Bring it back
Updated: Jun 30, 2021
“Bring it back” Molly would say as Stew skipped through the house pocketing his last bits - money, card, wallet, passport, a routine he’d done a thousand times; “sing it back” he’d say to her as he kissed her goodbye and leaned in for a final squeeze of his three favourite girls. It was their thing. It had been that way since our early days in the 90s when he’d been on the road with Moloko. That song always taking them back to long sunny days, reckless fun, late nights and belly laughs, parties and people followed by lazy Sunday mornings in the old London flat, chilling on vinyl under warm morning sunbeams, then long afternoons over Sunday roasts down at Filthy’s.
The girls had changed Molly’s life more than his. He could earn more money than her, touring as a session drummer, a promotion from his old drum tech days. He seemed to live the life - celebrities, parties and foreign travel. Molly’s days had become more mundane, school and nursery runs, baking and home-making. As far as modern-day suburbia went she wouldn’t complain, in fact, life was pretty sweet.
The effects of the global pandemic hit harder than a bass drum set to stadium rock. Lockdown hit and the music stopped. No gigs, no tours, no plans, no money and no insurance covering any ‘force majeur’ in the industry ever since the SARS virus a decade prior. Making plans to make ends meet met with anxiety, setting in faster than 90s techno.
Stew was the beating heart of a live set, playing in front of thousands, he was the music. In turn, the music was him, it was his beating heart. Backstage he would continue to drive the mood. When it all stopped, staccato, the stress on his shoulders lay heavier than the dusty blanket over his redundant drum kit. He drifted from room to room, evermore quiet, lost, dejected. Kinking and unspooling like a well-played cassette.
Molly wore her reddest lipstick to go to the food bank. She hadn’t wanted to take the girls but he didn’t feel well so she brought them, on a mission. “Hey” he reached out tenderly “bring it back”, “sing it” she cheered.
A volunteer helped her pack a bag. Molly recognised her from the school run and her sympathy jarred Molly’s resolve. The walk home more solemn, anger building from within and burst out in a single, silent wiped away tear.
Back home deadly silence amplified into a crescendo of deafening high-pitched tinnitus. First, she saw his bare feet then dizzily tracked his body up before dropping the shopping and pushing the girls back into the hall, scrambling to get on to the chair to lift his dead weight. Her silence no longer and with all her strength, he landed there on the floor on top of her.
“Bring it back” she wailed, the girls screaming and pushing open the door. “Sing it” he whimpered.
Written by CLAIR DICKER
Artwork by HEATHER HAYTHORNTHWAITE