Episode 1: Walking
It's been three months since Jude left for her big adventure in London. Jude is asleep in her fancy apartment in London. At least she was, until…
Tu du tudu dudu, tu du tudu dudu.
"Err… Hello?" I ask, still half asleep.
"Jude! Oh my god, guess where I am!"
"Well, you're definitely not sleeping in bed, like I was."
"Yeah, yeah, I know it's like two a.m. over there or something, but you need to hear this!"
I give up the little hope I had of this being a short conversation, so I sit up in my bed and put the light on. "Okay Sadie. Tell me what's going on."
I walk over to the kitchen to get a bowl of cereal. I might as well get comfortable for Sadie's "big news". The last time she called me in the middle of the night was to tell me there was a big sale in town. Like I could go. So I wasn't expecting much, until she said: "Tommy is here."
I put down my cereal. A few weeks after I left, Tommy disappeared to god knows where and nobody has seen him since then. A fact that I try not to think about because it makes me anxious. Although I left, I didn't mean to hurt him. Which of course I did. I just hope he didn't do anything stupid.
"Tommy?" I ask, trying to keep the shakiness out of my voice.
"Yes. And guess what? He. Made. An. Album."
"What?" So far for doing anything stupid. Tommy made an album before I had finished mine here in London? How had he done that? I wasn't going to admit it to anybody, but lately writing songs hadn't been going that well. Okay, who am I kidding, the last few weeks not a single decent lyric has left my pen.
"I know right! Remember Frozen? Well, he mixed it up and wrote some new stuff and now it's done, apparently. He just showed us all and sung something. And it was good."
My cereal was getting mushy, lying in the milk. I couldn't utter a word. He had finished Frozen? Alone? Without me?
I know I shouldn't be upset about this, but it felt like a punch to the stomach. The things I had done to get that Frozen-demo and the way he'd reacted back then. I never would have thought he still wanted to do something with it. And if he did, I thought it would have been with me.
"Jude, are you still there?"
I swallow. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm still here."
"Are you okay, Jude? I mean, you never talked about him anymore. I thought you guys were over. I mean, I thought you were over him. And you went to London, so I figured… I mean, I'm sorry Jude. I shouldn't have said anything."
I sigh. "It's okay, Sadie. Really, I'm glad you told me."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, Sadie." I try to sound more cheerful. "Is he still there?" I'm almost too afraid to ask.
"Err... no, I think he left. Something about a TV-show tomorrow morning. I don't have his schedule." She sounds a bit grumpy.
"Aaah, so you're still working your way up there? How has Darius been?"
I hear Sadie sighing over the phone. "Still giving me more work and more dinners I have to attend for World Instant Star. But only business dinners, of course."
"So he still hasn't asked you out?" I say teasingly. After Kwest had started working for Nana's Basement, Sadie had opened her attack on Darius, but the fish wasn't biting.
"He will, Jude. He will." She says confident.
"Big D doesn't stand a chance." I smile.
"No!" Sadie laughs. "In fact, he's calling me right now. Actually, it's more like shouting. I have to go see what he wants."
"Okay! Nice talking to you, sis. Even though it's in the middle of the night."
"Yeah, sorry about that. Talk to you soon, okay?"
I throw away my mushy cereal and put the empty bowl in the dishwasher. Then I walk over to the living room, sit on my couch and wrap a blanket around me. Suddenly I feel alone. It seems like the world of G major is spinning around and flying off and I'm left behind. It should be the other way around, right? So why isn't it? Why isn't this adventure taking off? Why isn't my dream coming true? What's missing?
When I wake up, it feels like I haven't slept at all. Which is more or less true. After Sadie's call I stayed up thinking for hours. And after I finally realized what I needed, it was too late to make a transatlantic call. It would have to wait until tonight.
I take a quick shower, brush my hair, take my purse and get out. When I get to my tube station I see it I've just missed one. Ah well, I rather wait five minutes for the next one than walk.
When I arrive at Bermondsey Records, I take the backdoor to "my" studio. It kind of is my studio. I write and produce this album. All by myself. And I like it.
At least, I would if I could write anything good. I'm dying to make that call but I'm not as cruel as Sadie, so I don't want to wake him up.
By noon I have some chords and a melody, but the words still aren't coming. I decide to get something to eat. You can't write on an empty stomach or something like that. I walk over to the restaurant. Yes, there is a restaurant here. And the food is good. Today I feel like giving myself a treat, so I order fish and chips. Or maybe it's more like comfort food. I'm still shook up from Sadie's phone call. Tommy, Tommy, Tommy. My mind just can't stop thinking about him. For the last few months I'd been forcing myself not to think about him and now not a minute passes without doing so.
After lunch I play with some chord progressions until Nicola walks in. "How are things going, Jude?"
"Good. It's going really well." I lie. Convincingly, I hope.
"Really? I mean, you've been saying that for quite a while now, but we haven't heard anything. I don't mean to pressure you, but some people are getting a little impatient." She says. "Is there something wrong, Jude? Something I can help with maybe? Do you need more instruments, more musicians,…?"
"No, no. Everything's fine." I try to smile. "It's just that I want it to be perfect before anyone hears anything, you know. I don't want to let you down. I swear, I'll have something done and finished by next week or so. It just needs a few finishing touches."
"Finishing touches?" she asks, not really convinced.
I nod. "Yes, just give me one more week, and then I'll have something."
"Okay, Jude. I trust you." She wants to believe me; I can see it in her eyes. "I have to go now. I'll see you around!"
When she closes the door I bang my head against the wall. I try to bang the lyrics out of my brain, but they're stuck in there.
I decide I might as well call it quits for today and I sneak out.
It's still raining, so I take the tube to my apartment. When I get there I look at my watch and start counting. After a few recounts - my math skills definitely didn't improve after high school- , I figure out how late it is at home.
I can call him.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
"Still calling me that, Spiederman?" I laugh.
"Damn right I am. How are things in rainy London?"
"Good! Things are going great here."
"Yeah right, as if you would call me if everything was "great"."
Ugh, he knows me too well. I try to explain my writing problems to him.
"And how exactly can I help you with that? I never have problems writing. In fact, my solo career in flying *peeeeewwww* off!"
"I know, Spied. That's why I called you: you never have a problem writing stuff. And I never had until I got here. What's wrong with me?"
"Dude, there are a lot of things wrong with you, but –"
"Don't call me that!" Spiederman says between his teeth.
"Will you just help me, Spied?" I ask desperately.
"You know I'm just messing with you, Jude. Of course I'll help you. But you have to tell me why you're struggling, though. Otherwise, there's nothing I can do."
"I don't know why I'm struggling. It's just… I got here and the first few weeks everything went great and the words were coming out and I couldn't stop them. And then they gradually slowed to come until they didn't come at all anymore. And when I re-read the stuff I wrote those first few weeks, I don't like it anymore. It's like they're not mine."
I feel like some weight has been lifted off my shoulders. It feels so good to finally admit this to someone.
"I think I know what the problem is."
"You do?" Hope fills my voice.
"Yes, I do. The only time when you can't write is when you don't want to know what will come out if you let the words flow. You're afraid of what you're going to write. You're shielding something from yourself. Be honest, Jude. Just write from the stomach."
"Don't you mean from the heart?" I laugh.
"No. Your heart follows your brain and your brain is blocking you. But that feeling in your gut, that can never lie to you. Like when you want to eat more hot chicken wings and you tell yourself you can take it and you want to eat it so badly? But then your stomach tells you: dude, stop eating, you're going to puke. You cannot not feel it. You can tell yourself you're okay, but your stomach doesn't lie."
Although Spiederman's use of words still sounds strange to me, I start to see what means.
"You see?" Spiederman asks.
"Yeah. I got it. I think."
"Awesome. Spiederman: music genius at your service."
Humble as always, but I can't help but laugh. "Thanks, Spied."
"No problem, Jude. I'm always here for you, you know that, right?
"Yeah." I smile. "Thanks again."
"I got to go now, Jamie wants me to do another take..."
"You're with Jamie? Can I speak to him?"
"Yeah, I'll give him the phone. Bye Jude!"
"Bye Spied. And hey, I miss jamming with you."
"Me too, Jude. Me too."
I hear some noises in the background and then there's my best friend: "Hi Jude."
"Jamie." It feels so good to hear his voice. I mean, I call him once in a while, but I miss him.
"So what's up Jude? Everything going okay over there?"
"Yeah, sort of." I make a face but then I remember he can't see that over the phone. "It's just… Sadie called me last night. Well, actually, she called me in the middle of the night."
"So you've heard about Tommy?"
"Well I have to admit I'm glad I don't have to tell you. Are you doing okay?"
"I don't know. I thought I was doing fine. I haven't thought about him for months. Well, I forced myself not to. And now I can't escape it anymore. I can't ignore it anymore. And he wrote an album and I'm not writing anything."
"So you think your writing problems have something to do with Tommy not being there to help you?"
Jamie always understands what I really want to say but don't dare to admit. He's like a mind reader, really.
"Yeah. I'm scared, Jamie. What if I can't do it without him?"
"Jude, that's bullshit. You wrote songs way before you met Tommy. You won Instant Star without Quincy, remember? You did that all on your own! You can write songs on your own Jude, you always have. Before Instant Star and even after! When you were on tour, Tommy wasn't there and still you wrote songs."
"Well they're still songs! Doesn't matter that they were about him. You can write about anything, Jude. Don't limit yourself because of Quincy. You can do better than that. You can do it without him. I believe in you."
I sigh. "Thanks Jamie, that's just what I needed to hear. You're still my best friend even though there's an ocean between us. You know that, right?"
"Yeah, Jude. I know." I can almost hear him smiling.
"So Nana's Basement is doing pretty well, I hear!"
"Yes, Spiederman is doing a really good job. He's even better than I thought he was. Soon he'll be ready to go on tour!"
I hear some shouting in the background.
"Jamie, what's going on?"
"Spiederman's saying something about a TV-show, I'll go take a look."
After a long pause, he's back. "Jude, put on your TV. Channel 5."
"Why? What's -"
"It's Tommy, he's on TV. He's saying something about a song. You're going to want to hear this."
I rush over to my TV.