Red sky at morning.
I can work with that. Oh yes, I can.
She got out of her chair, and though her legs were still shaky, she swayed into the bedroom. On the nightstand was her journal, in case snippets of lyrics or a melody came to her in her sleep. The latest pages were filled with A-Game lyrics, which she ripped out, crumpled, and pitched into the wastebasket. She returned to the living room and found her laptop on the coffee table. She drug her afghan to the couch, put on fresh tea, and waited for it to boil so as not to make any unnecessary trips.
Sailors take warning.
No, not sailors, she thought. Lovers.
She scribbled the couplet down in her journal and it was off to the races.
Wait, what was that word for morning in the military, she wondered? She opened her laptop and searched for “military” and “morning” and the first entry that appeared was the word reveille.
She sat back. “That’s it.”
The kettle whistled, screeching, and she shuffled back into the kitchen and turned off the pilot, annoyed, thoughts of tea forgotten, left behind, in the before. There was only the song now.
It’s not you, it’s me.
No, flip it, she thought.
It’s not you, it’s me. It’s Reveille.
And there it was. Her chorus. With red sky, she had the first couplet of the first verse, and now she had a chorus. And an idea, a theme. Different mornings, different types of reveilles. The morning always came, shining a light on two lovers, revealing them at different stages. And a far off melody that sounded as if it was being played in another room, faint but just audible enough to discern. In her mind, her fingers clutched her guitar and her lips a hair away from the microphone, floating in front of a sea of swaying, swooning people. That night was already happening, she just had to get there.
She just had to finish the song.
With the sudden burst of energy giving her strength, and ignoring that she was as shaky as newborn calf, she shuffled to get Clyde from the bedroom and reconvened at the couch with her journal and laptop.
She had a chorus, the makings of a verse, and a melody. It was a lifeline pitched to her down a deep, dark well. But now she had to climb. To place her feet against the wall and put her back into it.
She noodled the melody on her guitar, finding and solidifying the chords. It would help with finding the right words, the right phrasing. Then she puzzled out the words. By the time the sun was setting again, the melody was well worn and she’d beaten two verses into shape, but she was missing a bridge and the final verse. And she realized she’d never had that cup of tea. Then she looked at the clock and realized that was eight hours ago and she was famished. She went back into the kitchen and found Josh and Kincaid had stocked her cupboards with food. She ripped into a box of Saltines, grabbed a sleeve, and returned to her nest on the couch, more than a little proud of the progress she’d made. Writing a song, summoning the right words and melody at the same time, was like building a plane in mid-air.
No, she thought. A fighter jet.
It was rote by now. Red sky, reveille, formations…she’d spent the whole day fitting lyrics into a nautical theme, a military theme. But she’d exhausted all of the military terminology her civilian brain could muster—was muster one? she thought—and still that bridge was just beyond reach. If only she’d had the experience. She remembered Kirby then, and Veronica Iconic telling her how good she was, but that the people around her didn’t have the vocabulary to communicate with her. It burned a tiny flare in her heart and tears threatened to well in her eyes at that sweet, Kyle-adjacent memory. But now Corey was the one without the language. If only she had a damn key.
Then it hit her. Her second eureka moment of the day.
The best way out is always through.
She was pretty sure that one was from Robert Frost. Or maybe Robert Smith of The Cure. Definitely a Robert though.
And she knew the place she needed to go through was the scene of the crime.