Life’s Music

April 24, 2024

Life ain’t always harmonious. You set out to make a beautiful melody and end up with a haunting, flat mess. But Chanel’s mother always taught her that every song has a story, and that story reveals more about the artist who wrote it, giving the listener a front-row seat to the artist’s truest self. Chanel viewed life and people that way. People aren’t replaceable, no matter how AI might be evolving. AI can’t write emphatically or hold you when tears streak your cheeks like raindrops on a car window. Chanel understood the value of people, particularly family. This was how she ended up outside this man’s door. Again.

Chanel rapped on his door for the third time. She knew he was home, but he was clearly avoiding her. This last spat almost tore them apart. From being laid off from her job and his parents’ health failing, they were at their wit’s end. Their marriage was frayed at the ends, but Chanel was determined to hold the ends together. “Ger, please open the—” Her plea was cut off by Gerald opening the door. His eyebrows were furrowed, his lip poked out. His eyes were red-rimmed and glossy. He’d been crying, something usually only reserved for funerals. 

This was a bit like a funeral, the death of who they were and who they were becoming. Chanel sighed while Gerald held the door open a bit wider for her to enter. She marched in, strengthening herself for the battle ahead. She sat on the rust-red, plush, too-expensive couch they’d bought right out of college and breathed in, reveling in the scent of time long gone. Gerald sat at the opposite end and angled his body toward her. 

“Were you serious last night? Is that really what you want?” Gerald broke the ice first, as Chanel was still hurtling through the past.

She thought. Last night, she’d been uncertain and said what she said out of fear. She wasn’t scared anymore, so her answer was clear. “No, I don’t want a divorce. I was scared of everything coming at us last night, but I don’t want to break up our team.”

Gerald nodded slowly, considering. Silence ticked on then for what felt like years. 

“We are a team,” Chanel continued. “It’s been three years, and so much has consumed what should be the later part of the honeymoon phase of our marriage. The miscarriage, my job, your family. We have to reset, find our way back to each other, and accept who we are now. Because I can say I’m not the same person I was three years ago.”

“That’s for sure.” Gerald eyed the floor. “I felt as if I was drifting away while watching my body remain on the shore. I admit, I wasn’t present for a lot of the things that happened, especially the miscarriage. I still grieve, Nelly, and it’s like you don’t want to discuss it. I understand it’s your body, but Baby B was mine, too.” 

Tears flowed so silently Chanel didn’t realize she was crying until she felt the drops collect under her chin. “I know, Ger. And I apologize for not letting you in. I didn’t know how to process those emotions myself let alone yours. Maybe we should talk more about Baby B; I think it’d help us both grieve.”

Gerald softened at her words and her tears. He saw her as the same thick-hipped vivacious young woman he met on campus that couldn’t escape his mind from the moment she first spoke. 

“Remember that playlist I made you? I had to ask James to sneak me in so I could hand deliver it to you. I didn’t care that I wouldn’t get my iPod back; I just needed you to hear how I felt,” Gerald reminisced, looking off at nothing in particular. Chanel smiled then, remembering young 20-something Gerald outside her door. She could never forget him grinning like he’d won the lottery while handing over one his most prized possessions.

She chuckled then. “Yeah, I remember. The note you left and the notes of the songs captured my heart. ‘You’re the perfect verse over a tight beat. Here’s a sample of how you make me feel. Enjoy, gorgeous.’ I put the playlist on repeat that night, and I know Lisa was sick of me by the end.”

They both shared a laugh before turning toward each other. 

“You wanted to be Andre so bad! I was really feelin’ you, though! We’ll work it out, okay? I already signed up for therapy and would love if you joined. I think this could really help us, Ger.” Gerald scooted down the rust-red too-expensive, oversized couch to wrap Chanel in an embrace. She sighed, contentedly feeling the white flag wave finally.

“You ain’t have to call me out like that. But, I’d like that, Nelly. You create the soundtrack to my life, and I’m not ready for the music to end.”


Luci Strong is a budding writer, hailing from Mississippi. Her Southern experiences and upbringing shape her writing. She loves to read romances, thrillers, and fantasy novels. When she is not reading, writing, or working in healthcare, she enjoys baking, hanging out with family and friends, and binging various TV shows (current binge: Real Housewives of Atlanta).


Featured image by Namroud Gorguis.