Nightingale: An Original Story


This is a story I wrote back in 2013 for a writing class. Aside from a few minor details, I’ve left the story unchanged.

I take one last swig of the beer I’ve been nursing all night, and then exhaustedly pack my guitar back into its case. My dark hair falls in my face, and I give an exasperated sigh.

“Great set today, Dani,” says Darren, the manager of The Thirsty Siren, the bar in which I play every weekend. I nod in tired acknowledgment, but Darren is already walking away and shouting something to one of the bartenders. As I finish packing away my guitar, I let out a yawn I’ve been holding back all night. Lugging the cumbersome case off the ground, I think longingly of my bed at home being made warm by my gorgeous angel Fleur. I can’t help but feel a jolt of electricity fire through me at the thought of her. She is the purest embodiment of perfection I’ve ever seen. And she’s mine.

Fleur is actually the reason I’m so fucking tired. No, not because of our steamy liaisons in our aforementioned bed (although those moments are so heavy, they’d knock out a fucking professional wrestler). It’s actually because I love her so goddamn much. Well, her and Mikki. We both work to provide for her little girl from a previous relationship. One back in high school, before she realized she was a total lesbian. But now, it’s just the three of us. I’ve had to put my music career on the backburner, which sucks; however, I have more pressing matters at hand right now. I think of my two beautiful girls, and feel a burning ache to be home right now.

I watch Fleur from the floor of our homey little apartment, where I sit with Mikki who is mesmerized by the episode of Barney & Friends currently on screen. Fleur’s long, golden hair sways behind her in a perfect ponytail. She hums to herself adorably off-key, while fixing breakfast. I am totally smitten. She never fails to give me yet another reason to fall further in love with her. She feels my eyes on her and turns to me, a playful smile crossing her face.

“You see something you like?” she teases. She cocks her head slightly, in a flirty way.

“Oh yes,” I say, trying to keep the lust out of my voice. Mikki may just be a baby, but I’m not about to seduce her mother in front of her. Amused, Fleur turns back to the bacon she is frying on the stove. I feel a little pressure on my leg, and turn to find Mikki trying to crawl into my lap. Smiling, I pick up the chubby toddler and hold her tight in my lap. I notice Fleur glance back out at us, a smile of pure happiness dominating her face. In that moment, I am struck by the domesticity of all this. It almost doesn’t seem like reality. This is actually my life. Fleur is my girlfriend. Mikki is practically my daughter. We are a family. My head spins slightly, as I think back to how all this blissfulness began.

It was after a long day at my former job, where I played music for toddlers at the library. Not my dream job (not that playing late-night sets for drunken assholes at a bar is either), but you gotta pay the bills somehow. The only way I kept my sanity was by repeating my mantra to myself: Nothing can keep me from my dreams. I was packing up my guitar, this time in the late afternoon, when one of the mothers approached me.

It took every inch of my body to restrain the groan I was about to let out. Another overly-chipper-yet-clearly-exhausted mother was coming to tell me how great I was and how much her little sweetheart just loves my shows. It’s not that I don’t like being complimented on my musical abilities, but after about forty different moms tell you your acoustic rendition of “Wheels on the Bus” was ‘just spectacular’ it starts to get pretty fucking old. Still, I plastered a smile on my face, and turned to the woman to get the barrage of gushing over with. I was expecting some 30-something soccer mom with bags under her eyes from days upon days of endless Sesame Street marathons. Instead, I was met with a glimmering angel.

“You were really great,” said her light, flowing voice. My whole world swirled. This woman was young with the most dazzling smile. No, she was definitely not a soccer mom. But what was this friendly, bright creature doing here? “My daughter really enjoyed your show.” At that, I was brought back to reality. Held off to her side was a stroller containing a puffy baby girl with little wisps of blonde hair.

Oh shit, I thought, my visions of caressing this stunning beauty quickly melting away. She’s a mom. Fuck. All hope of even one night of lesbian ecstasy with this woman slipped out of my grasp. If there’s a baby, somewhere there’s a daddy. Suddenly, I realized I still hadn’t responded to her.

“Thank you,” I said, awkwardly pushing my long bangs behind my ear. I tried to think of something witty to say, but I was still caught up in her inhuman beauty.

“If you don’t mind me asking,” she continued, a note of confidence in her voice. “What are you doing playing kids’ songs in a library? I mean, you’re pretty talented.” At this, I blushed. The sassy bitch in me was frustrated at my smitten school girl behavior. What was it about this girl that had me so off my game?

“Oh, well, you know, it’s a job,” I sputtered, mentally slapping myself. I try to muster up my usual bravado. “But I’m gonna go far. Right now I’m playing for kids in a library, but soon I’ll be the next Stevie Nicks.” I flashed her a smile, and realized too late that it was one of my flirtiest.

Dani, your lesbianism is showing, I thought to myself. I expected her to freak out and make an excuse to leave, but instead she laughed. And ugh, what a rich laugh it was.

“I’m Fleur,” she informed me, friendliness and (was I imagining this?) flirtatiousness lining her voice. “This is my little girl Mikayla. Mikki, for short.”

“I’m Dani,” I told her. I decided to go out on a limb and try consciously flirting with her to see if she flirted back. “So, is there a Mr. Fleur in the picture?”

“Nope,” she replied smiling. She eyed me mischievously. “Unfortunately, he didn’t have all the things I wanted.”

“Oh?” I said, my eyebrow raised questioningly. “And what would those things be?” She looked me right in the eye.

“Well, lady parts for one,” she told me frankly. And that was the moment I knew I’d found myself a bona fide Sapphic goddess.

“And in the dark of the night, I know you’re there. I know you’re there.”

Fleur applauds me, as I finish playing my latest song for her. I can’t help but feel a bubble of satisfaction within me. It doesn’t matter how many times she tells me she likes my playing, every time is like that first time. My eyes stay locked on my radiant femme, as I set my guitar off to the side. The way the light hits her, it’s like she’s the one lighting this room and not the lamp.

“All right, be honest,” I say earnestly. “It was kind of shitty, wasn’t it?” Ever since becoming a part of Fleur’s (and subsequently Mikki’s) life, my free time that used to be devoted solely to writing music is now severely depleted. I know my musical prowess isn’t as sharp as it used to be. I had to give up my job at the library because it didn’t pay nearly enough for what we need. Now I work at Forever 21, and sing at The Thirsty Siren on weekends. And when I’m not at work, Fleur is either at her job at Macy’s or taking online classes. That leaves me to take care of Mikki. So, like I said, very little time to work on my music. Still, nothing can keep me from my dreams, right?

Sometimes I feel the burn of my sacrifice late at night, and resentment smothers me like a rag of chloroform. I get so fucking angry and just want to fight with Fleur, scream at her for doing this to me. But just when I turn over in bed or sit up with rage and I see her, all my angry resolve fades. She didn’t do this to me. I chose this life. And I chose it because I love her so goddamn much. But still, sometimes when I’m alone, I feel that nagging at the back of my mind, telling me I should be out there pursuing my dreams. I haven’t told Fleur any of this though. I don’t want to make her feel guilty.

“And no bullshitting me,” I add, looking at her meaningfully. She smiles knowingly, a laugh escaping her lips.

“All right, it’s not as good as some of your older stuff,” she admits kindly. “But it’s still good. Really good.” She smiles at me wryly. “Better than half of what’s on the radio anyway. I mean, who told Jason Derulo that trumpet music was sexy?”

“Someone who did not have his best interests at heart,” I joke. She laughs her rich laugh, and a warmth surges inside of me. “But someday, I’ll be the one on the radio with something to say.” Fleur looks at me considering.

“Why ‘someday’?” she asks. “Why not now?” I look dubiously at her.

“You know why not now,” I tell her, trying my hardest to keep any hidden resentment under control. “It’s not— it’s not practical. We have a baby to feed, you’re taking classes, we have jobs. Believe me, I’d love to be out there being a fucking rock star—“ I cut myself off, realizing my wistfulness for that life is betraying me. I flash a guilty look at Fleur. “But this—what we have— it’s more important right now. My dreams can wait.” I feel a painful pang at that. This was the first time I’ve admitted that out loud. Somehow, that just makes it all the more real. And difficult.

Fleur regards me seriously. I can see by the hard look in her eyes that she’s contemplating what I’ve said, determining the best way to respond. She lets out a deep breath.

“But I don’t want to make you do that,” she says weakly, though I can see in her expression this is not what she really wanted to say. I decide not to press the matter, because I know what’s holding her back is Mikki.

“You’re not,” I assure her, taking her hands and looking into her clear blue eyes. I watch her go soft, as she looks back into my brown ones. “I’m doing this because I want to. You know I never do anything I don’t want to, how stubborn I am. And I want to do this because I love you. Mikki too.”

“I know,” she says softly. “I love you too.” A look of guilt passes across her face, and I know it’s because she still blames herself for my dreams being put on hold. Instead of trying to assuage her guilt with more feeble assurances, I instead pull her face close to me and kiss her. She immediately falls into the kiss. Her lips are so soft and supple. Wrapped up in the moment, I kiss her hard. Then, I pull away and just look at her.

“Fleur,” I say lovingly, after a few moments of silence. “There is nothing in this world that I would put ahead of you. You— you’re my everything.” Her eyes well up with tears, but she does not let them fall.

That night we make love, banishing all thoughts of my nonexistent music career from our minds. As I watch her breathing slow as she drifts off into sleep, I know the matter is dropped. For now.

The look Fleur gives me before she leaves for work the next day confirms as much. Throughout the rest of the day, I avoid her as much as possible so as to dodge the subject. When Fleur returns home and I go off to my weekend job at the bar, I pretend to be in a rush. I know she knows I’m not really in a hurry, but fortunately she doesn’t call me on my bullshit. But I already know tonight she won’t let me deflect her.

I play my set, the entire time preoccupied by the things Fleur had said last night. The pain in her eyes stings me. I hate making her feel bad like this. I consider humoring her and pretending to start figuring out how to make my big break into the entertainment world. But by the end of my set, I have reaffirmed my resolve to focus on my girls and not on me.

As I drive home, I dread the inevitable argument Fleur and I will get into over this. If anyone in the world could match my level of stubbornness, it’s Fleur. Although, she’s much classier than I am, I’ll give her that. I pull into the apartment complex’s parking lot still having no idea what I’m going to say to her.

I enter the apartment, trying to be stealthy and hoping that maybe she fell asleep early and I won’t have to have this discussion again so soon. But that hope is soon dashed because my infuriating little lover looks directly at me from the dining room table, where she’s sitting with her laptop open.

She watches me stoically, and I wordlessly take a seat across from her at the table. I brace myself for Fleur’s anger. She never yells, but the calm voice she does use when angry is actually scarier. I decide to let her speak first. Instead, she produces a stack of five CDs from on top of her laptop keyboard, and silently pushes them towards me. On top of them is a piece of paper with addresses on it. Addresses of record companies.

“What’s this?” I ask her, confused.

“Your demos,” she replies, matter-of-factly. A smile tugs at her cheek. “I burned the songs you’d recorded on these CDs and looked up places for you to send them.”

“Fleur, I-“ I begin, ready to tell her things hadn’t changed since yesterday.

“You’ve done so much for us,” she interjects, her voice full of love and gratitude. “I thought, at the very least, you deserve to have a choice. So, I burned a few copies of your demos and, if you want, you can mail them out. Or, you can wait. I at least owe you this, Dani. Even you can’t argue with that.” I am stunned.

“Thank you, Fleur,” I say, still in disbelief. Leave it to Fleur to find a way to make us both happy. “I’ll—I’ll think about it. I love you.” She flashes her glowing smile.

“I love you too.”

I walk slowly to the mailbox, my demos kept safely inside my purse. Each one is wrapped and labeled to go to a different recording studio. As I approach the mailbox, I grow anxious. Do I really want to send these? What if someone likes my songs? What if someone wants to sign me? What if that means having to leave Fleur and Mikki?

I stand in front of the mailbox, demos in hand. Six months ago, I thought I had to get here on my own. But then, everything changed.

“Nothing can keep me from my dreams,” my own words echo in my head. With a firm resolve, I stuff my demos back into my purse and head home.

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