Middle Class Malaise: Guess the Song, Win My Book!

by Rebecca A. Watson on September 22, 2015

in Creative Writing, escapism, fairy tales, life, writing

Happy Mabon, aka Autumn Equinox everyone! If you’re looking for something I’ve written about this season, click here. If you’d like some ideas of how to celebrate, here’s a quick overview. I particularly like apple magic.

Here’s something I wrote inspired by and using the lyrics from a song. It’s a fairly well-known song, and I’d love if you can guess it. The person who guesses correctly wins a copy of my new book, which comes out next month!


Maria thumbed through the weekly circular, looking for sales on anything she might want to buy. Last week it was an extension cord at Home Depot. This week it looked like there might be some cute pillows at Pier One to match the new sofa they bought. On credit, of course.

She’d pay cash for the pillows, count her pennies to buy nice bottles of wine from the liquor store down the street and they’d make their payments on time. Then the house would continue to be her little slice of heaven, slowly, she believed, coming together to be something she could relax in.

But sometimes she felt a tug when she tried to unwind. It wasn’t that her home wasn’t comfortable — it’s just that it was a cold comfort. She’d gone to great lengths, making sure she avoided violet and sky blue, creating warmth with dark wood and fall colors, but something wasn’t quite right.

She continued, week after week, looking for the perfect thing to bring it all together. Maybe a nice rug or a minibar perhaps? But those cold, steel rails for hand towels only brought more silent pain.

Maybe it was the house itself, she thought, as she gazed out the windows hazily. It seemed so perfect when they found it. Surrounded by gorgeous meadows, shaded at certain times of the day by the big oak trees in the back yard, she saw green fields in the spring and blue skies almost year round.

blue sky

Her husband adored it, although he expressed concern over the fact that so much of the exterior was glass. How would the cool and heat be kept out, he asked? She reminded him that the windows opened to let in the cool breezes, and there were fireplaces throughout the home.

Though now that they’d been through a few winters, she regretted the windows too, mostly when she scrubbed what had once been hot ash from the fireplaces, now dried to a grit, off the giant floor-to-ceiling panes. She wondered if this is what the housekeepers in hell had to deal with.

She wasn’t sure it was just the house though. Maybe it was her husband too. He’d become more closed in that fishbowl of a home each year, his smiles growing more veiled, his arrivals after work shifting later and later. She assumed he was getting bored, not because she suspected him to be apathetic but because she too was bored.

Each “How was your day?” grew more strained. The morning commute, longer than she’d assumed when they bought the house, made only slightly less painful with self-help audio books, the authors not really inspirational or motivational, but just barely believable. Like the voice of ghosts coming out of her headphones speaking to the lost souls of the Universe.

desert ghost

As she sat there, stuck on the same page of coupons from the Sunday paper, she realized that maybe it wasn’t just her husband then. Perhaps it was her as well. She looked back at the past seven years — going to college, getting a good job, marrying a good man, searching for and buying a home — and realized she hadn’t really been present for any of it.

She used to do things, and now she felt like she was letting things happen to her. She was in drama in college — sure it was just a walk-on part here and there — but she felt alive then. She couldn’t remember the last time she felt that way. Every day was the same.

Suddenly Maria felt afraid — not fear over being able to pay for the sofa, not about whether her husband was having an affair. No, she was scared that she was doing everything all wrong. She had a flash of herself as a child, running around pretending to be Superwoman, flying around the world, seeing everything and meeting people from the other side of the planet, where they all stood upside down.

Superwoman, Wonder Woman. These were her heroes, and she wondered with a silent doom whether her other friends felt this way as well, like they’d left some part of themselves behind.

wonder woman Daniel Scott Gabriel Murray

Like they’d stumbled into some part they didn’t know, the lines tasting unfamiliar. But still, it was the lead role so they didn’t complain. Would they say anything to anyone about this? Either they didn’t feel it, they didn’t talk about it or they just didn’t think they could tell, she reasoned.

You know, a small voice inside her said, this house looks an awful lot like a cage. You can look out and enjoy the view, but you really can’t leave. This revelation startled Maria, so at first she ignored it. She felt uncomfortable with any voice inside her that didn’t seem under her control.

It didn’t go away, though. It gnawed at her a little more as she clipped a coupon for 20 percent off an item at Bed, Bath and Beyond. Maybe she’d get the pillows there. She considered going to both places while she cleaned the kitchen.

Finally, as she gathered up her shopping lists and headed out the door, she noticed the voice was gone. But instead of feeling relief, like she expected, there was a deep sense of longing. Shocked, she realized  she actually wished it was still there.

Something like grief came over her, but it soon passed when she fired up her car’s engine, and her audio book came to life. She was chasing ghosts, once again.


Can you guess what song inspired this story? Leave your guess in the comments! I’ll tell you next week 😉

This is part of my 2015 goal to write more and differently. If you want to read more posts like this, click here.

Photo Credits: erin williamson, Unsplash, photophildeDaniel Scott Gabriel Murray

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

thirstystill September 22, 2015 at 1:59 am

Rebecca, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess “Hotel California.” How’s that? Good story, whatever the inspiration! xo


Rebecca A. Watson September 22, 2015 at 9:38 am

Thanks TS. I will let you know next week 😀


John August 10, 2016 at 5:44 am

Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here


Rebecca A. Watson August 14, 2016 at 12:58 pm

YES! Nicely done 🙂 Book is on the way …


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