Friday, February 12, 2010

Silly Love Songs

("The Knife Thrower," from Matisse's Jazz series)

“Your hands are cold.”

“Your thigh is warm.”

“No thanks to those penguin fingers of yours.”

“Um . . .”


“Never mind.”

“That's what I thought.”

“It's just that, if you'll notice, my penguin—fingers—was it?”

“Keep it up.”

“Are now folded neatly in my lap.”

“The other penguins, in their other penguin cars, thank you for considering their safety. I'm driving here.”

“Of course . . .”

“Out with it.”

“It's Valentine's Day.”


“And you're wearing that dress. With those heels. And . . . stockings.”


“And it's Valentine's Day.”

“You said that already.”

“And I've fallen in love with you, Jenny.”

The car swerved across the dashed line.

“I'll say it again if you like. It's always been a dream of mine to die in an old Impala.”

Her lips twitched.

“I love you, Jenny. And not because it's Valentine's Day. And not for the stockings, either.”

Her mouth opened. Then shut.

“Christ, I don't know why. The why's not really the thing, is it? I just do. I'm like a teenager again. This entire month.” He shifted in his seat. “It's disgusting, really.”

She drove. He watched her face, illuminated by headlights, from the corner of his eye. Those lips still dancing.

Finally, she cleared her throat.



“My thigh is hot. Not warm.”

“No argument here.”

“No, I mean it's stupidly hot. I think I'm on the verge of spontaneous combustion, or something.”

“Oh. We can't have that.”

“No. We can't.”

His fingers grazed black silk. And climbed the sheer. Until they met with an unexpected ridge. Elastic. One inch, and a mile, across—

From rose petal skin.

“God. I think I lied. Before.”

“I know. You love me for these stockings.”

“A little.”

“It's okay. I wore them for you.”

“You did? I mean, I know.”

“Now you listen.”


“I'm going to pull off the road up here.”


“Because this is my kick-ass '78 Impala.”

“They really don't make them like this anymore.”

“With a backseat the size of a bed.”

“I love this fucking car.”

“And that's my glove compartment.”

“Also really great.”

“With my mixed tape for you inside.”

He flipped it open with his free hand.

“That I made for you the day after we met.”

He plucked out a cassette.

“Because I'm a silly, silly girl.”

He smiled at the first title.

“Whose knees are shaking.”

He looked at her, looking at him.

She slid deeper into his hand.

“And you're the guy who makes me believe in love songs again.”


Susan Deborah said...

How nice and tender. You know I felt like reading a romance back from my teenage days. And Jenny reminded me of Jenny from 'Forrest Gump.'

I liked the picture. What does it signify?

Happy Valentines day dear Sarah.

Joy always,

Sarah Hina said...

Susan, I hadn't written a fun, romantic exchange in awhile, so I'm glad you enjoyed it. And I did intend for the scene to be a throwback of sorts, for an older couple new to love again.

The art is a cut-out from Matisse's Jazz series. It holds a bright anticipation to my a breath before the climactic note. :)

Happy Valentine's Day to you, too! And thank you for your comments, Susan.

the walking man said...

Was captured by the exchange and could see a "collector" in his built Impala. '78's were boats you could make scream with a Corvette engine and the right rear end.

Hmmmm maybe I should have made more mix tapes to see if the back seat really was roomy. Naww I enjoyed driving it to much, I gave her chocolate instead.

Enjoy your & your old man's well earned week end Sarah.

Nevine said...

Well, Sarah. What have I always said to you about dialogue? I so hate to repeat myself, but you just do it so amazingly well. I'm particularly amazed, in this piece, by your ability to bring small flashes of their setting into their dialogue. That leaves the focus on what they're saying, rather than shifting the focus to description and taking us away from their conversation, which is so very delicious. And delicious it truly is... They may not be teenagers anymore, but then, do teenagers really know about love? Well, maybe sometimes they do... And as far as I'm concerned, there's nothing more irresistible than a man with a fetish for stockings! I mean, all the fun you can have... my mind is wandering, Sarah. But you always leave us with so much to think about, because you always write with such focus and yet sparseness. You give us room to fill in some of our own gaps. And that suits me just fine! :-)

A beautiful and tender and hot piece... and just perfect for Valentine's.

Oh, and "My Funny Valentine" has to be one of the most poetic and most lovely songs of all time. And I have to admit I've heard many versions, but I'd never heard this one. It was haunting and longing and perfect in its quietness. So complimentary to your writing style.


Nevine said...

Oh me, I got carried away with my dreams... And I forgot to wish you and your dearest Paul a beautiful Valentine's Day. Happy Valentine's to Sarah and Paul, and your little lovely angels, as well!


The romantic query letter and the happy-ever-after said...

Elegant, well written an absolute perfection.
Warm regards and a Happy Valentines Day.

Anonymous said...

Sarah, this is most excellent. I happen to love stories with all or mostly all dialogue. You know how to keep the story going without much narrative.

the verification word is eatogica :)

joaquin carvel said...

that was delicious. stockings and a '78 impala - now that there is lady to get to know.

it definitely has that teenage feel, but the two of them are too sharp-eyed to be teenagers - love how the sweetness of the mix tape is salted with her self-assurance - and like nevine said, what you do with dialouge is amazing.

and of course - of all the artists who have sung that song, who can hold a candle to chet? (ok, maybe ella. maybe.)

Aniket said...

I love silly, silly girls. :)

This was such lovingly playful. Gosh. I miss those mixed-tape days. :P

Thank you so much for this.

Sarah Hina said...

Mark, I know very little about cars, but I learned to drive on my parents' '73 LTD, and that backseat was awesome. Roominess is very important in high school...and sometimes, if we're lucky, beyond. :)

Thanks for the good wishes! I hope your weekend was great, too.

Nevine, I think you'd love Chet Baker! He just might be my favorite male vocalist. So intimate...I always feel like he's whispering (okay, singing) right in my ear.

Thank you for your very kind words about this vignette, and especially, the dialogue. Over the last couple years, I've become a fan of "less is more" with conversational pieces. I love having that faith in the reader to build the scene. Especially when it's a reader as perceptive and imaginative as you! (And if it's possible to have a fetish for a man who has a fetish for stockings, then I plead oh-so-guilty.)

Valentine's Day was lovely for all of us, and I hope yours was, too. :)

Romantic query letter, thank you so much for stopping by here, and for those warm wishes. They're very appreciated.

Wiredwriter, I almost feel guilty taking compliments for dialogue pieces, because I inevitably begin them out of laziness! It's so nice to strip away all the filler, and just let those voices tell the story. Thank you so much for letting me know it worked for you. :)

Joaquin, I hoped with the old car and the old technology (mixed tapes--how I miss them!) to recapture some sense of innocence for a couple willing to dig a little to uncover it. I'm happy if the piece succeeded in that. Thank you.

(in my mind, this is Chet's song for all eternity, but Ella always has me bewitched, bothered, and bewildered. :) )

Aniket, I thought you might get a kick out of this one. You're very welcome. :)

Digital technology is great and all, but I miss writing those track listings. And then smudging them. ;)

catvibe said...

Oh I LOVE this! Yum yum yum! I wish I could say this would ever happen again, but I think I'll only be able to relive this kind of thing through writings like this delectable piece of chocolate! Did I say yum? Yum!

The Quizzical Observer said...

See, this is why it's fun wandering round the blogosphere almost at random - stumbling across unexpected pleasures. I really enjoyed this brief encounter; it's not easy to achieve such lightness of touch.

Sarah Hina said...

Cat, I'm glad you found this to be a tasty little morsel. :) Your reaction gave me a smile! "Yum" is exactly what I hoped for.

The Quizzical Observer, I'm happy you wandered over here! And thank you very much for the kind comment. A light touch is always desired where romance is concerned.

Vesper said...

Sarah, this is adorable, and hot, and everything that it should be. Thank you for a melting moment...

Jennifer said...

Sarah, I love these two! I think that what I mostly like is the way he handles her--the calmness, dry humor. I think he plays it just right, especially here:

"I'll say it again if you like. It's always been a dream of mine to die in an old Impala.”

Perfect line.

You had me rooting for him and for the thaw that materializes. :)

Hope you are well!

Sarah Hina said...

Vesper, I love turning up the heat when I can. :) Thank you, my friend.

Jennifer, it's good to see you again! I'm doing well, except for this neverending winter. :) I hope you are, too.

I love a dry, understated humor. It gets me every time. So thank you so much for letting me know that worked for you, too!