Embrace

The Rip Tide – Beirut <— Click here to listen to the accompanying song.

Four sisters run ahead of their parents, giving each other piggy backs until they’re out of sight. It was a tradition to go for these walks, up onto the cliffs of the Isle of Wight and further along. 

Laughing and shrieking, the girls barely look where they’re walking as they head through the bare trees towards the cliffs. Their faces are ablaze with smiles, heads thrown back with bellowing laughter. The youngest one trails behind slightly, collecting rocks, laughing along when the others do.

They are high up now; they stand behind a barrier which embraces them, protecting them from the cold dark cliff face that falls away beneath them.

One of the girls climbs over the barrier with that same mischievous grin she always wears; her straggly hair flies about her face.

Her eyes are wild like the wind that almost knocks her over; but she fights against it, and begins to make her way tantalizingly slowly towards the edge.

Her sister, the older one, cries out with nervous laughter, telling her to stop and come back. She carries on, deaf to the noise of disapproval.

She doesn’t care. She doesn’t care about anything.

Slowly she edges closer; she can see the waves crashing against the bay, eroding it and turning it to nothing. There’s a second when she thinks about jumping – but she doesn’t. 

Instead, now at the very edge of the cliff rock, she pushes her dirty hands against it and gradually begins to rise to her feet.

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Up and up she goes until – she’s made it. She looks out at the world which stretches wider and wider in front of her, a never-ending horizon. Her life falls away below her feet, as fragile as the crumbling rock face that mocks her insignificance. She is breathless, taken aback by the beauty of it all. Shaking legs threaten to give her away but she is intoxicated by the grandness, and how small she is in comparison.

She stretches her arms out wide, as wide as the earth itself, and cries out in bittersweet joy. She’s embracing everything and nothing at the same time.

Her sisters voices are disappearing into the background now; their shouts have become part of the wind, part of the ebbing tide of life that washes over her like the waves below.

She could have been there for a minute or an hour, she didn’t know. Captivated by the universe, she walked home a little behind her sisters with glazed eyes, dreaming of foreign lands and uncharted oceans.

 

Written by Katie Harrower

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Club Oblivion

‘Say It Again’ -KINGDM <— Click here for accompanying song

The liquor hits, like liquid confidence racing through your veins. Your thudding heart pounds in sync with your steps on the uneven pavement, each one bringing you closer to oblivion. 

You turn your head to exchange a grin with your chosen partner for this evening, linking arms to seal a contract of mischief and promise. The thudding music of the nightclub snakes around your waist, pulling you closer towards the dark and gaping entrance with an invisible and unbreakable thread.

You feel like one of those popular girls in the slow motion montage in the cheesy movie, the world slowing down to revolve in your wake. Stares slide off your exposed back like an oil slick.

You clutch your glass and let the golden bubbles scorch your throat as you tip your head back, swallowing the contents whole. The siren song of the dance floor becomes impossible to ignore as you snake your way through the crowd.20526535_1607937349228834_106421323_n

Eyes closed, arms raised in abandonment, the beat takes over your soul as you sway to the rhythm. Sweat drips as that smile curves on your lips involuntarily. This is the rush of ecstasy that you constantly crave

 

The music builds and builds becoming more and more desperate. You open your eyes and find the faces of the crowd melting in their sweat and tears. Like clowns that roam an abandoned circus, haunting and devoid of purpose.
The floor is packed with the writhing masses of frenzied bodies, chained to the beat and dancing against the bars of their confinement.

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Trapped, you push through the crowd until you feel the cool air on your face outside. The world becomes silent, you open your eyes to the air of tragedy that permeates the venue and its occupants. You can finally take that first breath and walk away.

That is, until you hear the familiar call of ‘Club Oblivion’ and you do it all again.

 Short story by Danie Bann: this is one of our music-story hybrids, check out our blog for more info about what we’re doing!

Hotel Chérie

HOMESHAKE – Every Single Thing <– Click here for accompanying song

Outside the Hotel Chérie the ground lies crumpled under the bottom of boots, drowning under puddles.

Black umbrellas penetrate the fog, which falls low and suffocates the thoughts of wearied passers-by. Street lamps exist only as blurs of stretched light.

Inside the hotel, muddy footprints guide guests to the elevator.

Exhausted suits remove top hats as they squeeze in among suitcases and bedraggled children. Fingers press down on cramped floor buttons and the elevator cries out under the weight.

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Some are heading to their rooms to fall among uncomfortable covers. Others sit and wait for women in long coats with sad, resigned eyes. The elevator sees the women come and go; never staying for more than an hour, they leave with lost expressions.

As the night falls heavily upon the hotel, cruel laughter permeates the dark hallways and drunken sighs spill onto the stained carpet where they are left to rot.

Mattresses spring under the weight of restless shuffling. The curtains do not close properly. The light from the street watches the guests with quiet resignation.

Downstairs at the bar, rings divorce fingers, abandoned in back pockets to cover their eyes from guilty smudged lipstick and hastily loosened ties. Heads are thrown back – the ceiling looks warped through the bottom of a glass.

Bar stools sigh with relief as guests head back to the elevator; the rain has stopped now and a cleaner wipes the footprints away like ghosts, barely looking at the guests as they stagger by. The hotel will let him leave in the early hours of the morning, as the rain begins to spit down on the crooked roof once again.

 

Short story by Katie Harrower: this is one of our music-story hybrids, check out our blog for more info about what we’re doing!

Rhythm & Spines

Hi! Katie here.

Welcome to the Rhythm & Spines blog, which isn’t a blog about the bones in your back, I promise. We’re talking about the spines of books, because this is predominantly a writing blog based on an idea that came to me one day on the bus to work.

To understand what we’re trying to do, I guess first you need to understand the idea, which is thus:

Have you ever been listening to a song, in your house or back garden or on a bus like me – and been able to visualise a story to accompany it? Sometimes it’s not even a story, just a kind of concept. Like watching a music video, but in your head, and it probably looks nothing like the actual music video for that song.

I purposefully don’t watch music videos because it ruins this exact phenomenon for me; I like things to be as I imagined them being, in the same way Ginny in the Harry Potter films is literally the opposite of everything I envisioned her to be (and I’m definitely not alone in that one).

We love to write. For the four years we’ve been friends, we’ve pinged stories, poems and songs back and forth to each other. It’s the only way I can let Danie know how I’m feeling without having, like, a complete meltdown in front of her. So it works.

We also love music, so we decided to start writing short stories and poems based off our favourite songs, and it worked surprisingly well. We wanted to create a completely new and unique type of story – one where the reader engages with the song and then reads along. It’s a way for people to discover new music and writing at the same time.

Then we decided to start this blog, to publish our music-story hybrids, and to allow others to engage with this new form of story too.

If you want to know how to read our stories correctly, it really is super simple:

  1. Click the link at the start of each post (it will take you to a youtube link of the chosen song, in a different tab)
  2. Click back to Rhythm&Spines.
  3. Read. Zone out. Leave reality behind.

And that’s it.