his name.

“Sleep….” cooed from Bromillia’s lovely throat.

With a wave of her wand, Garmonsion rolled to his side and disappeared into the Summer grass along with the cold wind.

by Sheri J. Kennedy  Published with Permission

From Literary Journal, Fall Into Story edited by Casondra Brewster

Image by artist, Marcia Tuttle also appears in Fall Into Story – used for promotional purposes with permission.