I’m throwing my hat in the ring again for the weekly Tipsy Lit Writing Challenge. The stories are all excellent, week after week. My hope is that you’ll read my story and it will earn you vote. Polls open first thing Saturday morning and remain open until Sunday morning. Please take a moment to vote; the competition has been fierce each week… real nail biters! IF you like my story, Please VOTE FOR IT HERE.
This week’s prompt was very interesting and extremely challenging: “Someone has become convinced they are a character in your latest fiction project. In story, tell us who are they and how does that belief affect their life in the ‘real’ world? (if you don’t have a latest fiction project, use a character from the book you are currently reading)”
Stories should be 1,500 words and address the prompt provided. I’m not working on a piece of fiction right now that would apply, nor am I reading anything. I emailed Wendy, who does a wonderful job of providing these weekly prompts and told her I’d like to use a song, as most songs are works of fiction. As soon as she enthusiastically gave me the OK, the song came to mind. I’m using Prince’s Raspberry Beret, released in 1985. It’s a classic, so hopefully most of you are familiar with it. If not, I’ve provided the music video a the end of this story.
Someday My Prince Will Come
The spring weather was unusually warm, and as Gigi got in her car she opened the sunroof and turned on the radio. When she merged onto the highway, Flashback 80s was playing, and Gigi felt excited. She’d waited all week for this lunch date with her best friend, Sharon. They were planning to meet down by the water and then drive along the coast after lunch. It would be a kids-and-husbands-free day, spent catching up and enjoying the great weather.
“Hold me now, warm my heart, Stay with me, let loving start, let loving start…” Gigi sang along, speeding towards the coast.
Gigi loved music from her youth. These songs took her back to a simpler, when life seemed filled with options and potential. She’d been married for twenty-two years now; her kids were nearly as old as she’d been when this song came out, but Gigi felt like a young girl again when this music was on, and she could take off in her car.
She exited the highway for the coast road and turned the volume up as The Talking Heads wailed “Burning down the house!” She pumped her hand in the air, singing louder. However, just as the restaurant came into view the classic guitar opening to Prince’s Raspberry Beret came on. Gigi felt the familiar lump in her throat and her hands became clammy.
“That’s when I saw her, Ooh, I saw her
She walked in through the out door, out door
She wore a–”
Gigi slammed the stereo button off, but it was too late. The song was in her head again, and she was furious.
As she pulled up to the restaurant, she tried to breathe deeply and get her emotions back in check, but her mood had already shifted. She glanced in the rearview mirror as she fixed her hair and applied some fresh lipstick. Just breathe, she thought.
Gigi grabbed her purse and went into the restaurant, glancing around for her friend Sharon, trying to look normal. Sitting on the deck, Sharon waved and Gigi felt a wave of relief to see her good friend. She and Sharon had been friends since they were in college; Sharon knew her better than anyone. They embraced as Gigi reached the table, and Sharon spoke first.
“Hey girl! You look great; have you lost weight?”
They laughed. The subject of weight loss had long been a joke between them, something their mothers would always focus on, and consequently something Sharon and Gigi had made their go-to greeting.
“Girlfriend, you know it!” Gigi did a playful shimmy, but her frown remained.
She sat down and took in the sparkling water and crowded beach. The smell of fried seafood filled the air, as she sipped the daiquiri Sharon had ordered, and watched a group of teenagers play Frisbee. Her thoughts darted. “Raspberry beret, The kind you find in a second-hand store–”
“Hey! Gigi! Where are you?”
Gigi turned; Sharon looked expectant.
“I’m sorry. My mind’s wandering. I heard the song just as I was pulling up; it just shakes me up, you know?”
Sharon tried to bite her tongue, but couldn’t.
“Seriously? That, again? Jesus, Gigi! It’s been nearly thirty years and you’re still stewing over that stupid song!”
Sharon’s rebuke struck home, and Gigi felt her emotions rev up again.
“I can’t help it Sharon, every time I hear that damned song–” She lowered her voice and looked around the waterfront deck. “I feel like everyone’s looking at me.”
“No one’s looking at you, it’s a song for God’s sake! Let it go.” Sharon rolled her eyes.
“That’s easy for you to say. Every time I hear it, I want to scream! Seriously.”
Gigi’s unconsciously gnarled her hands into fists. After all of these years, it still drove her nuts that even her best friend doubted her.
“Look Sharon, you just don’t get what it’s like to be the girl in that song, and feel like everyone is always imagining you that way.”
“What way? The song is nearly thirty years old– to be honest, I’m not sure anyone ever thought that.”
Gigi felt her face flush.
“Don’t get mad at me Gigi, really. I’m just trying to be honest here. Just because you knew Prince before he was Prince– or whatever the hell he calls himself these days, doesn’t mean he’s singing about you. And who cares; it’s just a song!”
“It’s not just a song! It totally messed my life up when it came out, and it’s followed me ever since. People think I’m easy because of that song; they think I just whore around in barns and dress in stupid hats. I only wore that damned beret once, and for the record, it was new, not ‘second-hand, and it was blue, not raspberry!”
Gigi glanced around the restaurant nervously, aware that people could hear her raising her voice. She self-consciously pushed her hair behind her ear and tried to lower her voice again, afraid that others would recognize her.
“Look, I hardly knew the guy and he writes this song about us having sex in a barn, and me dressing like a slut… ‘And when it was warm, she didn’t wear much more–’ I mean what the hell is that suppose to mean? How the hell does wearing shorts and t-shirt in summer, make me easy?”
“Gigi, calm down. I get that this really bothers you, but I think it’s been long enough that you should be able to let it go now.” Sharon picked up a fry and tried to bring some humor back to the situation. “Who is Prince anyway? I mean what kind of name is that? And he’s nearly sixty now! No one remembers that he grew up in Minnesota, or who he dated then? You can’t let this bother you every time that song comes on the radio, forever! It hardly plays anymore!”
“Sharon, you just don’t get it. I was a seventeen year old girl, just doing my own thing– I mean, who hasn’t walked in through an out door once in their life? Is that song worthy? Really? And I never did anything in a barn with him, except clean out Mr. McGee’s cow stalls. We both hated it; the smell was horrible!”
Gigi took another sip of her drink and watched her friend, aware that Sharon was trying to be supportive, but didn’t really believe her.
“Look, I know everyone thinks I screwed Prince in a barn, with rain on the roof, but I’m telling you the truth: we did not have sex. Sure, I accepted a ride from him, once! He had that beat up VW, not that slick motorcycle in the video! I didn’t want to walk, but I didn’t think he’d make that into a song for God’s sake!”
“Gigi, you’re getting so upset. It’s just a song!
“It’s not just a song, Sharon; stop saying that! That song has followed me for most of my life. I can’t even wear a hat without worrying about someone saying something. I can tell that people think I’m actually not ‘too bright.’ And I not only wasn’t his first, I didn’t do anything with him!”
Sharon rolled her eyes.
“I’m serious! When I’m out and that song comes on, I know people expect me to be the girl in the song, and I’m just a wife and mother! I don’t wear a raspberry beret; I never have. That stupid song makes people think I’m someone I’m not.”
The waitress approached the table, clearly wary of the conversation that had spilled beyond the table.
“Is everything ok, here? Can I get you ladies anything else?”
“No; thanks. We’ll just take the check.” Sharon jumped in before Gigi could order another daiquiri, and get any more emotional about the whole thing.
Sharon loved Gigi. They’d been friends forever. Sharon was Gigi’s oldest daughter’s Godmother, and had introduced Gigi to her husband Mark. She’d heard the Raspberry Beret story a million times; it had gotten old in 1989. This paranoia that Prince had fallen in love with her and written an entire son about her had been the prevailing issue in Gigi’s life for far too long, but Sharon had long accepted that there was no convincing Gigi that it was in her head. The best approach was avoidance: change the subject, avoid the radio. Why Gigi preferred listening to Flashback 80s would always be a mystery to Sharon. It always led to misery. Her Prince was always be waiting in the next song.
“Come on girlfriend. Let’s forget about this for a while and hit the road. The skies getting a little gray; let’s take that drive before the weather changes.”
They both got in Gigi’s car, and as they pulled out of the parking lot, Sharon fiddled with the radio controls and settled on a song by The Cure.
“Show me, show me, show me, how you do that trick, the one that makes me scream she said, The one that makes me laugh she said, She threw her arms around my neck.”
As the coastal breeze came through the open sunroof, they both sang with abandon. Sharon glanced at Gigi– her face happy again. Sharon had to admit, something about the clouds and her mixed.