Take one. They’re free.



Suzie’s House 519 : C’est Moi

Emma suffered one of those heart-stopping moments when she knew with absolute certitude she was going to do something stupid. A part of her was terrified what Berth would think of Bruce, or – worse – what Bruce would think of Emma for making a friend outside the band.

But she had to do something. Beth was looking at Bruce with half hero worship and half confusion; and Bruce was looking at Beth with that fake bemusement he got when he was about to be really rude.

“B-Beth, this is B-Bruce.” Emma flapped her hand from one to the other and back like they were sitting in a drawing room with a fancy tea set and everything instead of standing in the middle of the hall at school, waiting for the teachers to come out and yell at them that the bell was about to ring and why weren’t they moving already. “Bruce, this is my friend from English class. And some others.”

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Suzie’s House 517 : Head Cases

Vin dragged himself into the house in utter exhaustion. He’d subcontracted with the FBI to work on a serial killer case that had covered five states so far. Although the part of the work that he was responsible for was supposed to be confined to Wisconsin, he’d gone to a meeting in Chicago, an only now gotten back.

It was late. Maybe he should sleep in Miranada’s “shoe room” rather than risk waking her up. She wasn’t exactly easy to get along with when she didn’t get enough sleep. All the windows visible from the front of the house were dark, but a soft glow from the kitchen made it’s way down the hall to the front door. Curious, he dropped his luggage by the stairs, and made his way to the kitchen.

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Suzie’s House 516 : No Excuses

“Please tell me the tea you’ve been feeding me isn’t actually toxic.” Drew made himself stay upright though he felt like he’d been sucker punched. He forced his feet into the den where Trent and Sonoma had been arguing. But as soon as he drew even with the straight back chair against the wall, he slumped into it.

“Even water is toxic if you get enough of it.” Trent said.

“You would say that.” If it had been Sonoma saying it, Drew might have lost his grip. Being Trent just annoyed him. “Always backing your wife even when you were arguing with her a minute ago.”

“Drew.” Sonoma rushed forward, completely ignoring their byplay. “I am so very sorry.”

She tried to grab his hands, but he wasn’t having any of it. She glanced down, and he thought if she’d been twenty years younger, she probably would have gone down on her knees to beg his forgiveness.

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Suzie’s House 515 : Cause No Harm

Much to Sonoma’s relief, Drew walked into the house under his own steam. There had been a few times back when he lived under her roof when they had brought him into the house on a dolly. His muscles would lock up and keep him as still as a statue for painfully long minutes, sometimes even hours.

This gave her heart. The fact he could move now meant she was on to something.

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Suzie’s House 514 : It’s Alright My Boy, You’re Here Now

The cars whizzing past trailed streamers of light like a high budget art movie. Sunlight in the air put brilliant gold on every speck of dust and time became a relative thing. As far as flashbacks went, this one was both much better and much worse than the average.

Better simply from the sheer beauty of Madison Wisconsin in the early Fall. Most trees still shone green, and a clear, powder-blue sky loomed overhead. The hoards of high school kids passing offered up their own vital beauty to the rock Drew had become. Worse because it should happen – so deep and thoroughly – while he was driving.

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Suzie’s House 513 : Frozen

Ben and Lisa walked home from school together – home being Ben’s house. Lisa’s mom had been kind of busy the last few days, so Lisa and Tracy both ate with him. Tracy’s mom even paid for it, like it was a business deal. Board without the room. Ben mostly didn’t care. It was only for the next month anyway. How many times would it be his turn to cook? Besides, Lisa and Tracy took turns too.

“So I think the next video should be even more mysterious.” Lisa had been talking about nothing by Malaprop and their video all week long.

“Didn’t you already give the gopro back to Miranda?” He was tired of it, and didn’t even care if Lisa heard it in his voice.

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Suzie’s House 512 : PDA

“I don’t like it,” Gene mumbled to Tracy as they sat across from each other at a long table in the lunchroom. He could see a dozen girls looking at him from different parts of the room. Normally he’d have focused on the others at their table instead, but none of them had shown up yet.

“Just ignore them.”

Tracy shoved her sandwich into her mouth like she couldn’t care less, but Gene knew she’d been getting looks from guys the same way he’d been getting looks from girls. Maybe it really didn’t bother her. Or more likely she’d bottle it up for a few weeks, then rant when it was just the two of them in his room.

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Suzie’s House 511 : Fan Service

“It’s him!” One of the older girls in Justin’s band class said it in a very loud whisper while leaning toward another.

Justin couldn’t remember which instruments they played, but he couldn’t mistake who they were talking about. He was the only one standing in the direction they were looking – behind the kettle drums.

The best thing about playing drums for orchestra was that no one expected him to provide his own kettle drum. All he had to do was walk up and pick up the mallets. Maybe, once in a while, he would have to stop and tune one. But mostly, they were ready when he was. So different from playing in the marching band where he had to pack around his snare drum just like the poor schmoes in front of him who ere getting their cellos out of their cases.

Or like when he played with Maliprop where everything he played he had to haul around himself.
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Suzie’s House 510 : A Singer in a Rock and Roll Band

“Guess what I heard!” Beth leaned across the aisle so Emma could hear her, though class had already started.

“What?” Emma said it real quiet, even though they were at the very back of the classroom, over by the window. The teacher was busy writing something on the chalkboard, so maybe she wouldn’t notice, but it still made Emma uncomfortable.

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Suzie’s House 509 : Overheard Identity

“Hey, look it this!” A girl standing next to a locker down the hall showed her smart phone to another girl. “I heard it’s a band made up of people from our school.”

Though faint from distance and tinny from the phone’s speaker, Emma could tell for sure it was her band, her song, and her video being shared.

Next to her, Kate giggled knowingly.

“Hah! It’s already working.” Kate fished her phone out of her bag. She pulled up the video on youtube. “Look! Over a thousand hits already. And it’s just begun.”

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Suzie’s House 508 : You Always Do

“Walter!” Drew panicked when he found the mobile phone abandoned on a stump next to the back side of Lake Mendota. “Where are you!!!”

There was no response. Drew crashed through the underbrush around the lake, painfully aware he was on private property, but that Walter wouldn’t care. Could the old man have slipped in the mud around the shore and drowned in the lake? Could he have drowned on purpose? These were exactly the sorts of things Drew had been hired to prevent. But how can you watch over someone with the childish contrary nature of a two year old and a body just as tall and heavy as your own?

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Suzie’s House 507 : Brother’s Keeper

Ben bit his lip. The video was good. Real good. He could see how it got the way it was, but it wasn’t really what he and Lisa had planned. A part of him wanted to argue. But they weren’t really co-authoring it in the first place. She just wanted to talk about it with him. So the two of them had sat around throwing around ideas. Several times. But Lisa had done it all herself. So really. He had no right to complain,

The video began with a the same moving frame on the band playing in the back yard as the original video along with the instrumental start of the song. Everyone looked totally cool in their band clothes. Emma in particular wore a black outfit with matching black mask that made her look mysterious. She leaned into the microphone and sang.

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Suzie’s House 506: … Of Minds

Lisa caught herself biting her lips and made herself stop. These were her friends. They might be a little strict about how the video came out – kind of like before when Tracy wanted something more even though she wasn’t real clear just what – but they wouldn’t be nasty about it.

Which only made it all the worse if they didn’t like what she had done. She sat at the dining room table in Ben’s house with her laptop loaded and all the members of the band standing behind her. One finger hovered over the left-click mouse button.

“Wait!” She pulled her finger back. “Ben helped a lot with the storyboard. He should be…”

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Suzie’s House 505 : Meeting …

Lisa already had the music video loaded up on her laptop by the time the members of the band arrived at Ben’s house. She’d rushed over even before Ben, then ended up sitting in the dining room with Miranda.

“They’re late.” Miranda had her own laptop up and loaded.

“Not really. I got out of class a few minutes early and came straight over. Shouldn’t you be at work?” Lisa tapped her fingernails on the table next to her laptop and leaned into the palm of her other hand.

“This is work. I have another meeting across town in an hour. How much longer….”

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Suzie’s House 504 : Giggling with the Girls

“Are you sure it’ll be alright?” Katy kind of smirked a little as she asked. She already had her backpack full of school books slung over one shoulder.

Alisha smirked back, but Kate didn’t have the heart to play along. Instead, she focused on putting away the pens and notebooks and stuff on her desk.

There was a band meeting tonight. She knew she should go, but did it really make a difference? It wasn’t like she’d speak up even if she ever actually did have an opinion on anything the band did. Still, to skip out entirely made her feel a bit like a good girl playing truant. Like she was somehow in the wrong.

“Right. Will your boyfriend really let you play around like this?” Alisha’s smirk got sharper.

“What?” Her boyfriend? It took Kate a minute to remember she had one.

Continue reading Suzie’s House 504 : Giggling with the Girls