New Winslow S4E25

When Cleo had been in music school, she’d always struggled with lyrics over melodies. A lot of times, she would have a full melody finished before she’d even started considering lyrics. Her professors had been patient with her, but a few had made some pointed comments that if she wanted to focus on songwriting, she needed to polish all the elements of songwriting before she graduated. And she’d worked at it, spending hours analyzing the lyrics to songs she loved and songs she hated. It was still something that helped her own process and she’d neglected it just as much as she’d neglected playing guitar during the months where she was desperately trying to stay afloat.

That song from the other night, the one she’d named Nowhere and Everywhere, had come naturally to a point. But Cleo knew that her usual process didn’t rely on muses coming down from heaven to hand her the songs. And a lot of times she needed to spend time digging deeply into other songwriters’ work in order to make hers successful. So here she was, sitting in the sunlight in the living room, taking notes on printed song lyrics as she sipped a glass of water.

The song she’d printed out wasn’t great. In fact, every time she heard it on the radio it made her cringe a little. But it was popular and there was a lot of wordplay in it. So it was at least worth glancing over before she went onto the stack of lyrics that were more similar to her own. Sometimes even looking at something and realizing why she hated it was enough to spark something that fit her better. So this wasn’t a waste of time as long as she didn’t get too wrapped up in the negatives.

After a few minutes, it was getting difficult not to get wrapped up in those negatives, and Cleo wasn’t having any revelations. So she got up from her chair and stretched, her knees cracking as she stood.

Edie had just left for work a little while ago, leaving Cleo alone in the apartment for the day. She had intentionally taken today off at Edie’s urging. The bills were paid, and she’d already worked a full week. It was harder to get back into the mindset of taking days off than Cleo had anticipated it would be. Even when she knew their bills were paid, she still felt edgy, like she should be out there doing more. Edie had finally called her out on it last night when she was debating whether or not to pick up a delivery shift today. So now she was apparently on a mini-vacation from work as well as from New Winslow.

Cleo wasn’t going to think about New Winslow. This was something she was doing on purpose for herself. And it was also at the urging of someone who loved her and wanted her to be healthy. So instead of letting her thoughts spiral into everything that stressed her out in the world, she was going to get a fresh cup of tea and go outside to take in a little bit of crisp autumn air before she got back to work.

It was still a little strange to be in the apartment by herself. Thinking of it as both of their apartment had gotten easier over the past few weeks, especially when Cleo’s things were finally unpacked. And when they were both home, things felt normal. But Cleo was so rarely alone in the apartment that when she was, she felt like an intruder. And she knew exactly what Edie’s opinion of that feeling would be, so she kept it to herself.

A few minutes later, fresh tea in hand, Cleo stepped out onto the tiny deck off of the kitchen. As she leaned against the railing, she sipped her tea and watched as a few cars drove past on the little side road that passed their house. There were a couple of other buildings on their street, including another multi family home like theirs. But most of it was taken up by the fences blocking off the industrial property a few lots away. It was painfully ugly, even with the brilliance of the autumn leaves around it.

She took a sip of her tea and looked down toward the other end of the street. This way it was mostly trees, which was definitely a better view. Maybe when they bought the little deck chairs Edie had been eyeing, they could angle them awkwardly in order to face that way instead.

A sharp wind cut through the steam curling off of her mug. Cleo wasn’t dressed for the cold, so she’d go inside in a few minutes. But she wanted a little longer out here. Then she’d go back inside and try to get herself inspired again.

Inspiration through analysis wasn’t the sexiest way of creating art. She knew that. And she could almost hear some of the comments if she publicly talked about it. She already got enough calling her a sell-out or a poser, which shouldn’t hurt in her mid-thirties but still did. But it worked for her and people seemed to enjoy her music, so she wasn’t about to change something that was working.

The next gust of wind was almost painful. So Cleo reluctantly turned and went back inside, sliding the door closed behind her. Having a deck was really nice, she had to admit that. So was the front porch, though they shared that with the elderly landlord who lived downstairs. This house and this city weren’t at all what Cleo wanted for her future, but it would work in the meantime. Maybe later she and Edie could discuss what they really wanted.

And it was convenient for her obligations in New Winslow. Which she absolutely wasn’t going to think about right now. So instead, Cleo set her mug on the counter and went back into the living room. Momentarily ignoring the papers scattered on the couch, she picked up her guitar and began strumming a few absent chords as she sat back down.


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