New Winslow S6E25

Cleo had always been a practical songwriter. She’d never really relied on “the muses” or divine inspiration to get what she needed. But right now, all of her usual methods were failing her.

She needed an album to go with “Pull You Back,” and it had to be written around the song itself. Alright, this was reasonable enough, especially since the song was still going, with only a little indication that it was getting fatigued on social media. But one of her other songs, a fairly deep cut from just after college, was appearing in the occasional video now. She wasn’t sure if she was more thrilled or afraid by this, but either way the boost might last just long enough for her to write this album and decide on these licensing requests. She’d signed one when everything was starting, some small online business that Jude had checked over for her. But there was a small stack of them now and every time she thought about what to do, she froze.

Another ten minutes went by and all she’d done was strum dazedly on her guitar, her mind a complete creative blank.

Fuck it, she needed a break.

The door opening provided a welcome distraction as Edie walked in, bundled up tightly against the cold. “Hi babe,” they said, setting a grocery bag down and coming over to sit next to Cleo.

They dropped onto the couch, resting their head on her shoulder. She shifted the guitar so that it was lying on her other side. “Long day?” she asked.

Edie just laughed. “The longest,” they said. “But I’m home now. And I brought dinner. There’s a new Japanese place near my work, I figured we’d have that.”

Cleo hadn’t even gotten to thinking about dinner yet and suddenly realized how hungry she was. So while Edie sat for a few minutes, she got them situated and brought the plates of food over to the table.

“How was your day?” Edie asked, daintily dipping their yellowtail roll in soy sauce.

“I was at my mom’s,” Cleo said. “Long. Quiet. Liv brought her breakfast though, so I got to see her for a little bit.”

“I’d like to see her again soon,” Edie said.

Even though they’d seemingly settled the issue, Cleo couldn’t help the apprehension she felt at the idea of bringing Edie to New Winslow. Chances were low that anything would happen. After all, people went their whole lives living there and never got hit with the curse, so it wasn’t like something was guaranteed to happen. And maybe Andrew’s family and their terrible luck was some kind of magical lightning rod that would prevent it from hitting any of the others. It wasn’t the kindest thought, but still. She could hope.

“Are you back at your mom’s tomorrow?” Edie asked. “I’ll come with you, I’m off.”

“I’m there in the morning,” Cleo replied. “Are you sure? I mean, aside from the fact that my mom is how she is, the curse could still…”

She trailed off and couldn’t help feeling a little silly despite herself as Edie shrugged. “It’s fine,” they said. “I want to see her again. How’s she doing?”

Still a little uncomfortable, but relieved to not be heading into an argument, Cleo started regaling them with the details of her day.


Going over the New Winslow line into town was never an issue. Nobody ever got bounced at the line, tossed back and made to go the long way around town. So Cleo was only half thinking about it as she drove in far too early the next morning. Her dad had been apologetic, saying he had to go to a business meeting in Worcester for eight. Cleo knew that any of her friends in town would gladly stay with her mom for a little while, and still did on occasion, but they were so busy with their shop setup and her mom got stressed if strangers were in the house. It was a bit of a risk bringing Edie, but they could always leave and come back for Cleo after if it got to be too much.

If they could leave.

Edie didn’t seem to be thinking about any of it as they drove into town. Instead, they were humming softly to the radio, a hand on Cleo’s knee as she drove.

“How’s the album going?” Edie asked as they passed Keegan’s Pub.

Cleo laughed. “It’s barely going,” she said. “I’m trying to build it around ‘Pull You Back.’ Both because I think it’s a good foundation and because I’m apparently a fucking sellout.”

Edie squeezed her knee. “Stop,” they said. “You know that’s not true.”

She sighed. “I know.”

“I agree with Andrew, by the way?” Edie continued. “Ravesi’s got it out for you.”

Cleo turned to look at them. “You read it?”

“Watch the road,” Edie said with a laugh. “I did, but it was bullshit. He’s a Lester Bangs wannabe and his opinion means nothing.”

They smiled sunnily at Cleo, who couldn’t help smiling back. “God, how are you so confident all the time?” she asked.

“All the time? I fake it. But I know my talent and I know yours too. So don’t worry about it. And let me know what you need from me to help you write.”

They were silent for a moment as they moved through the still downtown. Cleo passed the road that led to the Limerick. The others were probably there right now, weren’t they? Maybe she should stop by later and see how it was going.

“Anyway,” Edie continued. “You’re trying to write an entire album around a single song. And you’re rushing it so that you can get ahead of the social media wave. Which, knowing you, is something you’ve never done before.”

Cleo laughed and picked up her coffee where it had been steadily cooling in the center console. “You nailed it,” she said with a groan. “And it’s terrible! God, even putting all the sellout stuff aside, I’ve always written off a theme. And it’s a boundary, yeah, but it’s not like this.”

“You went to music school, right?”

“Berklee, yeah.”

“So I’m assuming you took music theory courses?”

“Once or twice.”

Edie laughed. “Think about it like composing in four-part harmony. Like a Bach chorale. It’s tight, it’s constraining. There’s all these rules that seem completely pointless. And yet, being forced to work within those rules can help you come up with something you’d never otherwise create.”

It had been at least a decade since Cleo had even thought about four-part harmony and it took some digging into the deepest recesses of her memory to remember exactly what it was. A composition consisting of four voices, with strict rules about chord progression. “I hated those assignments,” she muttered.

Edie laughed. “I loved them,” they said. “Everything I wrote was garbage, but it was fun to figure out the patterns.”

If Cleo remembered correctly, so were hers. But that was something to consider. She was pretty sure she’d left a notebook at her mom’s house, so maybe she could do some sketching while they here.




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