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 Song and Remembrance

A short story by Maren Garn
Based on “Kayleigh” by Marillion


Beep “… the next song is for Anna from Thomas”, the radio blurted.

Andrew opened his eyes and tiredly tried to remember where he was, since it was still pitch black in the room.

“…do you remember dawn escapes from moon washed college halls…”.

He groaned. This definitely wasn’t the song he wanted to wake up to. Just as this thought registered in his brain, his body took action and his hand hit the off-button on the radio. Andrew fell back into his pillows and closed his eyes again. Slowly, memory returned and he realized that the room was dark because he was in this weird hotel with the horrid, thick, dark green velvet curtains that did not let in even the slightest sliver of light. He had stayed up long with the guys from the New York affiliate and maybe had had a drink or two too many, but the successful amalgamation of two companies he and his colleagues had accomplished had demanded a celebration.

Sighing, he got up and felt his way to the window, or the direction he thought he remembered the window to be. After some groping, Andrew managed to open the curtains and winced when the New York sunrise hit his eyes.

Beep “I just can’t go on pretending that it came to a natural end…”.

“Oh, shut the fuck up you …” muttering under his breath, Andrew went back to the bed and hit the off button again; and a third time for good measure. He also pulled the plug, just to be on the safe side; he’d never much liked to wake up to music, anyway. Next time, he would ask for a wake-up service.

Humming softly, he went to the bathroom and looked into the mirror.

“Not too bad for a thirty-five year old, I’d say” he thought, grinning. Still humming, he took a shower, brushed his teeth and shaved. He looked a bit disheveled, but he would be on the plane back to London in a few hours anyway, so he didn’t much care. And women were supposed to like a roguish look, or at least that was what all the magazines said. Not that he could complain about the amount and nature of attention women paid him. Chuckling he went back into the bedroom, packed and went down to the lobby to deposit his luggage and then break his fast.

Andrew entered the dining-hall and looked around the spacious room. The waiters were still preparing the breakfast tables, placing dishes and silverware on the white tablecloths – silent, elegant ghosts that were expected not to be heard or seen, unless a guest needed their assistance, they moved about the room efficiently. Andrew sat down in a corner, he was the only guest down here at this hour, and when his gaze moved across the nearly empty room, he remembered his college days, when he had had an early breakfast after sneaking back in from the girl’s dormitory. Realizing he was still humming, Andrew stopped short and silently cursed the Thomas whoever with his song to Anna. What had he been thinking, humming “Kayleigh” all the time? No wonder this room reminded him of his younger self, it had been “their” song, after all. Andrew beckoned a waitress and decided to focus on the business of ordering breakfast. If only the girl didn’t have Dany’s hair-color he might have succeeded.

Beep “… the next song is for Anna from Thomas”, the radio blurted.

She sat up, yawned and rubbed her tired eyes. She had been writing until late in the night to finish her article on the new traffic policy in New York for The Times, and afterwards she hadn’t been able to sleep.

“…do you remember dawn escapes from moon washed college halls…”.

She traipsed over to the window and looked out, New York from high above and early in the morning was actually quite beautiful. Not as beautiful as London, of course, but if she was a bird, Dany could even imagine living in the air above the big city. From up here, you couldn’t see the traffic that would jam the streets even at this early hour, and she remembered with horror that she would have to get to the airport in a few hours. Well, that was what cabs were for, wasn’t it?

Lost in thought, she went to the bathroom and filled the tub with hot water.

“That’s exactly what I need after a night without sleep", she sighed and took some of the soft white towels from the shelf. Dany hated to spend time in hotels, they always were so anonymous and … cold. You paid a lot of money for a room that wouldn’t remember you the minute you left it. Hell, you yourself had a hard time finding the room again; that was probably why they all had the over-sized golden numbers on the doors that even a blind man could see.

“Do you remember barefoot on the lawn with shooting stars…”, Dany sang in tune with the music. Yes, that was where she would prefer to be. That was where she had been when she was younger; smiling sadly to herself, she went into the bedroom and turned off the radio. She wondered why she still had to remember the old days as she sank into the hot water and closed her eyes.

They had known each other for years, had been neighbors as kids and gone to high-school together. It had been the night of the prom, when Andrew and she had fled from their classmates boisterous exclamations of their expected future. Laughing, they had run down the streets until they reached the vacant Victorian mansion Dany had always dreamt of buying once she had the money. They had slipped through a breach in the fence and into the extensive gardens surrounded by huge hedges. Embracing, Andrew and she had tumbled into the grass merrily, ignoring their festive wardrobe and then had lain there, staring up into the clear sky. It had been a starry night, a warm breeze caressing their skin and whispering through the old trees. Dany had felt like living a fairy tale, and on seeing her first shooting star had closed her eyes in the fervent wish that this night would never end.

She ducked under one last time and got out of the tub, toweling herself dry. Well, it had ended, and that was it. Or was it? She wondered.

Andrew paid the cab driver and walked through the automatic doors into the terminal. Mumbling excuses he pushed his way through the crowds near the check-in counters and lined up at the end of the queue. He dutifully smiled at the attendant who checked in his luggage and told him his seat number, then turned away and looked for the sign that would tell him where to find the business lounge. Maybe he would even meet someone he knew there, Andrew hoped. Everything to busy his thoughts with something other than Dany and the way they had broken up five years ago. Andrew didn’t usually believe in portents but today everything seemed bound to remind him what a cad he had been. First, there was the song in the radio, the one that seemed to be all about them, he still remembered the stunned look in her face, a look that must have mirrored his own, when they had heard the song for the first time. As if that wasn’t enough, the waitress had hair the same shade of red as Dany’s, the cab driver seemed to make a detour just to vex him by passing a playground that looked much like the one he and Dany had spent so much time at when they were kids - the playground where they had drawn their initials in chalk on the wall.

“This is enough now. She wouldn’t want you back even if you were to beg her, not after all these years, not after what happened, and you know it”, Andrew scolded himself. He finally arrived at the lounge, got himself some coffee and sat down in one of the comfortable leather chairs with a pile of today’s newspapers on a table nearby. Staring blindly at the cover of The Times he sipped his coffee and wondered what was wrong with him. He had chosen this life, hadn’t he, when he enrolled in law-school to become one of the best economic counselors in London – and he had succeeded. Still, his time with Dany had been great; they had had so much fun. They had been so close that often they knew what the other was thinking before they voiced it. At least it had been that way until he graduated from law-school and went to the U.S. on an internship with a big company. He had met so many fascinating people, and women, that he often forgot about Dany and his life in London. Then, one time she came for a visit, he had neglected her, and she had left a week early. After that, she hadn’t called him in San Francisco anymore - and when he was back home, he had seen her in a restaurant with some stranger, holding hands and laughing softly. She had ignored him then, and Andrew had decided to ignore the pain it had caused him. He had ignored it for the last five years, he realized.

“This is the last and final call for Mr. Andrew Mathews, please proceed to the gate immediately”

Damn, and now he was almost missing his plane.

Dany got out of the cab and breathed in deeply. It felt good to be home. She looked around her and smiled when she saw the cherry trees in full bloom across the street. During the flight, she couldn’t shake lose the memories the song had awakened, and she was humming the melody on the way up to her apartment. Angie, the cat she had gotten five years ago, greeted her, mewing and rubbing her head against Dany’s leg.

“Now, my little one, did Ms. O’Connell treat you well? Did she give you enough food while I was away?” Dany asked. Dropping her trunk and picking up the cat, she went into the living room and made herself comfortable on the chaise. The flight had been tiring, Dany could never sleep on long distance flights; she loved to look out of the small, oval window and watch the white fluffy clouds from above. Sometimes she imagined what it would feel like to lie down on a cumulonimbus; Dany believed it would be like falling into eiderdown, giving under her weight and immediately closing around her body comfortingly, like an embrace. She giggled, and with that silly thought in mind got up and put a CD in the stereo, pushed the forward button a couple of times, hit repeat track and pumped up the volume. If she was thinking about Andrew anyway, she could as well listen to “their” song. After all, her day had started that way, so why shouldn’t it end in the same vein?

Back on the sofa, Dany closed her eyes and lost herself in reminiscence of days long gone.

The first time they had heard the song on the radio it had been January, they had been sitting in a pub, preparing to leave for their favorite club when “Kayleigh” sounded from the speakers. She had been transfixed, and Andrew seemed to be in the same state. Staring at each other, they had listened and smiled and then left the pub arm in arm, walking aimlessly through the snowy streets. They had passed the park south of Belsize Road when Andrew had drawn her closer, looked into her eyes and asked her for a dance. “We had another kind of dance here this summer, but if this song is about us…” he had murmured, and with a kiss drawn her into a waltz. Dany sighed with the memory of that night, she had forgotten all about the good and magic times they had had together. She knew why that had happened, of course. Andrew had begun to change at law-school, and later, when he ignored her in San Francisco, always meeting with his new friends, and with women she guessed couldn’t wait to get him alone in a room, she had left, packed and taken the first flight to London. He just hadn’t seemed to be interested in her anymore, nor in them - his talk had revolved around business and the company all the time. Andrew had broken her heart all these years ago, and she had tried so hard to mend it again – she had dated and flirted with other men, but when she had seen him watching her one night, seen the hurt and lost look on his face, she had bought a cat instead. He had hurt her, but she hadn’t intended hurting him. Dany buried her face in Angie’s soft fur and cuddled the cat when the phone rang. No one called her this late; no one even knew she had returned to London today.

Absentmindedly, she picked up the receiver and nearly dropped it when a male voice at the other end said “So, you are listening to it as well…”

Maren Garn



Textgrundlage"Song and Remembrance",
©Maren Garn

Logo 123: "Blühender Bauerngarten", Lovis Corith,
 EJ: 1904, gemeinfrei,

Aufbewahrung: Wiesbaden, Museum
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