• robinstratton23

13. In Love With Spring: My Novel Online

Updated: Jan 21




LISBETH WAS SITTING at the piano experimenting with some chords when Jules and Simon burst in. They were laughing as they stomped snow off their boots, and Lisbeth watched them with a pang of jealousy of their almost obscene health: eyes glowing, cheeks pink, laughter carelessly robust. She reached up and touched her hair, now about two inches long and surprisingly curly. She’d always hidden behind fluffy long bangs, so she felt exposed; but two inches of hair was way better than no hair at all. Plus, Allie said it made her look older, which she liked.


“Sidewalk all shoveled?” she asked.


“Yeah. Jules wanted to do the whole neighborhood. I had to stop her.”


“I love shoveling, I don’t know why.”


“I don’t know why either.” Simon’s voice was filled with affection.


Lisbeth held back a chuckle. Like the rest of the family, she knew Simon was head over heels for Jules. Only Jules seemed oblivious. On the sly, they’d made bets on when she’d figure it out—Lisbeth and Mandy thought it would happen within a few months, Mom gave her ’till the end of the year, and Allie’s wry prediction was that the realization would hit Jules no earlier than her fiftieth birthday. “Want me to make a pot of coffee? Warm you up?”


“Diet Dr. Pepper for me,” Jules said, pulling off her coat and scarf. “I’m melting.”


Simon looked at his watch. “I have to go. Grandfather likes me home for dinner on Bingo night.”


“Okay. Hey, Simon, thanks for helping Jules with the shoveling.” Lisbeth felt a rush of gratitude sweep through her, something that happened more and more often these days; it seemed like everything made her feel happy and lucky. “You’re just the best.”


“Don’t mention it.” He leaned over and kissed the top of her head, then yanked on one of her new curls. Giggling, she reached up, grabbed his hand, and held it for a moment. She felt Jules watching her, and as soon as the door closed behind him she said “What.”


“Tonight you come to practice, for sure.”


“I can’t tonight.”


“Why not?”


“I’m tired. It’s so cold out. I’d rather just stay in and—”


“Lissie, what are you scared of?”


The word scared pierced her, and her mind scrambled to come up with a more acceptable excuse. “I have homework. It would be different if practice was on weekends…”


“I’ll help you do it right now, and it’ll be done before dinner. Come on.”


“But…”


“What’s going on?”


Lisbeth sighed. “I know this is going to sound stupid. But…it’s Kevin.”


“What about him?”


“That he’s…the stuff you told me about him.”


“What did I say?”


“Well, I guess it was Mandy. That he was wild and weird. That he had an affair with that teacher.”


“Lissie, Kevin is nothing like what Mandy said! Well…I don’t know him that well, because he kind of keeps to himself. But anyway, you don’t have to worry about him tonight. Simon told me that he’s not coming. So it would just be Eddie.”


I promised God I wouldn’t be scared. “Okay,” Lisbeth said, “I’ll come.”


After dinner, Jules and Lisbeth hopped over the fence and went inside. Eddie was already there, and when Jules presented Lisbeth, she added, “Eddie really liked that funky tune you wrote a few weeks ago.”


Eddie, rosining his bow, asked, “How’d you come up with the melody?”


“Just came to me one day while I was fooling around,” Lisbeth answered casually, but Jules could tell she was pleased.


Eddie pulled off a neat little riff on his violin and suggested they could use it in the song. “Maybe if there was a bridge, or something?”

“I like that, yeah,” Simon nodded. “But start it on the upbeat, so it’s different from the rest of the song. Then, for the verse, go back to the other beat.”


It sounded like a confusing concept to Jules, especially when Lisbeth supplied the name for it: syncopation. But when Eddie played it again, this time stressing the beat that hadn’t been emphasized before, she was impressed.


Simon had a few chords running through his mind and was about to suggest they try it all together, when all of a sudden he held up his hand. “Shhhh!”


“Simon, what’s the mat—”


“Shhh!”


Everyone stopped talking, and then they heard the front door open and steps heading up the hallway.


“Grandfather is home early!” Simon hissed. He looked around frantically, as if trying to figure out how to hide everyone in the few seconds it would take for his grandfather to walk in.


But it was Kevin’s face that appeared in the doorway. “Just couldn’t bring myself to miss practice,” he said.


Jules heard Lisbeth give a little gasp and glanced at her, then looked back at Kevin, as if to see him through Lisbeth’s eyes: handsome face, square jaw, white teeth, glittering earring, tight black jeans, torn sweat jacket, and tee shirt which bore the logo of a popular beer. She’s probably scared to death! “Hey, Kevin. This is my sister Lisbeth.”


“Oh.” He stopped and stared. “Hey. Hi.”


Lisbeth ducked her head a little as she acknowledged the introduction, but her smile was wide. “Hi,” she said in a squeaky voice.


“You’re the one who writes songs with Simon?”


“Uh huh. Yes.”


“I really liked the last one, that mellow one. I mean, I like them all…but that last one…the one that was mellow…I really liked it.”


Jules had never heard Kevin stammer. Her gaze turned to Simon and her eyes asked, What’s going on? His shrug answered, I have no idea!


Lisbeth said, “I wrote it a long time ago, but I was never satisfied with it. Then last month I pulled it out, messed around with it, and gave it a warmer groove.”


“Wow, cool.”


Jules didn’t think Kevin had even heard Lisbeth. He was staring at her so hard that he couldn’t possibly be in possession of any of his other senses. Lisbeth could have said she set her hair on fire every night in order to write, and he would have said Wow, cool.


“Should we get to work, then?” Eddie asked.


“Work,” Kevin repeated, and it seemed to take a while for the word to reach his brain. “Yeah, work. I have to go out to the car and get my set.”


“I’ll help you.” Lisbeth grabbed her coat.


“Thanks.” He waited for her, and then then they hurried out together.


“What the hell?” Jules demanded.


Simon shook his head. “That was…I don’t know what that was.”


When Kevin and Lisbeth came back, they were deep in discussion, Lisbeth saying, “…shouldn’t compare the Beatles to the Beach Boys in terms of radical innovation, because Pet Sounds came out before Sgt. Pepper, and Sgt. Pepper was all four members of the band plus George Martin, while Brian Wilson did most of the work on Pet Sounds by himself. He was only 24! It’s been called the most progressive pop album ever. Have you ever listened to it?”

Uh oh, Jules thought. Kevin hates the Beach Boys!


“Surfing music? No.”


“See, that’s what people always think. But the orchestral arrangement of ‘God Only Knows’…French horn, accordions, sleigh bells, harpsichord. Who else was doing that in 1966? Not to mention the harmonies! They were influenced by one of my dad’s favorite groups, The Four Freshman. You have no idea how difficult it is to write all the different parts.”


“Yeah, you’re right, their harmonies were good,” Kevin mused. “I forgot how much I liked ‘God Only Knows.’”

“Brian said he and the guy he wrote it with, Tony Asher, wanted to create this sense of being blind, but in being blind, being able to see more.”


Kevin tipped his head, trying to process the concept.


“In terms of what the country was going through at that time,” Lisbeth went on with an air of conviction that shocked Jules, “they hit the scene before musicians were supposed to have this, like, social conscience. They sang about girls and surfing because that’s what being young was about. When the war in Vietnam got so controversial, musicians started using their songs as showcase for the political beliefs, and the era of music just for fun ended. The Beach Boys had to totally reinvent themselves. That’s what the song ‘Surf’s Up’ is about. It has nothing to do with surfing.”


Jules almost laughed. Lisbeth’s commentary had come from a written report she’d just done for school and gotten an A on. Very well researched, Lisbeth! the teacher had scrawled across the top.


“I see what you mean. I never thought about it that way.” Kevin hadn’t even begun to assemble his set; he was just standing in the doorway as if starved for information about the Beach Boys.


Lisbeth put down the drum and the stool she’d carried in and returned to the sofa to sit next to Jules. “You really should check out the album. I’d be glad to lend you my copy.”


“Okay, I will, thanks.”


Simon absently fingered the opening notes to “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” and Eddie promptly took up the melody on his violin.


“Wow,” Lisbeth said, impressed.


“This is what they do,” Kevin told her. “Geniuses. They can play any song they know, they’re amazing together.”


“I know Simon is brilliant. He comes over and we jam.”


“He says you’re great. You should sit in with us.”

“Maybe I will.”


Kevin looked down as if realizing for the first time that he was still holding a drum, two cymbals, and his sticks. “It’s a little late to start playing now, don’t you guys think? By the time I’m done setting up, Grandfather’ll be home. Maybe we should bag it, and just go for a slice of pizza or something? I’ll drive.”


“Okay,” Lisbeth said merrily.


Jules, Simon and Eddie didn’t respond. It was clear that Kevin wasn’t talking to them. They could have left the room and he wouldn’t have even noticed.


Simon put his guitar on its stand. “Okay. I’ll leave a note for Grandfather in case he gets home before us. Tell him I had an emergency study group meeting.”


“I’ll call my mom so she can pick me up at the pizza place, not here,” Eddie said.


Jules didn’t say anything, just watched Lisbeth and Kevin walk out together; and she knew that the old Lisbeth was gone forever.

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