This piece of writing stemmed from a guided-write that I participated in during the second semester of my Creative Writing degree. We were played a selection of songs and each one inspired where the story would be taken. Two songs that jump out in this piece are Hall & Oates’ You Make My Dreams and David Bowie’s Life on Mars.
Really interesting and inspiring technique for those struggling with writer’s block! Enjoy…
Waking up in a stranger’s bed is always an unsettling feeling, no matter how many times it happens. You open your eyes to a splitting headache and the smell of unclean sheets. You roll over to find your phone and are confronted by the looming, sweaty back of the bed-owner, heaving up and down in slumber. Then there’s the teeth-gritting terror of gathering your garments – deciding to abandon your underwear when you realise they’re trapped under the hulking body – and guiding your still slightly intoxicated brain through the maze of an unknown home.
A dog barks at you as you crack open the dirty door and stumble down the stone steps. Some sort of terrier, too big for its boots as it sizes you up. You sneer at it as you pass its nose, stuck between the neighbour’s fence posts. You’ve had worse. One time it was an enormous and very angry German Shepherd that decided to chase you out of its master’s house.
You try to swallow back the vodka-flavoured phlegm and breathe through your headache as you navigate the 6am streets, your shoes in your hand and your bag clutched to your stomach. How clichéd. Your favourite tactic for surviving what could end up being a two-hour trek is humming one of your favourite songs, coordinating your footsteps to its beat. Sure, singing ‘You Make My Dreams’ as you walk barefoot through a town does get you some funny looks, but you power through.
An elderly woman peers at you from behind her twitching curtains. You’re an alien on these streets, an unheard-of phenomenon, a life from mars. Hall and Oates is your battle cry, the markings of your mascara across your cheeks is your war paint; you must pretend you are proud of it. You walk with your head held high. You smile at that old lady. She snaps the curtain closed with a look of disgust – or is it dismay – deepening the wrinkles between her brows.
Eventually, you know where you are. You’re ten minutes away. You throw your head back with glee and begin to run, your bag swinging behind you. Climbing through the upstairs window isn’t the chore it used to be. Feet on the lid of the bin, you throw your bag and shoes onto the garage roof before swinging your body up after them. You left the bathroom window ajar, ready for your return, and you prise it open. Your bare feet are nimble as they glide across the toilet lid. You deftly land, almost catlike, on the bathmat. You breathe a sigh of relief and perform a victory dance of pride to yourself in the mirror.
Man, you love your life.