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Old 08-31-2017, 08:01 AM   #1
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Innocent Experience - Chapter 7

Note: Hello! Here it is Chapter 7 at last. It's a short one though! Thanks to everyone who waits and reads. And THANK YOU SO MUCH to BlueSilkenSky for helping me out with this little monster, and putting up with me as usual (I'm a real pest!) This is all fiction - NEVER HAPPENED. Lyrics by Biffy Clyro. Hope you enjoy!


Chapter 7
"The Conversation Is..."


What will I do if I’m wrong?
Will I blame it on everyone
It’s like I always do
I’m a coward because of you
I’m finding it hard to explain why I think that I’m right again
I’d love someone else to blame so I’m a coward because of you.”





The scent of alcohol hit Florence’s senses when Brian entered. It was past midnight when he came back from his appointment with U2. She thought it might have gone very well judging by the smell; he had probably gone for a couple of beers and ended up celebrating in one of those posh bars he liked to go.


When she opened her eyes, her phone was the first thing she noticed; she’d been waiting for Bono’s response to her message. She felt Brian crawling into bed and getting under the duvet.


She closed her eyes, wrinkled her nose and asked, “Where were you?”


It’s none of your business,” he groaned, kicking off his Frye boots and getting rid of his jeans. She kept quiet, listening to her own heartbeats. Soon it would be a brand new day and she’d find some peace of mind when he was sober. Hopefully he would apologize.


Hopefully.


***


Bono woke up more tired than before falling asleep. He’d crashed out on the sofa, and now it felt warm, almost suffocating, as if he’d been sleeping next to the devil himself. He rubbed his eyes and shook his head. Too much alcohol lately. Everything that had happened the previous day came in flashes. The interview, the photo shoot, Brian.


Ugh, Brian!


It would be good if he never had to bump into him ever again; but something told him he would. He didn’t know when, or where, but Bono sensed they’d meet again. He hoped Oseary had called Brian to his office. The sooner they got rid of that rattlesnake, the sooner he could let Florence know she was officially hired.


Florence.


Florence!


He’d forgotten to reply to her message. Very rude of him, hethought as he got right up from the sofa. While searching for his phone, he stumbled across his black trousers lying on the bathroom floor. He checked the pockets but it wasn’t there, or under the bed— and on top of the bathroom sink. Nothing. He swore he’d seen it before falling asleep on the sofa. It had to be somewhere; in fact, he’d fallen asleep going through his emails. Finally, he rummaged on more time between the cushions and hidden in one of the corners he found it.


He opened the Messages app and typed.


I’m sorry it took me so long to reply, I had a busy night— alcohol. Don’t ask and then I fell asleep while typing— excuses… I fell asleep on the sofa reading boring emails. Let me know where and when we can meet again. I’m free tonight. –B


He read the whole message again and frowned; too long, too boring. He deleted it and started typing again.


I won’t come up with a ridiculous excuse. Got drunk last night and fell asleep on the sofa reading boring emails. Let me know where and when we can meet again. Free tonight –B.


It was another lame text; he wasn’t going to send that one either, so he deleted it.


Let me choose this time, so I can apologise properly for the late reply –B


Sent.


It hadn’t been five minutes since he sent it when his phone chimed with a new text.


No, I’ll choose. That will be your punishment.


He smiled at her words and typed.


I’m free tonight.


He wanted to start working with her as soon as possible. The band was under a lot of pressure. He was under a lot of pressure. The tour was imminent.


I’m not.


Damn it!” He cursed and threw his phone to the sofa. He paced the room, anxious and worried he might have screwed everything up. He rushed to grab the phone and typed.


Why not?


Her reply was of no help.


Speak later.


He ran his fingers through his hair and replied, praying for at least a word in response.


Tonight??


But he got nothing in return. He looked at his watch and then outside. It was 9:45 and a beautiful morning was unfolding. Staring at the city of New York had always been one of his favorite pastimes; it brought such a peace of mind and relief that was hardly comparable to any other feeling. But today New York seemed to be cursed, he looked outside and he felt nothing but anxiety. Another beautiful but empty morning. Maybe going out for a coffee would help. Maybe Edge would join him.



***

It had been almost two hours since Florence had gotten out of bed. She enjoyed quiet mornings, where the only sound she heard was the hustle and bustle of the city’s restlessness even in the early hours. Another meaningless morning, yet so mysteriously interesting to Florence. She lit a cigarette as she stood by the window, looking down at the crowded street; thinking of all those complicated lives camouflaged with simple flesh and bone façades.


She counted three stubs in the ashtray, she had lost the sense of time. Her phone buzzed, lay on the coffee table in front of the couch. It was a text from Bono, with another one of his charming methods to convince her that fancy places were the best option to have a good time. She read the message again and chuckled. He wanted to apologize for the late reply to the text she had sent the night before. She replied back. She didn’t even notice Brian walking to the kitchen until she heard his voice.


What are you doing?” He asked as he approached the kitchen sink. She typed as fast as she could and sent the text.


Speak later.


I was about to have some coffee but Jordan texted.” She lied handing him his coffee. Out of the very few things she hated the most, lying was by far the one she avoided at all cost; but she wasn’t sure about Bono, or the job offer, or anything at all. She only knew that the songs played in her mind night and day, and she couldn’t stop them.


What does she want now?” He was clearly annoyed, and Florence wondered if she had anything to do with his recent mood. She could never tell. Brian sat down at the table and sipped his coffee. Making a face, he put it aside.


She wants to meet later, she’s working on a new project and she needs some feedback.” Florence grabbed his mug and poured the coffee down the kitchen sink. “You didn’t get much sleep, did you?”


Nope. I have to go to the magazine later, I’ll have a Starbucks on my way there.”


Brian.” She turned off her phone and sat across from him. “What’s happening?”


She was really concerned, he could tell, but he was too angry to get into details. It was no use being an insufferable ass to her now that it was all over, it wouldn’t get him the job back and it wasn’t her fault. But he couldn’t help it.


I don’t want to talk about it, I really don’t.” He stood up and walked to the fridge. He needed something in his stomach, even if it was just some orange juice drunk directly from the box. As he drank, the liquid trickled down his chin. “It’s not going to be a good day.” He wiped his mouth and put the box in the fridge again.


You’ve been—” She shook her head to make that sentence vanish from her mind, Brian hated being told he was distant and Florence didn’t need a new argument at ten in the morning. “I’m here if you need to talk.”


There’s nothing you can do, Florence.”


Is it about that job offer?” She asked, but regretted her words as soon as she let them out. It didn’t matter; all she got was the sound of footsteps fading as he walked to the bedroom.


His pain was her pain, at least in her mind. She never knew whether the feeling was mutual. Sometimes she even wondered if the ring she wore was a mere attempt to try and save what was left of their relationship. She held hope, though. It was only a bad phase and Brian was going through a lot of stress at work. She thought twice, but ended up following him.As she walked to the bedroom she got the familiar feeling of a deja vú. The same scene played over and over, same ending. Once again, she gave in.


She found him sitting on the edge of the bed, his elbows resting on his knees, his face hidden in his hands. She just sat next to him. No words, just the sound of silence drowned out by a wailing ambulance.


It meant so fucking much to me. That job.” He didn’t address to Florence; he didn’t even meet her eyes. She had never seen him cry, but she swore his voice had cracked at the mention of the job. He still covered his face, ashamed of his own tears.


You didn’t get it…” She bit her tongue. It was an affirmation rather than a question.


I fucked it all. Everything I had worked and lived for…that stupid photoshoot!”


You mean the photoshoot with U2? How did that affect your job offer?”


You are so—” he paused and sighed. “U2 was offering me a job.”


Oh…”


There’s a tour coming up and they needed a photographer. They had scheduled a photoshoot and apparently it would influence their final decision. But I fucked it up.”


Everything after those words went unnoticed to Florence. Not able to move or say anything, she felt as if a bucket of ice had been thrown on her. It wasn’t what she had expected to hear. Why did Bono not tell her that they were considering someone else for the job—


Oh, he did.” She didn’t mean to think aloud.


What?” He looked up to meet her eyes.


Uhm— I remembered that a friend of mine did mention U2’s upcoming tour. Oh, baby… I’m so sorry, but maybe they’ll reconsider their offer and call you back. You never know with celebrities.” She tried to cheer him up.


You think so?” His expression changed instantly. He started to turn to her, but then stood up and walked to the window. “No, no, they won’t. Bono’s not like that. They’ll find someone else. They’ve probably always had someone else.”


I’m sure they’ll call you back.”


Yeah, you’re always sure.” He brushed her off disdainfully; deep down he knew Florence didn’t deserve it, but he had to channel his powerlessness and anger somehow.


***


It was half past ten when Bono rushed to the living room where he had left his phone; it had chimed with a text from Florence.


Would it be too much to meet in your apartment? It’s the safest place I can think of.


Confused, he texted back.


Safest? Who are you hiding from?


Tomorrow 10:30 am?


Why did she avoid his questions? What was going on? He didn’t want to, but he was starting to overthink. What if Larry was right and all this was just a waste of time? But Bono certainly didn’t want that guy Brian working for the band. They had always aimed for innovation and Brian had shown nothing else but lack of originality and a disrespect towards other people’s work, especially Anton Corbjin.


Bono typed his response.


Breakfast? It’s on me.


Her response was quick and short, as if she felt guilty for typing.


I can’t.


Enough was enough. Unable to understand what Florence was trying to do, he phoned her back.


Hello?” Her voice sounded tired and somewhat sad. He didn’t want to put more pressure on her, but everything was uncertain and he hated not knowing what was going on; especially when there was so much at stake. He blurted the first words that came to his mind, and he knew he was going to regret them.


This is not a game, Florence. I said I’d wait for you, but you seem to be playing with my head. All I ask is honesty.”


You’re wrong, Mr. Hewson. But if that’s what you think, I’ll tell you the reason I’m not going to the studio.”


So there’s a reason?” he said. He carelessly flopped down on the sofa.


Don’t talk like that,” she snapped.


Ah, c’mon!”


I’ve changed my mind…” Before Florence finished the sentence, Bono sat straight and held his breath. He had a feeling he wasn’t about to hear good news. And then she dropped the bomb. “I have to decline your offer for that job.”


His blood ran cold and his heart sank. He didn’t know whether to smash the phone against the floor, or his head against the wall. Florence words were like a shot right to his brain, but in the end, it all seemed to be a joke. He took a deep breath and tried to stay calm.


You’re not being serious, are you?”


I’m sorry I made you waste your time, but— I can’t. I’m so sorry.” He heard her voice crack, just like that one time she opened up and talked about her past. Bono still had hope, because deep inside he felt that she really wanted to work with the band. It was evident that something had happened and he wanted to find out what it was.


We need to talk,” Florence said.


Yes, we do need to talk. As I said, I’m free tonight.” He tried one more time; maybe if they saw each other he could make her change her mind.


I told you, Mr. Hewson, that I can’t see you tonight. My boyfriend will be here and I—”


Is that it?” By the time he interrupted her, he was already pacing the room up and down. “Is it because of your boyfriend. Does he not want you to work with us? Because that’s the only logical reason I can think of.” He was finally freaking out, not really knowing what to say, but knowing he had to say something. Maybe improvising was not the best option in this case. He was about to start rambling when she spoke up.


Mr. Hewson...” There was an uncomfortable pause, and then she continued. “Will you be available tomorrow morning?”


If I wasn’t I’d cancel all my plans. I need to see you; we need to talk. Okay, I’ve said that before but…we really, really need to talk.”


She was thinking of Bono as he spoke, without paying attention at his actual words, only conscious that his voice was like a lifeline.


I’ll be there around 10:30 in the morning, I have a student at 9.”


I’ll be waiting for you.”


Okay, see you then.”


Oh, and Florence…”


Yes, Mr. Hewson?”


Please, don’t let the world grind you down.”


Sometimes you have to give in…or you end up shattered into pieces. See you tomorrow.” And before he could say anything she was gone.


Bono threw his phone onto the corner of the sofa and lay down, staring at the ceiling and thinking. He had to think. He wondered how could everything change in seconds. His heart was racing, and as crazy as it sounded, it wasn’t because of the band’s deadline or Larry and his stupid sermons. He realized that if Florence declined the offer, he would never see her again. He wasn’t ready for that; there were so many questions unanswered, so many stories untold. He wanted more. Maybe another afternoon talking about music, about her work? Those three hours at the restaurant hadn’t been enough for him. Florence remained a mystery he was desperate to solve.


Running his fingers through his hair in exasperation, he stood up and dragged his feet to the bedroom. Lying on his bedside table was a copy of Delmore Schwartz’s In Dreams Begin Responsibilities. He had looked through his collection and found it, he had planned to give it to Florence the next time they saw each other. Maybe the next morning. Now he needed that coffee and a long walk, maybe talk to someone before he lost the plot.


***


These conversations with Bono didn’t cease to surprise her; she never knew where they would lead, but they always led somewhere. She was now sitting before her drawing board doodling stars and cubes, thinking of him. Always thinking of him and his songs, trying to capture every detail. The absentmindedly rough drawings soon became well-formed lines and curves, and she stared at her rough sketch.


Lines and curves shaped Bono’s face. She remembered his naked eyes staring at her in a mixture of wonder and eagerness as he spoke. His voice was low but vehement, as if he didn’t want to share his thoughts with anyone but her. She closed her eyes that night as she listened to his songs; as she’d been doing since the day she heard him sing for the first time. Her eyes switched to her phone, and tapped on her playlist. It had become a habit, or maybe it was an obsession? She flicked through the songs and chose randomly; it would intoxicate her either way.


A minimal drum beat ruled the room, followed by the sustained melody of a guitar and a synthesizer. Then the bass, like a rope, tied them up together. And finally his voice. A heartbreaking lament. A cry for help, perhaps? She let the phone on a corner of the board and went back to the sketch.


I wait for you.


He sang and her heart sank with every word. She sensed a constant struggle in his soul. An old battle between who he really was, and the persona the rest of the world invented for themselves. He was just an image to a lot of people: the pompous rock star with the big mouth and a huge ego. But he was more than that, at least to Florence. But was she? Just a random stranger who had just met him and thought she knew him. No one knew him. Who could? He was just so many people, but at the same time he was just a boy from the North side of Dublin, with a head full of big ideas and a restless spirit. Where did she know him from? Where had she seen him before? She didn’t believe in reincarnation; she didn’t believe in previous lives. But how on earth could she feel this close to someone she had basically just met? He was so openly mysterious that it was easy to be connected with him in a certain way.


Did everyone else notice? Did every person who listened to their music feel as if they really knew him? Maybe she was just seeing ghosts where there weren’t any, but no one could drag her out of the places that only he could take her. She felt safe in the songs; safe in the warmth of his voice.


With or without you
With or without you
I can't live
With or without you


The rhythm of the song increased considerably until Bono let out an open-throated cry as the pressure of Florence’s pencil on the sheet hardened. A new line. Two more lines. Three. With an unjustified rage, she scribbled on it so hard that ended up tearing it. She was angry; angry at Jordan for showing the drawings to her father, angry at U2 for turning down Brian, angry at Bono for being enchanted by her trashy sketches, angry at herself accepting that stupid offer in the first place. But even if she tried to, she couldn’t be angry at Brian. What kind of relationship was that? She was coming to realize that it was sick and suffocating, but she didn’t want to run away from it.


Bono hitting the falsetto was cathartic. She had poured all that anger on the sheet of paper that lay, torn and useless, on the floor. She took a deep breath and decided it was time for a walk, maybe a coffee. It would give time to think of what to say to Bono. She grabbed her phone and put it in her bag.




***


As she made her way outside the building, she took a minute to decide where to go. Walking without a specific destination seemed like the best choice. She’d get a coffee on her way. She put on her sunglasses and felt ready to walk the streets of New York City like a tourist. But before she could even cross the street, a voice stopped her.


Florence!”
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Old 09-01-2017, 05:07 AM   #2
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I still love it! Interested to see how she handles the situation now that she realizes her bf was turned down for the same job...he's gotta go anyway! lol Just love all the emotions written into this.
Keep it going! :-)
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Old 09-03-2017, 07:41 AM   #3
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I still love it! Interested to see how she handles the situation now that she realizes her bf was turned down for the same job...he's gotta go anyway! lol Just love all the emotions written into this.
Keep it going! :-)
Oh poor Brian! No, he is mean lol!
Thank you very much for reading I'm already working on Chapter 8...I'll see what happens because they do what they want
Again, thanks a lot for reading
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Old 09-03-2017, 07:49 PM   #4
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yay! I can't wait for the next chapter!!!
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Old 09-06-2017, 02:32 PM   #5
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yay! I can't wait for the next chapter!!!
Thanks for reading
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Old 10-12-2017, 08:18 AM   #6
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chapter 8 coming soon, I hope so. I'm still looking for a beta reader...or myabe someone who can help me out a bit. if someone's interested, PM x
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