As it has been an awfully long time since I last managed to publish something, I decided to go for another Shuffle Challenge as a little exercise (while still working on the story that has been in the making since bleeding April!)


1. Karl Jenkins: Save Me From Bloody Men (from "The Armed Man: A Mass For Peace")

Marching, marching, marching. Had I ever done anything else than marching? I couldn't remember. I was tired, worn out, feet blistering, boots chafing, every inch of cloth upon my body drenched in sweat.

And for what?

I was sure we'd never win that war, it would never end.


2. Bruce Springsteen: Johnny 99

Sometimes, I wondered what had become of my old friend Billy.

He had been a charmer, girls at his beck and call, but he had also been a bit of a troublemaker, getting into pub brawls and going on very stupid dares.

He'd even been arrested once, for breaking into his uncle's house. I had refused to take part when he suggested one drunken night that he'd try to get into Uncle Jack's home and snatch a bottle of his best brandy for us to drink after the port bar had closed down. His mother almost died with embarrassment, and I was awfully embarrassed, too, when she lectured Billy and told him to take a leaf out of my book, for I would never do such stupid things.


3. Bonnie Bianco & Pierre Cosso: Stay

"You are my life", Nell had written in the letter she gave me before I left for my long overseas trip.

What a beautiful thing to say, and what a terrible thing!

What a great responsibility this meant for me.

Sometimes I almost felt it was too much. There were myriads of things that might happen, that might mean I would not return. What would she do then? Would she be able to cope?

I told myself not to be stupid and not to sound like an old man.

I would be back, of course, and then I would be there to stay. For the rest of my, of her, of our life.


4. The Waterboys: Mad As the Mist and Snow

I ran across the fields in the howling wind, stumbling occasionally on the freshly turned earth. I knew I was not allowed to be here, and yet I was, running despite the cold air that stung my lungs, despite the fine chilly drizzle that began to fall.

I wanted to run until I could run no more and then hide somewhere they couldn't find me. If they couldn't find me, they couldn't make me leave and move into that stupid old house of Dan's, far away from Grandma and Grandpa and the sea and everything I loved.

I ran and screamed and felt a wetness on my face that I only later realized was not cold rain but bitter tears.


5. The Connells: '74-'75

Some days already begin in a way that clearly says you should have stayed in bed that morning.

After spilling on myself at breakfast, almost falling on my face when I got off the bus, and realizing outside the door of the shop that I had forgotten my key, I got into an utterly silly and pointless row with Donnie. We hardly ever quarreled, but there was something about that wintrily cold day in April that got to both of us.

Back home, I almost yelled at Evelyn, too, for having forgotten to buy groceries on her way home as she'd promised to do, but when I saw her face that spoke volumes about having had just as awful a day as I had, I decided to go easy on her.

"I'm glad things are good at home at least", she sighed and gave me a heartfelt kiss.


6. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Concerto #5 in D (K. 175) – 1st movement: Allegro

We entered the park half an hour early. The traffic had been less troublesome than usual, so we had all the time in the world to find our seats.

I was not too fond of classical music, to Evelyn's eternal chagrin, but Annie and Paul both had their mother's penchant for Mozart, so we had promised them to attend one of the park concerts in summer.

They were both finely decked out in their best clothes, Paul in the little dark suit and bow tie we had bought him for the wedding of one of Evelyn's friends, Annie in a blue polka-dot dress with a white collar and white patent-leather shoes with low heels. She was utterly proud of them, her first heeled shoes ever.

Rows of chairs had been put up on the circular lawn at the center of the small park, with all kinds of flowers lavishly blooming at the border of the lawn, and there were flaming torches here and there, creating a festive and somewhat mysterious atmosphere.

We had a little stroll around the park before we took our seats to avoid Paul beginning to fidget before the concert had even started. He usually got ants in his pants quickly, but this time, I needn't have worried.

From the first moment the orchestra arrived one by one, taking their places on the dais, he sat riveted.

Even I could, for the first time, see Mozart's charm.


7. Bruce Springsteen: Harry's Place

Harry's bar had become the centre of my world. Harry's jovial jokes, Joan's hearty cooking, the chats with the regulars, and of course, Rosie.

I didn't miss home as much as I used to. I knew that time in my life was over, and I found that I didn't feel the slightest urge to go back there any more.

Was this my home now?

I wasn't sure if it really felt like home, but this dark, crowded bar with the upright piano at the rear wall and the closely spaced tables had surely become the place I belonged for the moment.


8. Mark Knopfler: Go, Love

I didn't want her to go.

For my own sake, I wanted her to stay. I never wanted to let her go again.

But at the same time, I wanted her to go.

I couldn't allow her to stay.

If I consciously decided to risk my life by staying, it was my own decision.

If she decided to stay, it would be more for me than anything else.

I couldn't let her do that, so I tried to drive her away.

I thought I had succeeded, until she showed up outside my radio shack.

I surrendered for the moment, but when the shelling began, I had no choice but to make her leave.

I left her on the boat with John and paddled back to the shore as quickly as I could, feeling like the greatest shit on earth, but at least she had a chance at getting back to safety now.

That I never heard of her again was probably what I deserved for not letting her in on my plans.

Maybe she had decided to go after all, to disappear from my life completely.

I couldn't blame her.


9. Kings of Convenience: Live Long

Annie and Evelyn were wading into the surf while I lay in the sand, having decided to skip the swimming because my leg was giving me trouble.

I was content to watch them as Evelyn bent for a shell or something and Annie began to dance in the shallow water, whirling happily, squealing as she splashed herself and her mother, her coppery hair flying. There was nothing like a child's easy happiness by the seaside.


10. Roxette: Small Talk

I've often heard people saying that a good marriage is all about talking.

Yes, it is, in a way.

Talking about the important things and the small, everyday things. Actually wanting to talk. I had never been much of a talker, but if there was one person I liked talking to, it was her.

Maybe that was because she could just as comfortably sit in companionable silence with me as we could have long, deep conversations about pretty much everything.