The Seven Five Nothing

The Seven Five Nothing are a collection of hyper-short stories, each written in a single sitting with no editting.

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8. Mixtape.

I was pulling boxes out, readying to throw them all away. In my stomach, a feeling so noxious it was stirring tears in my eyes and disdain in my head. Why the fuck were we doing this, I kept thinking. Why the fuck were we tearing each other apart?

A week into our break, and I was already done. We shouldn't be doing this, playing the games and all that. It should have been clean - why hadn't I insisted on that? But no, a break is what she needed, and for whatever reason, I agreed to that. What a fucken idiot.

And then, as I pulled out the last box, I spotted something familiar - an old mixtape. I recognised my handwriting on the sticker on the case - our initials and a heart, tape 3, '02. It threw me, making space for a memory: I'd intended to make one of these a month for the whole time we were together. I think I got as far as seven tapes for seven months.

As I got in the car, I slipped it on. Immediately, I was lost.

'Moby - One of These Mornings.'

The song played. We rolled on the bed, kissing passionately, whispering and laughing. We'd spent the whole day under the sheets - it was something we used to do a lot back then. I'd just got the album and was hooked on it almost as much I was her. It felt like the weight of love, stuck in my chest.

'Oasis - Talk Tonight.'

It reminded me of the time before we got together - officially at least. The time when she would listen to me talking on the phone, about all my travesties, and I would listen to hers. We were sharing our histories in those calls, our voices low, barely above a whisper, linking our hearts down the wire. It made the loneliness easier, made me feel like there was somebody in the world who got me. Felt like peace.

'Miles Davis - On Green Dolphin Street.'

We'd been talking, over coffee, and I tried to sound cooler than I was. She had a love of music and movies much greater than mine, and mentioned that after developing a weird crush on Woody Allen, she'd gotten into jazz. I dropped the only name I knew, Miles Davis, and then proceeded to talk in the vaguest terms about my great love of the 'blue notes.'

Years later, I was over trying to get jazz. I knew I should love it, but I just didn't know how to. I didn't much get Woody Allen either, but she forgave me all of that. But now, in this car, Miles made a whole lot more sense. I toyed that maybe Woody would too.

'Ryan Adams - Damn, Sam (I Love a Woman That Rains)'

This came on, and I couldn't help breaking out in song, trying to match Adams' heart. You get that rush sometimes, when you sing, like it's all your emotions coming to the surface.

She caught me singing it once, laying in her bath, hopelessly out of tune. The first I knew she was listening was when her laughter snapped my concentration. I was so embarrassed. She'd never heard me sing before, I'd been riffing with her, telling her I could carry a song. She came in, giggling, praising me for being cute, but I sunk beneath the water, my shame welling.

'The Beatles - Across the Universe.'

When I gave this to her, it was unashamed. We went for a night drive. If you asked me where to, I couldn’t tell you. It was one of those things, where you just decide on impulse that you're going to go get lost tonight. People should do that more.

I played this track and she watched the night from the passenger window - a front row seat to everything. She used to talk with wonder, about how fascinated she was that we'd emerged from this tiny dot in the middle of nothing. I was just fascinated with the way her mouth moved when she talked, the way her eyes lit up.

I pulled up and turned the car off. The last of the song played and then she opened the door.
'What are you doing here?'
She wasn't so happy to see me outside her parents house, not at this time of the night.
'I brought your things.'
'Really? At this time? Are you an idiot?'
'Not as much as I used to be.'
She got in, closing the door behind her.
'Why are you doing this?'
'I can't do this anymore,' I replied. 'This not knowing.'
'I told you, I just wanted a week to think.'
'It's been a week.'
She didn't say anything.
'Here, I found this.'
I pressed rewind for a few seconds, then play.
'Nothing's gonna change my world...' The Beatles sang.
'You remember it?'

She stayed a while. We listened to the whole tape, both sides, talking in waves. Some of it good, some of it bad. I didn't give her things right there, instead, I drove home, alone.

When I got in, I dug out her 'Annie Hall' DVD, resigned that I wanted to know her better. It made more sense, and Woody, I know what you meant - I definitely need the eggs.
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