High

Three young women have one thing in common: Music. They have their own issues such as suicide, alcoholism, weight gain and depression to deal with, besides their husbands rather fragile egos. These young women are going places, on their own terms and must overcome lifes’ obstacles. Do you think suicide, weight gain and fear will hold these woman down? No way. Beth must deal with her own inner demons and overprotective mother. She is in love with Jon, her guitar playing boyfriend. She is his muse, his inspiration for his music. He loves her except when she screws up. Stephanie has to learn to let go and shake off her abusive past, destructive parents and be free to love Ian, her bass playing husband. Heather is stuck in a humdrum relationship with Phil the pessimistic drummer and learns that breaking away sometimes is the payoff to success in the world. Catch up on all the hilarius girl talk in High.

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7. High

Chapter 8

 

The sound check was deafening. Drums that sounded like pounding sledgehammers, a guitar that screamed and bass that thumped oozed into my soul. Something was ringing in the PA, the guys had yet to detect the problem. Jon adjusted the PA. The ringing stopped. Tonight was a rainy and quiet night. I doubted that the crowds would be out on the avenue, but the band was optimistic.

 

I was sitting alone in a large wooden booth, discretely going over my bills. I had more bills than money to pay bills. I was starting to wonder which credit card would be the first to slide. I hated to ruin my credit, but it was getting pretty desperate in my poverty.

 

Ian was setting up his bass amp. I asked him about Stephanie and he said she wasn’t coming tonight, too bad, no girl talk for me. I was stuck with the guys tonight. Somebody had ordered sweet potato fries and they arrived steaming in a green and white basket. It was going to be a long night.

 

 

 

Stephanie poured the boiling water into her teacup. This was her favorite blend of Earl Grey English Breakfast tea. She needed a good cup to relax while she perused the Internet. Her cat Sabrina was acting up tonight. She bent down to pet her but the cat swatted her good with her paw, cutting her skin.

 

“Sabrina!” she yelled, and the cat scampered out the sliding door.

 

She wiped up the cut with some alcohol. It was good to be home alone; maybe she would have a bath with some incense and bubbles. Maybe she would even get around to reading her new book. Stephanie checked out her email. Her cousin Katrina in North Carolina was getting married…She would have to send her a gift. She scrolled farther down. There it was, a message from Brad. She opened it up and held her breath anxiously.

 

 

 

It read:

 

Dear Stephanie,

 

What a wonderful surprise to hear from you. I am happy that you found a good guy to get married to. I found this out on Face Book. I also am married, as you probably know and we have two daughters. I have thought of you often, I hope that life is treating you well…. Thanks for being in touch, take care.

 

Best,

 

Brad

 

 

Hmmmn….So he was pretty much out of reach. He didn’t love her anymore and was happily married… It hurt. She felt relieved that it was over for him. If only he knew how much she cared for him.  He would have to remain a fantasy. She pushed him out of her mind. Men, what pricks they are, she thought.

 

She clicked on another website, her favorite designer of the moment Chloe Case. She loved the high fashion clothes, the whimsical shoes and the outrageous accessories.

 

She dreamed of designing a designer handbag and becoming rich and famous and her own boss. But it was just a dream. Right now she had to do one thing, lose weight and turn Ian on again. That was her number one priority. She dreamed of going from 210 to 130. She wanted a personal trainer to whip her into shape like on Oprah and The Biggest Loser. She had to exercise while Ian wasn’t around. He only served to sabotage her efforts by feeding her French fries, cheese doodles and pretzels. She had to save her marriage.

 

Ian was good, busy in his bands and with his job. His goal was to become a valuable session player in Nashville. Nashville would be cool; she could see them there.

 

Stephanie pulled out some paper and began sketching some designs for the handbag. She couldn’t really draw very well, but it was enough to get the idea across. A saddlebag style, stitching, a pouch for her secret scent. SB Creations, her initials. She had the whole game plan. Now to somehow put this into motion. Maybe one day she would be brave enough to approach Chloe Case with her idea in New York. Sure…what a dream that would be…She must be on acid or something.

 

 

Chapter 9

 

Beth caught the A train into the city. She was clad head to toe in black; her hair pulled into a chic ponytail and had on her new black patent leather boots.

 

All she had was an address scribbled on the back of a card. 500 Madison Avenue. She emerged at Grand Central Station and started walking. The harsh reality of daylight hit her and her feet pounded the pavement with the throngs of workers carrying Blackberries, wearing sneakers, juggling coffee cups and totting briefcases. 500 Madison Ave loomed large in front of her. It was a large, plain glass door. She pushed it open and went inside. The receptionist looked up at her from a granite desk.

 

“I’m here to see Ms Jenkins.”

 

“Oh yes, please take a seat. Your name?”

 

“Beth Polanski.”

 

“One moment….”

 

She sat and glanced around the office. There were Indian prints on the walls and a lively throw on the wooden floor. The office had some personality. She was curious about Melanie.

 

Melanie Jenkins was a prominent therapist in New York City. Beth had Googled her and found out that she graduated Magna Cum Laude from Yale University and had a sterling reputation. She wanted a job as an intern badly. This would get her foot in the door.

 

“Ms Jenkins will see you now.”

 

Beth followed the receptionist into the inner sanctum of the plush offices. Melanie was standing by the window watering a hanging plant.

 

“Ah Beth, sit down…Just watering Hazel, a gift from my mother. She loves ferns.”

 

They shook hands. Beth was surprised by how pretty Melanie was. She must have been around forty, with smooth skin and curly black hair.

 

“Welcome to New York.” Said Melanie

 

“Thanks, I love it. It’s so busy!”

 

“Yes, there is tremendous energy here. The city does take some getting used to…So, tell me about yourself.”

 

“Well, I graduated FAU with a degree in Occupational Therapy.”

 

“No, tell me about you.” she said intensely.

 

“Well, I’m 24, I grew up in Florida. My father was a dentist and my mother is an artist. They are divorced. This is my first time living on my own and I love it. I plan to become very successful, much like yourself.”

 

“Thank you. Well, let me get to the point. The position I have here is an intern position, as you know…. It involves handling patient’s needs, running errands, keeping the office stocked up on supplies and being my personal assistant. Discretion is essential, of course…..I take great care to see that my personal life does not interfere with my professional life. Think it’s the job for you?”
 

“Definitely.”

 

“Ok then, you’re hired. You can start next Monday at 9am. We’ll just take it from there.”

 

“Thank you Ms Jenkins.” She shook her hand.

 

“Just call me Melanie.”

 

Beth got up and smiled a big smile. Her adrenaline was pumping. She would have to call her mother to tell her the news, and Jon…Jon wasn’t her lover anymore. She felt a little down thinking about Jon. What was good news when you didn’t have someone to share it with?

 

She walked uptown to Central Park. The hot dog vendors were out, pigeons strolled the sidewalks and she felt excited to be alive. She was, in fact, very grateful that she was alive. Beth sat down on a park bench and watched the people stroll by. Life felt good.

 

 

 

Phil, Jon and Ian were tearing it up, playing some down and dirty slow blues. Phil was smiling at me. I was glad that he hadn’t dyed his beard bright red yet. I liked him the way he was, all gray hair.

 

The place was slow tonight. Jon was on center stage.

 

“There’s a red house over yonder, that’s where my baby stays.” He crooned.

 

I wondered about his Texas fiasco, too bad it hadn’t worked out for him. Maybe he would end up in Nashville with Ian one day. The future was as clear as mud.

 

 

 

I was thinking about a story I started to write. It was a children’s story called Simon the Silly Snail. I’ve been writing children’s stories for a while, I am self published which doesn’t mean shit. I’ve thought of hiring an illustrator but don’t have the money to do it quite yet. I’m just in the thinking stages, can’t take myself too seriously as a writer.

 

I sat and listened to Jon singing one of Beth’s songs. What did he think when he sang those songs? Did he think of her? Did it cause him pain? Did memories float through his mind? He was very mysterious.

 

I vowed to call Beth in Brooklyn and see how she was doing. Maybe one day us band wives would have a reunion. The night was droning on. I sat hunched in the booth surrounded by flickering media on big screen TV’s, a blend of politics, sports and flashes of life from all over the world. My day was one day blending into the next.

Life and death, highs and lows, insanity and peace.

 

 

Chapter 10

 

 

Stephanie lay in bed tossing and turning. Something was bugging her and she just couldn’t get it out of her mind. A dark, icky vibe washed over like a giant grizzly bear standing over her, jaws open, ready to attack.

 

She hopped out of bed and turned the light on. Her cell phone was flashing. A message. She checked the number. It was her mother. She had tracked her down again. Her mental mother was stalking her again, like she had done before. She’d stalked her brother and her uncle and now her, again.

 

Stephanie was freaking out. What if her mother was here at her house, watching her? Chills ran down her spine. She felt it was a matter of time before one day her mother would snap, go on a crazy killing spree and take her out.

 

It had been a few years sine she last heard from her. She remembered it well. She had suggested that they meet for coffee. She knew she hated coffee but she went. Her mother was sitting at the counter, a half dazed smile on her lips, sipping a cappuccino. She gave her no hug, no kiss , just a cold and vacant stare. She started bombarding her with questions about Ian. Why was she with him? Did he make enough money? When was she coming home to help her? She said she needed her, for what? Needed her to make her life more miserable again?

 

Stephanie shuddered art the thought that her mother had tracked her down again. She needed to get dressed go and meet Ian at the gig. It was only eleven. But she was paralyzed, terrified at the thought that maybe her mother was waiting for her outside in the dark. What if she was watching and waiting? She jumped under the covers and kept the lights on. Ian would be home soon….Tomorrow she was meeting up with her friend Candy for lunch. She would survive.

 

I sat and listened to the band.  It was grooving tonight. Phil was doing well, despite his most recent bout of lactose intolerance. It seemed that just about everything he ate upset his stomach. French-fries, hamburgers, milk, all big no-nos, yet he continued to chow down his favorite foods. Meanwhile he toilet time was getting worse and worse, almost to the point of being unable to play on stage. I was getting scared for him.

 

I went to Whole Foods earlier in the week and looked around at the Gluten-Free department. Maybe that was the answer. I bought some crackers, some cereal and some pasta, all gluten free. Phil needed to take better care of that stomach of his….

 

He looked happy tonight playing with the band. Jon was looking excessively skinny in a tight white T-shirt and sagging pants that showed his yellow underwear. Ian was jamming away on bass. His face was swollen from having his wisdom teeth pulled, so he was playing with a kind of tortured precision.

 

The band was up for a cool gig in Sanibel Island. There was a fishing tournament there and we were booked to stay at the swanky Island Plantation resort. It would be great to get away from here for a while and mellow out in Sanibel.

 

I ordered a Coke and was sitting back watching the band when the door opened and in walked Beth. Jon was playing guitar and a look of disbelief washed over his face when he saw her. He kept on playing and a tiny, mysterious smile crept over his face.

 

Beth came over and I hugged her.

 

“Beth! What a surprise!”

 

“Yeah. I can’t believe I’m here.”

 

“You look great girl!”

 

“Thanks. I feel great.”

 

“How’s New York?”


“Great!”

 

The band took a break. Jon walked over to Beth with his arms outstretched.

 

“Babe!”

 

“I’m here….”

 

They hugged and kissed and I left them alone, I found Phil sitting on the side of the stage.

 

“Beth is back.” I said excitedly

 

“I see…” he said disapprovingly.

 

“So?”

 

“I smell trouble….” He said darkly.

 

“You are such a pessimist.”

 

‘We’ll see…”

 

“How’s your stomach?”

 

“Hurts a bit…I might have to go take another massive turd.”

 

“Spare me the details, ok?”

 

 

I gave him a kiss before he left and worried about him. I looked over at Beth and Jon, deep into each other. Wow. I thought, this was the happiest I’d seen Jon in ages, who always walked around in a sarcastic, cerebral tone of not caring. I guess they still loved each other.

 

It was already December 1st. the Thanksgiving holidays were over. We were all stuffed with turkey and cranberry and sweet potatoes and corn. Now the serious shopping would begin.

 

Phil had his list of items that he wanted, but what I had in mind was a golf course credit card that would let him play as much as he wanted. I knew he loved golf. So that was my dream gift for him. Whether I could afford it or not remained to be seen. I had already shopped on the internet for great stocking stuffers on Amazon, a golf glove, sunglasses, a CD…….Phil was a terrible child when It came to Christmas gifts and would squeeze and peek and try to figure out all his gifts.

 

I didn’t know what I wanted, all I really needed was cash but nobody had any. In years past my bosses used to give me a cash bonus at the end of every year bit this too had dried up in the lousy economy. I guess I was lucky just to have a job. Yup. Times were tough. My credit cards were mounting up. Paying the minimum didn’t get you very far out of debt. I wished I were financially secure. Wished I had like fifty grand in the bank, a little stash of cash….Maybe one day I would get there. Right now I had a long way to go.

 

 

 

 

Stephanie walked down Atlantic Avenue towards the Greenmarket. It was a perfect, sunny day, perfect to browse all the vendors that had their wares set up. She was thinking of her mother today. It had been a few weeks since the creepy call and nothing had come of it. She was beginning to feel a little foolish about being paranoid. Maybe her Mom would come around.

 

Things were going well with her and Ian. He was busy all the time and she had her own job to take care of, as well as her vegetable garden and her Zumba classes. Life was sweet.

 

She headed into the Greenmarket. There was a fish vendor there, with fresh Florida stone crabs on ice. Awesome!! There was a hot sauce lady there, selling her spicy hot sauces. She stopped at A Taste For Africa and ordered a chicken kabob. It looked so delicious on the grill, roasted and brown, covered in a BBQ sauce. She sat and ate. She felt so alive, so connected to the universe today. It was good to be out, to be free, to be young. She had her whole life ahead of her.

 

Ian had come around in the romance department. He brought her flowers for the first time in over a year and hugged her tight. She was flooded with emotion, happy that he wasn’t taking her for granted. She felt if only she was skinnier he would pay her more mind. But that was coming. The inches were falling off her frame slowly. She was already one pants size smaller.

 

She had begun to sew her bag. She would sew at work when no one was looking, carefully lining up the edges of her design. The bag was almost done. She planned to submit it to Chloe Case in New York when it was complete. Her dream loomed ahead of her in full sail. She felt a power inside her that was unstoppable, a desire for revenge and success that enveloped her. She felt hungry and determined and was tired of being ignored. Soon they would pay attention to her when she walked into the room. Soon she would be a force to be reckoned with. Soon. When? She didn’t know.

 

She sat and watched the people in the market. Their faces were so relaxed, they had their dogs and kids. She wished she could relax and be as peaceful and content with life. But she had to make her mark. She knew that deep down inside her was a powerful woman, a woman of strength and of substance. It was only a matter of time. Would Ian be able to stand the force? Would he wither? Would he stand behind her and be her man?

 

Time would tell.

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