Back in October, I did one version of the iTunes shuffle challenge, in which I listened to iTunes on shuffle and wrote a short blurb about what each song meant to me. This time around, I’m tackling the challenge differently. I’m going to shuffle the songs, and then, I’m going to write whatever it inspires in me, and only write for the length of the song.
I ended up using thirty songs. Ten of them triggered absolutely nothing. Ten of them came up with almost nothing, with a last minute nugget of an interesting line of dialogue. I haven’t included those. But ten of these, hopefully, have some substance to them. So, onto the challenge!
1) Place for My Head by Linkin Park, Album: Hybrid Theory
“I didn’t help you because I wanted to add another favor to my belt. Unlike you, I’ve never been keeping score,” I said.
“That’s only because you could never repay what you owe me.” He spoke through gritted teeth. “Besides, I don’t count forgiveness in bullets shot. You use your weapons carelessly. You’re bound to get everyone killed.”
2) Hollywood by the Cranberries, Album: To The Faithful Departed
I stared into the mirror and willed my reflection to change, my green eyes narrowing, accenting the recently developed indentations that would soon become crow’s feet. I huffed my frustration at the inanimate object, struggling to brush my wild auburn curls into submission and gather them with a coated rubber band that would probably survive one or two uses before it popped under the pressure of the battle. I smoothed makeup over my pale and freckled skin, tried to hide all redness. I accented my eyes and lips, my good features, my only ones. I tugged my clothes around my widened form, struggling to make them sit right, like they used to, but it was no use. I sucked in lumps, smoothed, yanked, and stretched fabric, but my body wasn’t what it used to be. My glory days were gone, or at least that was what every public image would like me to believe.
3) What I’ve Done by Linkin Park, Album: Minutes to Midnight
My eyes struggled to open, but I could hear things through the fog of my brain. A page turning. A bit of shuffling. I couldn’t understand it. I was asleep and there was someone there with me. I lived alone, but I couldn’t seem to peel my eyes open to see who it was. I was too weak. I drifted away again…
Finally, my eyes opened. I was looking around the room before I even realized I was awake. Sterile white surrounded me. I was covered in layers of stiff sheets, and I stared out at a white board with a smiley face and a few names written across it in red ink. And a sharps disposal container. A hospital room.
“Hey, you’re awake!”
I rolled over to see who had spoken and groaned in pain. My entire body ached.
4) Swallowed in the Sea by Coldplay, Album: X&Y
My heart stopped as she shimmered into existence, an ethereal presence from another world. Her face was so familiar, my heart hurt.
5) Mary Jane by Alanis Morissette, Album: Jagged Little Pill
I stared out at the street below my window, my eyes heavy-lidded from the hours of crying the night before. My eyes couldn’t seem to find the tears anymore, but my head felt heavy with them, and I could barely hold it up without resting it on my chin.
Out on the street, I saw our neighbors walking their dogs like they did every morning. The few children that lived on the city street headed off to school, shuffled along by harried professional parents with somewhere else they had to be after this, checking their watches and their cell phones as if they were ticking time bombs counting down to the end. As if being late to work were so important that they didn’t even notice the children in front of them.
I would have noticed.
I ran a hand over my stomach, already flattening, as my eyes found the tears they had been searching for.
6) Every Night by Imagine Dragons, Album: Night Visions
I trudged into the house, my bones aching from a night of battle and my soul drained from using my abilities so indiscriminately.
It was shockingly quiet. Quieter than I was expecting, with a new baby that was used to having her Mommy home with her. I made my way up the stairs and over to our room. The door was wide open, the light was on, and I found my brother standing in front of the door, a fond smile on his face.
“Did she give you guys any trouble?” I asked.
He didn’t say a word, just nodded toward the door.
7) I Will Buy You a New Life by Everclear, Album: So Much For The Afterglow
I stuffed the bills into my mother’s hand, roughly. “Pay the bills.” I pushed past her and made my way to where Marty lay, staring out the window into the sun, his eyes squinting slightly, as though they barely felt the burn.
I didn’t blame him anymore. At some point between my teenage years and now, I had grown to accept that something in my brother had snapped. He was not well. His brain had made him believe I was something I wasn’t, and he had acted out in violence against me.
Now, I blamed my mother. For not believing me, for blaming me, for refusing to get him help, for believing it would all just get better, like schizophrenia just disappears, like suddenly the world would get set right, and my little brother would wake up one morning with no voices, no paranoia, no hallucinations, no fear.
That day never came.
“Blink, Farty Marty. Your corneas will thank you.”
He looked away from the window and smiled.
8) In Between by Linkin Park, Album: Minutes to Midnight
The rain started slowly, but by the time she’d gotten out far enough into the woods, it pelted her, soaking into her jeans, beading on her jacket and filling her boots. Her feet slid in the mud as she moved, purposefully towards the only place she could go. Their spot.
When she got there, she almost couldn’t see through the deluge, her soaked hair hanging in her eyes, blocking her view. She squinted past raindrops to make sure she was truly seeing what was there.
He had destroyed it. It was gone.
“I wanted to tell you the other day,” he said, his voice suddenly over her shoulder, and she started.
Damn her for not paying attention. Damn him for following her out here so he could watch her find this.
9) Your Star by Evanescence, Album: The Open Door
His hands clenched and unclenched as he stood, facing the open land before him. I could practically hear his mind racing. I stepped forward, wrapping an arm around him and resting my chin on his shoulder. He leaned into the embrace, his head bumping mine.
“What if the world ends?” he asked. “What if my choices ruin everything? What if we can’t fix it?”
I tried for a smile. I was scared too, but I didn’t have the luxury of that right now. “Well, that would be unacceptable, my love. We’ll just have to rebuild it.”
10) Mr. Brightside by The Killers, Album:
“This is what I’ve been meant to do,” he explained to me, his eyes wide, his nervous energy practically leaping from him. “My purpose. I finally understand why I can do these things, what makes me special, and you want me to give that away?”
BONUS: Single by Natasha Bedingfield, Album: Unwritten
“What is the big deal about all of this anyway?” I asked, fed up with Val and all of her gushy love talk. Based on what I’d just been through, it was a struggle not to punch her in her smiling, glowing face. “You only get to be this happy for a limited time.”
Okay folks, that’s it. Leave feedback on these. What did you like? What didn’t you? Would you like to try this challenge? Definitely chat with me in the comments!