Response to Ipod Shuffle Challenge. Tagged by Frogster - darn! I was hoping to spend my Saturday morning doing the laundry...

Keep listening and you just might find…

1. Sleeping with the Lights on - Busted

I watched her walk up to the security gates. Elegant figure, back straight, hair a swinging curtain. Then, just as she had to hand over her passport, she stumbled. That was typical Nora.

She didn't flinch. Even then, when she knew I'd be smiling, she didn't turn and I knew for certain that she was the sand slipping through my fingers.

I'd told her how I felt. Silently, in my head, I'd yelled it at her as the truck with their things pulled out of our drive way. We could have made this work! We were becoming a family. My boys and Marti. You and your girls. But equally silently, she'd refused to listen; she just took her girls and walked out of my life. Out of our lives.

I watched her get on that plane; it was like a slow motion horror film. And now I'm left here, no comfort to my stunned kids, looking at old photographs and sleeping with the lights on.

2. Mixed Up World - Sophie Ellis Bextor

She likes him? She seems to like him. She said she was thinking about liking him. Ugh! I like her. At least I think I like her. A lot. But he likes her too and I can't be a jerk about it. I'm most definitely not a jerk. Maybe there's someone else who likes him. Who'll be able to replace her. Sheesh, no one can replace her. But maybe somewhere out there in the crowds of kids looking at us there's someone? Oh lord, why won't these voices in my head just shut up and let me be?

'Hey Lizzie!'

'What is it? Come on Ed, I'm in a hurry, the match starts in five. I'm actually shaking – look.' She held out her hands to show him. Short clipped nails. Nothing fancy. Just perfectly tapering fingers, slim wrists.

Edwin took her hands and gave them a gentle squeeze. 'You'll do great, Liz, you're a real tough girl. Go break a leg!' She gave him one of her fireworks and starburst smiles. And the game was on.

Maybe this friendship thing wasn't so bad after all. It was like a point of calm in a mixed up world. Always there, if you just stopped going insane long enough to look, and always unfurling around the possibility of something else.

3. Diamonds and Rust – Joan Baez

I've been waiting for you all night. I've sat in this flipped out dim moronic hotel room, looking at all the dirt brown walls thinking about all the insults you ever hurled at me, all the ways you hated me and looked at me as if I was the dirt under your shoes. What have you ever offered me? I called you darling, in my head. You gave me rust and secret tears.

I never really thought you'd come to me. I was always just the foil to your perfection. I was just the one you'd take out your fears on when one of the in crowd put you down; I was the one you never really looked at except when you thought you could be magnanimous and make yourself feel good by doing me a favour or stand on the moral high ground by reminding me of my faults. I was so thrilled by even the tiniest of your smiles, the smallest of the crumbs from your overflowing beauty. I'd have taken anything from you, Casey, even poison. And now, just when I think I'm never going to see you again, when I'm ready to face the future without you, you arrive?

'Shh, Derek. I'm not going back to him. Ever. Look? I packed my bags. Here I am, if you still want me.' You say, offering me my tears back, only this time they're gleaming diamonds.

4. Sweet Dreams My LAX – Rachel Stevens

'Casey'. His voice was loud, confident, carrying down the corridor and turning people's heads so that everyone looked at her.

'Max?' She was looking gorgeous, her hair falling in waves across a particularly becoming high-collared white shirt.

'D'you wanna' catch a movie or something? I know you're not doing anything tomorrow evening, Emily told me, so don't make an excuse. You've been moping.'

He was leering at her as if he wanted to eat her up. So were some of the boys on his team, who were strolling along beside him. And damn, she did look particularly good today. Her denim skirt was elegant and fell to her knees, hugging her hips on the way.

Everyone was gawping. You could see that they all thought she'd say yes. None of these jerks knew her mind or her soul.

So, although she'd cried for days when he broke up with her, she said, 'In your dreams, Max!' and turned on her heel, laughing aloud when she glimpsed Derek's completely awed expression.

Two birds with one stone? Sweet!

5. Hotel California – The Eagles


'What? What? Why are you waking me up again? Oh! Jeez!'

The walls were shaking, again. The table beside the bed was juddering up and down. Casey hadn't been able to sleep all night. This was the sixth time she'd woken him.

'Okay, okay, I'll go see what they're doing. Again. Just don't open the door to anyone while I'm gone. Got it? You're just a bit too hot for this place.' He winked at her. How could he wink at her at a time like this?

Casey's eyes were puffy from lack of sleep. Her head ached. This road trip across the States had been her idea. All hers. Of course Derek had scoffed at her and wanted to lie on a beach in the sun. But she knew that they'd never get to know each other better unless they found themselves on new turf. And it had all been going well, until they'd checked into this infernal hotel with its presidential suite, champagne and the mobsters next door, who seemed, for the fifth time that night to have just shot someone.


'What? I'm just getting my jeans on. Come on Case, gimme a break!'

'Don't go. Come back to bed.'

'Really? But you can't sleep.'

'Really.' There was another crash from the room next to their suite.

'Fancy you not being a drama queen for once!' Smiling sleepily, he climbed back into bed and pulled her against his chest, burying his face in her hair.

'Hey! I don't want my husband getting injured on our honeymoon.'

6. Hole in the Head – Sugababes

'You'll miss me'. Casey sounded confident. She was circling his room in her pyjamas, a slight smile on her face.

'Like hell I will.' Derek wasn't going to give anything away. But he had unplugged his headphones.

'Every night when I'm not here to bug you about homework or the dishes or your life – you'll think about me.'

'Get out of my room.'

'When I call mom and tell her I'm going on a hot date with my roommate. You'll kick yourself and miss me.'

'What did you say?'

'You heard me.'

Derek groaned. 'Tell me again, why are you in here?'

'I want you to come with me. To Toronto.'


'Okay? You will? You mean, you'll actually take up that offer? You'll come? I convinced you? Oh! Oh!' She was hopping from foot to foot a wide grin on her face.

'I already did. I'm your roommate. Now, about that hot date…' It was Derek's turn to smirk at her.

7. Bird on a Wire - Leonard Cohen

I'm trying. Can't she tell I'm trying, as best as I know how, to be a good person, a gentleman to her? She makes me want to do things I never would. I know I've been unkind. I hope she understand why I was like that, I wanted to push her away, because I didn't want to hurt her. I hope she looks into my eyes and sees how I really feel. I know I haven't played by the rules or appeared to be faithful or accepted the hands people reached out to me, especially her. Everywhere I turn I see signs telling me what I need to do. But I'm caught. I'm weak. When she looks at me, I'm just completely undone.

8. Lazy Eye – Silversun Pickups

C's thoughts: He's been out on that dance floor with Sally now for three songs. They look pretty cozy. Her hair looks perfect. This must be serious. Okay, I don't know why I thought I'd come to this glitzy preppy thing. It sucks. And there's Max, off with his new girl. I should be home revising. But I'm like that foolish proverbial moth; just can't seem to avoid getting my wings singed. Yes, and this was supposed to be my day. I'd been waiting for this moment for so long. Maybe all my life. And then he goes and asks her, not me. What the hell. There's no law against leaving is there? Na, thought not.

D's thoughts: She's been watching me all evening. And it's made me feel incredible, high, like my heart's going to burst out of my chest. Doesn't she know that there's no one else in the room even remotely as pretty? But it's her sheer class that always floors me. I don't know why I didn't smile when our eyes met just now. Ha. Sally probably thought I was flirting. But I'm just a stand-in, right. I know who my girl really is. Hey, where's she gone?

'Okay if I get some air, Sally?' I say, motioning to Sam to come and dance with her. He grins joyfully, striding over. He's had a crush on Sally for months,

'Sure.' Sally looks perplexed, then amused as Sam grabs her hand.

I'm out of here.

Now, where's my girl?

9. Re: Stacks – Bon Iver

Do any of them know how lonely it is being the littlest and the only one without an evil not-blood-related twin to hate and fight with and who'll always love me more than anything in the whole huge world? Here we are in the middle of nowhere in this silly caravan with nothing but haystacks to look at, and all I can think about it getting back home so I can cuddle my stuffed animals and run next door to play with Dimi. I know I'm supposed to be thrilled for them, I know I'm supposed to feel overjoyed that Derek and Casey are finally getting along and going to college and holding hands in public without being spat at. And that Edwin and Lizzie are doing well at school and happy. And that dad and Nora have got new jobs, which make loads of money. But all I can think about… oh I told you that before. Okay, now you know. So, stop thinking how cute I am and come on over from your caravan over there and let's play tag! Yes, I do know you're a puppy and I'm a little girl – but who cares?

10. I Dream a Highway – Gillian Welch

'Come on, Princess, just pick up the phone. I know you're there.'

This is the thirteenth time he's called in the last three days. The thirteenth time since he said our life was just too weird for him and that he was happier before he knew me. The thirteenth time I'm not going to take his call because every time he calls he tries to tell me how wonderful he is and what I'm missing out on by not talking to him. I know he's joking and that he's hiding the pain, and that courtship isn't his strong suit, but still. There's a limit.

I'm sitting here curled up on the couch with the phone next to me, volume turned high. The answer-phone cuts out after sixty-three seconds exactly. I know he knows I'm listening. He's just not been saying the things I want to hear.

Ring. Ring. Ring. 'This is Casey's ansaphone. Leave a nice message. I'll get right back to you.' Beep.

'Casey, your damn machine doesn't give me a chance to say anything. Don't you know how crazy this is making me? Don't you know how crazy you make me? I've been trying to tell you how sorry I am that I panicked. You were right, I was wrong, and if you don't pick up this time I'm going to come and beat down your door. I've dreamed about you every night since you left, and when I'm awake all I can think about it how to find my way back…' BEEP

I snatch up the phone.

'Damn Machine,' I say. And Derek laughs. He knows he's said the right thing at last.

This was so hard and it made me think about all of our music tastes in a very peculiar way. My shoulder aches from all the typing! Hasn't everyone been tagged already? If you're reading this, and you haven't been tagged, I tag you. Have fun, I did. Challenges are good for the soul.