The Song That Changed Everything

You walked into the emergency room. This simply couldn’t be happening. Just a few hours ago you were playing cards with your friend, listening to your favorite song on the radio—the song that defined your friendship. But now, as you make your way to the nurses’ station, that song was playing again. Only this time, it felt different.

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269 thoughts on “The Song That Changed Everything

  1. mwhite1212

    John walked into the emergency room late that night. He was still in a daze. This can’t be happening, he thought to himself. Two hours earlier he had been at his best friends’ house playing poker. It was the first time that John had visited home in a long time so they had stayed up late, drinking beers and rolling joints, just like the old days. They must have listened to All Along The Watchtower twenty times. Jimi’s version was their favorite. There was a mystical feel to the song and when they listened to it together, it seemed the notes and the lyrics came from the stars themselves. Like the universe was speaking to them.
    John knew that leaving the house to get more beer was a bad idea, but he went along with it anyway, the alcohol in his system eager for company. The store was only a few minutes away, what could possibly happen? Besides, it was a nice night for a drive. Jason agreed and decided to take the long way. John started to protest, but he knew it was no use. After a few sharp turns, John began questioning Jason’s ability to drive.
    “I got this, man. Just goin’ to the store. We’re almost there.” As soon as he was done talking, All Along The Watchtower came on the radio. Jason looked at John with a little smile on his face and said, “If tonight’s my night, then I’m glad I was with you.” He punched the gas and the car vaulted forward. Through the twists and turns, Jason barely hit the brake. The magical sounds of Jimi’s guitar floated all around them. John started to get nervous, but the beers and weed clouded his judgment and he said nothing. He’s right, if tonight’s the night, then so be it, he thought to himself. If I’m going to die with someone, I couldn’t choose a finer person.
    Suddenly, he felt the tires lose their grip and he grabbed on to the door handle and held his breath as he saw a tree coming closer and closer. It was over in a second. The next few minutes were a blur for him. Sirens. Red and blue flashing lights. Some one asking if he was hurt. The smell of burned rubber and leaking anti-freeze. His best friends face unrecognizable with so much blood on it.
    Here he was now under the bright florescent lights, surrounded by the white walls, ceiling and floor tiles. The sterile hospital smell was making him sick to his stomach. The doctor came out to the lobby to see him with a grim look on his face. He told him that his best friends’ chances weren’t looking so good. Then he noticed a song playing in background. He felt a deep sadness well up inside him as he heard Jimi sing:

    There are many here among us
    Who feel that life is but a joke
    But you and I, we’ve been through that
    And this is not our fate
    So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late

  2. laurentravian

    I have always been able to face death.
    Granted, Johnny was always there for me, when they died. Oh Lord! What if Johnny died?! Who could sing our special song?
    I am running, running, down the hall. The concerned nurse said I could watch his surgery.
    The angry nurse said he probably wanted privacy. I asked where he was, so that I could go and do all I could.
    Room 585, they said. Room 585. But by the time I get there, they are already moving him out of surgery. I don’t get it. I follow the team mutely down the hall. This is my fault. I should have let him win at war. The team stops, wheels him into a door. The room is nice, but there is a girl sitting there, just waiting. She jumps up when she sees him. “Johnny!” she shrieks. She is a redhead with a nice form. I don’t like her. The team wakes Johnny up, and rests his cot by the wall. I take his hand, and our song comes on. “Johnny.” I whisper. The redhead is pissed. “Get away from him, you harpy!” I am impressed. I thought the worst insult she could come up with was ‘unfashionable.’ “And you will hold me dear, though I’m far away…” the song says. I get pissed. “Look, I don’t know who the hell you are, but this is my boyfriend of 3 years. So back off, Barbie!” She looks offended, then hisses the B-word at me. “This is my boyfriend of 3 years.” I turn to Johnny. His eyes flicker nervously between us. “So Johnny. How many girlfriends DO you have? Hmm?” I ask, calmly. “Well, y’see…” he begins. The room erupts with 7 more girls charging in. That’s how many. Bastard. The redhead looks like she’s going to take a lightsaber out of her couture purse, but I sneak out before she does. But I know something about Johnny, that he will realize in about 5 minutes. I was his favorite, the one that got away. The song is still playing, but it means nothing to me now. Just. Like. Johnny.

  3. Zoey

    The phone rang at 9:30. No one ever called this late. Right away, my heart starts pounding. I take a breath, and laugh at myself. It’s probably Jen, calling to let me know she had made it home safely.
    I had worried about her, she was tired after a night of cards and laughter. I offered her my couch and a pillow, but she insisted on driving home. After all, we hadn’t been drinking, and she had to get home let her dog out.
    As she climbs in the car, our song comes on the radio. She rolls the window down, and leans over the passenger seat, singing loudly. I roll my eyes, and shush her. If she wakes cranky old Mrs Potter, I’ll never hear the end of it.
    My phone is still ringing. I answer it “Joe’s Pizza!”, an old joke from our youth.
    There is a pause…
    “Yes, this is Hartville Memorial Hospital. I am calling on behalf of Jen Morris. This number was listed under emergency contact.”
    My heart starts pounding, I am already grabbing my keys and my coat.
    “Yes, what is this regarding?”
    “There’s been an accident. You need to get down here right away, Ma’am.”
    I hang up, I’m in a daze. I run to the bedroom, shaking. I wake my husband. I am crying, he can’t understand what I’m saying, but he understands he needs to get dressed.
    We leave, he drives through the night, holding my hand as I cry and pray.
    We arrive at the hospital after what feels like forever, and also no time at all.
    I run through the emergency room doors, to the nurses station. I practically yell Jen’s name, and I am directed down the hall. Somewhere, my mind registers the tinny sound of the radio, playing our song. The song she had just serenaded me with not 2 hours ago.
    What is happening?
    I go to her room. She is the hospital bed, hooked up to machines that beep and hum. She looks too small. She looks too bruised. Maybe there is some mistake, my best friend, the girl I have known for my entire life, was bigger than this. She may have had a tiny body, but her light made everything else seem smaller than her.
    I see her hands, and I know, there is no mistake. So I hold her hand, like she held mine through childbirth, when my husband’s plane was delayed. I hold her hand, like she held mine the day I found out my college boyfriend had cheated on me. I hold her hand, like she held mine the day I married my husband and was suddenly frozen with fear. I hold her hand the way she did when my mother passed away.
    I can’t believe this is happening. She is the strong one. I need her.
    I lean down and I softly start to sing, and the words of “our song” mean more than they ever have before…

  4. Jaybo

    Don’t’ You Love Her Madly?
    Back when love was easy, at least expressing it was far too easy in terms of confusing love with its most physical expression, every tunesmith would bend over backward to out -sing, out- rhyme and out- overdrive their amps to gospel their songs that “We have it right… this time.” My lady was never Classic Country; I wasn’t rock and roll, preferring the soft balladeer sounds. I enjoyed Nashville; my dearest sister ended up in a convent there. Later I’d have spent hours visiting her; and to taste what, in common, the music genres had, in case I decided to stop selling shoes and write Gospel songs. My lady accommodated some of my music. I sort of took to hers and we had a pleasant relationship. Too pleasant? Nah! I did love the woman; more than my Christian beliefs would permit. I beg you to, again, consider the times. I believe that she knew it, though. But, she also understood that far too many men marry and still want the mother’s breasts. Lucky, I grew out of that before that deciding incident which could best express our true common bond: it was an equitable love. She wanted a Father’s affection, and I needed a soul (and a body) to give me reason to grow out of an acedia that could often strangle both of us as lovers. We were Co-Dependent to a religious dogma and a classic expression of the term: “Psychic Vampires”. I’d learn to pray for her and she’d do the same for me and Someone else got the credit. So we lived and loved and prayed and loved some more until the day came for the fruit of this love to finally be manifest to the whole world. She put down her Uno cards, picked up the phone, dialed and spoke softly, then turned saying, “It’s time to go.” I quickly put down my own hand and turned off the Victrolla, lifting the playing arm in the middle of her Jim Morrison and the Door’s tract and got our coats. She was already out the door and into the Chrysler Imperial when I made sure I had keys, insurance and other items related to our upcoming visit. “Already walk-in out the door”, I thought with the tune in my head, “She can’t wait!” Neither can I.
    Arriving quickly to our destination, they were prepared for us due to her phone call. I dropped her off at the front, per her adamant instructions, and looked at her tears droop down her cheek, whispered, “It’s OK. I’ll go and park.” Parking was enough to require me to make an act of Contrition on the spot. At the Visitors station, the chief obstetrician met me, “She and the baby girl are well. Came fast! Not bad for first time and at her age too.” I turned to the nurse, who had her radio on softly, and I heard, “Don’t you love her madly.” Yes!

  5. Tiana

    My hand ached. The knuckles, which at first were red, were staring to darken. I hope I didn’t break any bones; I have no insurance. The ER visit would be bad enough without whatever it is doctors do to reset a broken hand. Hopefully it’s just bruised. Hell, I’ll settle for a sprain.
    As I walk up to the front desk, wouldn’t you know, that song started playing again. I laughed to myself, not that it was funny, of course, but I just… I can’t believe how quickly things can turn around, when the people who you love the most turn out to not be who you thought they were. You wouldn’t understand, unless it happened to you. I didn’t believe it either, until about an hour ago when everything became all too clear. That song plays on the little radio on the front desk, mocking me and my stupidity. How could I not have known?
    “Yes, may I help you?” the woman asks. Her name tag says “Angelita Lee: Unit Clerk,” fancy name for a secretary. She looks up at me through her electric blue rimmed coke-bottle glasses. Her eyes magnified by the thick lenses make her look like some kind of cartoon character, a baby Buggs Bunny, maybe. I try to answer while fighting the urge to smirk at her. That would be rude and I was in enough trouble as it is.
    “I broke my hand,” I lied, knowing that anything less would put in the waiting room corner with a stack of forms to keep me busy for the next 8 hours it might take to be called. I volunteered in a hospital as a teenager before, I know how it works. Granted, I was just a fifteen year old candy striper, but I was there nonetheless. It’s funny how you remember things, sights, smells, sounds. There’s something about the smell of hospitals that make me anxious. It could be the alcohol, urine, antibiotics, or that can’t-quite-place-a-name-on-it smell that only is encountered in hospitals. And that song! Of all songs, on all the radio stations in the universe, it has to be that one! I glance over at it and have a flash fantasy of knocking it off the front desk with a baseball bat.
    “Fill these out. Then give them to the lady in window three,” Angelita says handing me my ‘welcome’ packet of hospital red tape. I figured as much. The song plays as I walk to the last empty seat that wasn’t next to someone who was bleeding into a dirty rag, or coughing like it was the height of the great tuberculosis era.
    I walk to my seat. The radio fades slightly, just enough for me to feel a slight sense of relief. As I listen to the lyrics I replay the recent turn of events in my mind which, coupled with the familiar stench of medical supplies, started to turn my stomach. Not exactly the best way to spend my birthday.

  6. Kaitlyn13

    “Like those soft little secrets that you tell, that you tell to yourself when you think no one’s listening too well…”

    The music was so loud it was near impossible to tell whether it was real or not, or just in my head. I leaned against the wall far as I could go, sliding down to the floor, until I could feel the cold linoleum against the skin of my hands.

    This isn’t happening. It had been this way for so long, for too long. We were both the weak ones, but I had always been better at hiding my weakness from the rest of the world. I could grin and bear it and suffer alone; she could always just walk away.

    Three hours earlier, we had been reunited for the first time in years. We had talked, had laughed, had shared stories of where our lives had taken us, marveled in the fact that we had gotten to be so far away from one another, when it seemed as it just yesterday we were inseparable. The days when breathing without her still seemed within reach, but the truth was in reverse.

    The card game had been a joke; neither of us knew how to play very well. She had taught me, in fact, the way she had taught me so much in our lifetime together. Flashes of our childhood, our teenage years, our fights, our tearful reconciliations overcame me.

    “You mean too much to me to go now,” I whispered to no one in particular. A woman on the other side of the room turned and frowned at me, clearly unimpressed with my display of emotions. But this was a hospital, and if there were no extreme emotions to be found here, what was there?

    I didn’t want to answer that question.

    When I had found her in the bathroom, cold and lifeless and beyond hope, I had been convinced I was dreaming. She wouldn’t do this, not here, not now, and not in this way, would she? I realized that I just didn’t know anymore; I just didn’t know her anymore.

    My thoughts were interrupted by a white coated doctor who motioned for me to follow him into the hallway. He spoke some soft words I didn’t hear, didn’t care about, before leading me to her room. She was awake, but clearly fatigued and a bit frightened. I rushed to her side, grasping her hand and gazing at her desperately.

    “Why? I asked, knowing full well that I wouldn’t receive an answer, even if she were capable of knowing. Her soft smile told me everything I needed to know.

    “You were always there,” she whispered, and although I knew it was untrue, I couldn’t bring myself to admit it.
    “Like you were just a wish that could turn out well…”

    *Lyrics are “Wishing Well” by The Airborne Toxic Event

  7. Anouk4562

    The white hall stretched out in front of me, antibacterial, sterile, clean. I wasn’t clean. I was contaminated, with fear, and self loathing. The outlines of objects, moving people, shook and came crashing down, an image shattered and broken, as I blinked a tear out of my eye. I couldn’t feel it as it trailed down my cheek, as it continued down my neck, I sensed it, but couldn’t feel it. In truth, I felt nothing at all, but somehow I felt everything at once, in a collapsing multitude of emotion and blank awareness. The tear reach the fold of my blouse and trickled into a groove in the fabric.

    The blouse was red. Maria told me red was sexy. Men were stimulated by the color red. RED. Red as the ace of spades. Red as blood. Red as death. Everything was swimming in a haze of white confusion. Lab coats, concerned tones, possibly directed at me. All I could think about was Maria, lying in a mangled heap, the blood gushing, Hector screaming. Oh dios, Oh mi dios. Maria, Maria, Maria. The screaming broke the surface. Was it me? Was I screaming?

    Rough hands grabbed me from all sides. A strong male voice, cut through the shock.
    “M’am, all you alright? M’am, you have to contain yourself, M’AM!”
    My eyes rolled upwards towards the linoleum ceiling. A black speaker was attached to the upper corner, above the nurses station. A rumbling tune escaped. The tune was so familiar. So intense, that it swallowed me whole.

    I could feel the strumming of the guitar in my heart, the spanish drums beating to the rhythm of my body. Maria took my hands, pulling me out of my chair and into the dance floor. The ace of spades fluttered resolutely to the ground. Back forth, back forth. The rhythm and steps of the tango overtook us both. Hector was cheering, his eyes on Maria, as her glossy mane of hair, whipped along with the beat. He loved her, it was true.

    The music surrounded me and we moved with the melody, encased in the dancing, in another world entirely. Our red skirts swung around, seductively encasing our curvy latin hips. Back forth back forth.

    The swish of the red skirt.

    The drip of the red blood.

    The swish of the red skirt.

    The drip of the red blood.

    Swish, swish.

    Drip, drip.

    Swish, swish.

    Drip, drip.

    Maria, I whispered her name. Maria, el hermoso. Maria, mi hermana.

    Maria, the beautiful.
    Maria, my sister.

  8. theSkilled

    On the first page of our story…
    “Hand me a card, Jack.”
    The future looked so bright.
    “Gosh, I’m always dealing, Samantha.”
    Then this thing turned out so evil…
    “What’s the matter, Jack?”
    Don’t know why…
    “Samantha…I can’t…”
    I’m still…

    I walked down the corridor, no, I ran down it, my brown hair falling out of the pins I attempted to hold it up with. My arms ached terribly and my legs burned as sharp as my stomach was churning. The white walls folded on me as the hallway stretched like chewing gum; waving and sloshing like the sea. My mascara-stained eyes blinked away tears but were no match to the intense ringing in my ears and closing of my raw throat. Jack was in the last door…
    Nothing else was real anymore. Just an hour ago Jack, my childhood friend, came over to play some poker. It was what we did every Thursday night when Jack got off his graveyard shift and I graded all the papers to my fourth grade class. I’d snuggle up in a blanket and Jack would spin his hat backwards as we sat in the living room of my ghetto house smack in the middle of Detroit, smoking whatever Jack brought over, and listening to the radio. I remember pulling some rather nice cards, eying Jack with coyness as if I suspected he had just as nice a set as mine, but knowing in my gut that he’d lose to my royal flush. He flicked cigarette ashes on my wooden floors, smiling awkwardly like he always did, and twinkling his left eye. His right one had always been blind.
    “Hey,” Jack said, “it’s our song.”
    He was right and leaned over to turn the knob higher; blasting Love the Way You Lie so loud the radio actually started shaking. “Dancing to the vibrations,” Jack explained jokingly. But I didn’t smile. It was our song alright, but I hated it. And a sudden emotion came over me.
    I started to hate Jack, too.
    A nurse stepped in front of me asking where I was heading to but I shoved her out of the way. He will lie, I thought to myself. Just like the song.
    On the first page of our story…
    “Hand me a card, Jack.”
    The future looked so bright.
    “Gosh, I’m always dealing, Samantha.”
    Then this thing turned out so evil…
    “What’s the matter, Jack?”
    Don’t know why…
    “Samantha…I can’t…”
    I’m still…
    I finally got to Jack’s door in a sweaty heap. He was standing in front of it, bloody and missing an arm. His head was gashed open as he hung on a limp to his left leg.
    “Did you…” the nurse asked hesitantly.
    “Even angles have their wicked schemes,” I answered sing-songly.
    “But you,” Jack retorted maliciously, “take that to new extremes.”
    But you’ll always be my hero, the radio had blared as I pounded on Jack’s body with an axe from my closet.
    “Even though,” Jack said standing before the two of us, “you’ve lost your mind.”
    “I killed him,” I confessed.
    Jack’s ghost didn’t smile.


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