Warning: swear words and alcohol mentioned in this post.
Bo Burnham has this song about how modern pop songs are vague and stupid. You may have heard it…
Anyway, I was recently listening to a CD by a local band, Randall Shreve and the Sideshow (now Randall Shreve and the Devilles), and I realized that one reason I like this band is that their songs (in my opinion) do the opposite of those that Bo Burnham is talking about here. Aside from the unique sound of their music, practically every song I listen to on that CD paints a story in my head, and after a while, I really wanted to write some of these stories down. So I did. They’re really more vignettes than stories, but I guess that happens a lot in the fanfiction world. I guess this is fanfiction. Songfiction?
And I guess ‘cuz I don’t drink, I started with a song titled “Alcohol.”
And I also decided to set it in a fictional world and throw in some loose connections to The Twelve Brothers. Why? Because I can.
When Soraya walked in to her office on Monday morning, she already had people clambering for her attention.
“Good morning, Ms. Fontaine,” her assistant, Agnes, said as she approached her office, “Mr. MacWilliam called to discuss the merger. He said he would wait, but I insisted he make an appointment to speak with you when you were free. He’s coming in at ten tomorrow.” Soraya raised an eyebrow, knowing that Agnes wouldn’t have scheduled him for tomorrow unless there was something else. “And your brother, Isaac’s on line two,” Agnes finished.
For a brief moment, Soraya understood why bosses had affairs with their assistants. She would have kissed Agnes right there, were she not already engaged to one of the girls in IT. The fact was, Agnes understood how much Soraya valued family. She knew Soraya not only would sacrifice the entire company for her brothers, but she had already threatened to do it once. If I ever do give up the company, thought Soraya, I’m giving it to Agnes.
“Thanks Agnes, I’ll get it in my office.”
“Of course, Ms. Fontaine.”
Soraya walked into her office, closing the door with a quick gesture. Magic was rare in Thuo, but she was one of the lucky ones. Out of thirteen siblings, she was the only one who had inherited the gift from her father–the reason he had given the company to her, rather than the boys. She sat down in her chair and picked up the phone.
“Soraya!” Isaac’s distinctive lilt came over the line. He had been living out of the country for the last seventeen years, and at sixty-three, he was beginning to show his age, even in his voice.
“Hey Isaac. What’s the problem?” She cut right to the chase. With the fees he would be racking up, she knew he would only make an overseas phone call if there was a problem.
“Have you heard from Ben lately?”
“Not for a few days, why?”
“He drunk dialed me yesterday. Sounds like that girl he was living with–Frida? left him. Anyway, I figured you were closer to him, and you might be able to more about it.”
Soraya was closer in more ways than one. Not only was her youngest brother quite fond of her, he lived less than an hour away. “Thanks Isaac. I hadn’t heard. I’ll look in on him.”
“Thanks Soraya. Oh, and, Soraya?”
“You need to come by. Meet your new grand-niece.”
Soraya smiled. Isaac knew how Soraya felt about family too. “I’m booking the tickets as soon as we finish the merger.”
“Alright. Take care.”
“You too, Isaac.”
Soraya hung up the phone and walked out of the office again. “Agnes, I don’t have any appointments today, do I?”
“Nope.” Agnes glanced at her desk calendar, though Soraya had a feeling she didn’t need to. “Family business?” she asked.
“You know me too well.”
“Is there a time we can expect you back?”
Soraya shook her head. “Tomorrow at ten. But I’ll be at Ben’s if there’s an emergency.”
Agnes nodded and jotted something down on the desk calendar. Then she looked up. “Good luck.”
Ben didn’t answer his door when Soraya knocked, so she spoke a word into the lock. It didn’t work with every door, but Ben’s was familiar with her. The door swung open, revealing Ben at his dining table, a half-full bottle in one hand, and an empty one laying on the table next to him.
“Hey! Is my sister!” He slurred as she walked in.
Soraya strode to the table, picked up the empty bottle, and dropped it with a thud.
Ben jumped. “Hey! You coulda broke that.”
“That’s not the one I want to break.” Soraya rubbed her face, trying to control her anger. She sat down next to him. “Isaac told me about Frida. When did she leave?”
“And you haven’t drunk yourself to death?”
Ben looked down at his shirt, then at the bottle in his hand, then at Soraya. He shrugged. “Guess not.”
“I think that’s enough of that.” Soraya tried to take the bottle from Ben’s hand, but he fought her. After a short tug-of-war, they both lost their grip and it smashed to the floor.
Ben looked at the puddle on the tile. “Well, that’s a waste.”
“Trust me. It’s not helping you.”
Ben nodded. “You’re right. But you could help me!”
Soraya stood up. “Yeah,” she said. “I can give you a bath and get you out of this hole for a few days.” She tried to help him stand, but he swatted her away.
“No,” he said, “You can turn her into a raven! That’s what dad turned us into, right? When he was afraid one of us would steal the company? Seven years as a raven…”
“I am not turning Frida into a raven!” Soraya snapped.
“You could turn me into a raven. I think I made a better raven than I did a brother.”
“I am not turning anyone into a raven.” Soraya tried to pull her brother out of his chair, but he was too heavy for her.
“Come on! You’ve got to have some kind of magic that will make me better!”
Soraya continued to tug at her brother’s arm. “You can’t just…” Then she stopped. “Actually,” she told him, “I do think I have a spell that will work. But we’re going to need some more alcohol first.”
Ben pointed to the broken bottle on the floor. “But you broke mine.”
“Then we’ll just have to get more at my house,” Soraya said.
“Now you’re talking.”
Soraya’s alarm went off at seven the next morning. As she walked into the kitchen, she heard a low moan from the sofa. She ducked into the living room and flicked on the light. Ben shielded his eyes. “Good morning,” she said, “How are you feeling?”
“If you want to come to the kitchen, I’ll make you breakfast.” Soraya went back into the kitchen and put some bacon on the stove. As she was cracking eggs into a pan. she heard Ben stumble in and sit in a chair at the kitchen island.
“When did I get here?” he asked.
“Yesterday,” Soraya said, continuing to crack eggs into the pan. “I went to your house after Isaac called.”
“Isaac called you?”
“Yeah. You called him when Frida left you.”
“I kind of remember that,” Ben said.
Soraya turned around to look at him. His eyes were red and his brown hair was tousled. He held his head in his hand. She waved a bottle of whiskey at him. “hair of the dog?” she asked.
“Oh, God no.” he turned away from the bottle and she smiled.
Soraya set the bottle on the counter in front of him and returned her attention to the stove. “Why did she leave you anyway?”
“Fell in love with somebody else. Apparently they’d been dating for six months.”
Soraya turned around. “And how long had you two been living together?”
“Two years. I… would you mind if I stayed here for a few days? I just… we bought that furniture together. All the pictures… her face is all over that house.”
Soraya flipped the eggs. “Stay here as long as you like.”
“Soraya?” She turned when he called her name. “Could you also move this?” Ben pointed to the bottle of whiskey. “Just looking at it makes me want to vomit.”
Soraya stashed it under the counter. “Just wanted to make sure it worked.”
“Make sure what…” Ben raised his head slowly to look at her. “You did magic on me?”
Soraya shurgged. “Well, you did ask if I could do something to fix you.”
“Made you sick of alcohol. Can’t even look at it.”
“Great,” Ben said as Soraya put the eggs on a plate, “I’ll be sober for the rest of my life.”
“Nonsense. The spell only lasts a couple of months.”
“A couple of months!”
Soraya set the plate in front of him. “By then, you should have figured out a healthier way to grieve. Now eat breakfast. I’ll take you to work.”
Ben picked up a fork and stabbed the eggs. “All that on top of a Monday.”
“Oh, I have one more thing to tell you,” Soraya said, catching Ben with his mouth full. “It’s not Monday.”