Click to Reveal Content Warnings
- Discussions of death
- Mentions of and references to cancer (Multiple Myeloma, specifically)
- Mentions of blood
- Brief description of a medical procedure (bone marrow aspiration)
- References to alcohol and drug use
- Grief and depression
- Implications of suicide
- Non-detailed references to historical instances of abuse within a now-ended romantic relationship
- Implied previous instances of transphobia
- References scars implied to be from self harm
The Unofficial Infinite Eyes Fan Site
Little Dreamers by Infinite Eyes – Analysis by Marnie
They say you’re only really dead after the last time somebody says your name. Every day I take a moment and say Tyler Brundle in the mirror, like I’m calling Bloody Mary, and the reason I do it is because of songs like this one.
You can find this song if you let the Turn Down the Bed EP run for a few minutes after you think it’s finished. It’s really short, and it’s just Tyler and his guitar. I always like those tracks best, even though I love Infinite Eyes when they’re playing together. There’s always something special about those moments where it’s just Tyler. There’s only one other recording of this song anywhere, where Tyler is playing it live and his nose starts to bleed, and his voice gets all thick and he probably wants to lie down and cry, but he doesn’t, he carries on. The part of this song everyone will remember is the end, where he says ‘am I blessed or am I broken?’ again and again until he can’t say it anymore.
Remember how when you were little you thought grown-ups were so complete and powerful and whole? And one day out of nowhere something changes. It’s like the world shifting under your feet, and you realise these people you’ve put all this hope and faith into are just people, and sometimes it doesn’t matter how hard you try, you won’t get what you want. Not because you don’t deserve it, but because that’s just not the way things are. I think that’s what ‘Little Dreamers’ is. It’s Tyler realising that all those dreams of fame and fortune he wrote about on his blog were never going to happen. Not because he didn’t work hard enough or he wasn’t good enough, just because he wouldn’t live to see them through.
Little dreamers, safe in bed
Little dreams safe in their heads
Smothered lights, snuffed out souls
The ones that lay dead long ago
Where might we find a place to rest?
Among little dreamers?
Am I blessed?
Am I blessed?
Am I blessed?
Or am I broken?
Am I broken?
Am I blessed?
Am I blessed?
Am I blessed?
Or am I broken?
Am I- ?
#infiniteeyes #infiniteeyessongs #lyrics #infiniteeyeslyrics #britishmusic #musician #infinitethorns #marnie #modpost #thoughts #lyricsanalysis #tylerbrundle #infiniteeyestyler
Follow Marnie on facebook, twitter, tumblr and instagram
Fig. 2. Tyler
Tyler stared the kettle down as it finally began to spew steam. He was sure several weeks had passed since he spooned instant coffee into two reasonably clean mugs. Though it was long past midday, it felt like the crack of dawn in the house, the faint sound of snoring drifting through the open kitchen door. Tyler leaned against the counter, knocking plastic cups and shot glasses onto the floor. He swore under his breath as he stooped to pick them up and jarred the ache in his back. He clenched his teeth and hung onto the sticky kitchen counter. There wasn’t much point trying to tidy up after himself anyway. The room smelled like vomit and there were suspicious looking chunks in the bottom of the sink. It might have been a bad idea to move in with the band full time.
It felt almost like yesterday hadn’t happened. Like nobody had looked him in the eye and told him he was probably going to die, and he hadn’t come home to drink himself into oblivion only to collapse on the kitchen floor before the bottle touched his lips. He could see the dried-up ghost of the puddle the whiskey had made on the ground, shattered glass hastily shoved to the edges of the room.
Laura, the drummer, was sat in the garden, half-lit with dreary September sunlight. Her glittery party dress gaped unzipped over her shoulder blades, old tattoos with seeping ink blurry through the finger-smudged patio doors. She turned and half-smiled through yesterday’s make-up. Tyler tried to grin back and didn’t quite manage it. She waved her cigarette; an offer to share, and Tyler turned back to the kettle. He didn’t want to face her yet. She’d want to know why he disappeared so quickly after their rehearsal yesterday and didn’t come back until last night’s party was already in full swing.
Tyler had expected to go to the doctors and be told the ache in his back was from lifting their gear into Joel’s car, or from jumping around too much on stage. He had expected to be told to lay off the smoking, the drinking, the yelling, if he wanted to stop feeling so exhausted all the time. When he was little, Tyler had gone over the handlebars on his bike. He’d thrown out his hands as the pavement got closer and closer and still remembered the awful judder as his bones gave way. Last week, he’d been told to lie flat on a bed covered in thin green paper and let someone drive a thick needle into the bone of his hip.
He’d been so angry on the way to the hospital yesterday. He was sure there had been no need for them to cut a chunk out of his pelvis. The complaint was on the tip of his tongue as he sat down opposite the doctor and waited to be told it was all a waste of time. In the end he’d hardly said a word. He cringed at the thought of it. ‘I’m in a band, you know.’ That was about all he could manage.
The door to Tyler’s bedroom was ajar and he could see a pair of unfamiliar jeans bundled on the rug. He crept into the room, careful not to disturb the man curled around the duvet. Tyler looked at him for a little while, a mess of blonde hair and long, pale limbs. He set the coffees down and sat on the edge of the bed.
This was known territory. Another pretty thing in his sheets. Well, half-known territory at least; Tyler’s conquests didn’t usually have to carry him upstairs. Not out of necessity. He hadn’t even had the energy to be mortified about it until he woke up fully clothed and saw Wren lying next to him, their fingers wound together. Tyler was surprised he could remember Wren’s name; he didn’t remember falling asleep, didn’t even remember reaching the bed. Not very rock and roll.
Wren shifted on the mattress, blonde hair falling across his face. He was young, maybe just out of high school, his face soft and completely unlined. Tyler’s insides twisted up. Yesterday a doctor had looked him in the eye and told him to measure his expectations for his future. Not as a musician, not as a front man. As a human being. As someone who was still alive.
The breath caught in Tyler’s throat and his grip on the handles of the coffee mugs tightened. Wren stirred, grumbling unintelligibly. His eyes cracked open, a flash of blue so bright it was like the sky just around the sun. ‘Ugh,’ he said. ‘Don’t look at me.’
‘I made coffee.’
‘What time is it?’
Wren rolled onto his back, blinking at the ceiling. ‘Shit.’
Tyler handed him one of the mugs. Wren groaned as soon as it touched his lips. The sound was criminal. Wren took a large gulp and finally looked at Tyler. His eyes widened and he almost dropped his mug. ‘Holy shit,’ he said. His voice was gloriously cracked. His gaze flitted around the room, at the posters on the walls, at the guitars lined up in the corner.
‘What?’ said Tyler.
‘I didn’t…’ said Wren. He cleared his throat. ‘You’re Tyler. Infinite Eyes Tyler.’
Tyler almost rolled his eyes. So, Wren was a fan, and had been a lot drunker last night than Tyler had the wherewithal to notice.
Wren took another gulp of his drink and grimaced, his complexion paling three or four shades at once. ‘Hang on,’ he grumbled, putting his coffee down. He hurried out of the room. A moment later, Tyler heard the familiar sound of puke hitting water. At least he made it to the bathroom.
Tyler reached to put his coffee down on the floor and swore under his breath, white-hot sparks of pain shooting from the small of his back. He inhaled deep, felt the movement rolling through his whole body, gritted his teeth and forced himself to stand up.
Tyler caught his own eye in the mirror. He didn’t look half bad, considering he was wearing yesterday’s clothes and felt like he’d recently been hit by a truck. He tucked his hair behind his ear and set his jaw. ‘You see?’ he hissed at himself. ‘Not that bad after all.’
Tyler strode across the hall and rapped his knuckles against the bathroom door. ‘You okay in there?’ he called.
‘Yeah,’ Wren’s replied. ‘I’m done.’ The words echoed in the toilet bowl.
‘With life, or puking?’ Tyler asked.
‘Both. You don’t happen to have a shirt I can borrow?’ said Wren Tyler heard him slump against the wall. He sounded small and far away.
‘Leaving the house in my clothes? What will the neighbours think?’
‘Better than if I walked out covered in puke,’ Wren pointed out.
Tyler laughed. ‘Do you want to take a shower?’
‘I would but there’s someone passed out in your bath.’
The lock clicked and the door opened. Wren was holding his t-shirt in his hand. His chest was bare and beautiful despite its slight sheen. Tyler could not keep his gaze from trailing back and forth across him, drinking in the lines of his chest, the gentle slope of his throat up to his jaw. And his lips, Christ. Tyler was going to file a complaint.
‘Warn me before you’re naked,’ said Tyler, before he could stop himself.
Wren blushed, ducking his head. Tyler had a sudden and almost overwhelming urge to bite him.
‘You were offering me a shower?’ said Wren
Tyler nodded and forced himself to meet Wren’s gaze. It didn’t really help. It was a testament to the rest of Wren’s appearance that anything could distract Tyler from Wren’s eyes, framed so thickly with lashes.
‘Tyler?’ said Wren.
Tyler blinked. ‘Yeah, right. Sorry. In my room, there’s a shower in the en-suite.’
Wren looked appalled. ‘You mean I didn’t have to run across the hallway in my underwear?’
‘If you’d asked, I’d have told you.’
Tyler stepped aside, gripping onto the banister. The stairs were strewn with cigarette butts and odd articles of clothing; a cowboy hat; an elbow length glove; a pair of crotch-less knickers. Joel, Tyler’s bass player, loved being on stage as much as Tyler did, but parties were his natural habitat. Every few days their little house would be packed full of York’s music scene, vodka and coke slopping into the carpets and a haze of smoke rising from the crowd of people around the bong Joel bought when he was in Amsterdam. Joel was always in at least two places when they had people over, pouring shots and smoking weed, standing in the garden and holding back some girl’s hair as she puked in the bath. Tyler flitted from room to room, recognised and avoiding sinking into conversations. He didn’t want to chat. He wanted to be noticed.
Tyler sent an empty vodka bottle skittering across the tiles with his toe as he stepped into the main bathroom. Joel’s hand was hung over the edge of the bath. He was wrapped in the shower curtain, its pole snapped and cradled in his arms. His bass guitar was wedged between his knees. Tyler decided he didn’t really want to know why.
‘Hey, Joel,’ Tyler said loudly.
Joel moaned wordlessly, clutched the curtain pole tighter, and rolled towards the wall. His shoes screeched against the tub. Tyler nudged him unenthusiastically, only to elicit another animal cry.
‘Get out of the bath,’ said Tyler.
Tyler tugged at the curtain pole and Joel whined, high-pitched and pathetic. When Tyler let go it clattered against the wall. This disturbed Joel enough to make him open his eyes. ‘Dude,’ he croaked. ‘What time is it?’
Joel sobbed dryly. ‘I only slept for like four hours.’
‘You have a bed literally fifteen feet away.’
‘People are in it, dude,’ said Joel, as though this should have been obvious. His eyes were already closed again. Tyler wondered why Laura had not come and turned on the taps yet. That would get Joel moving. Tyler considered doing it himself, but he would have to stretch. The ache in his back throbbed to remind him that would be a bad idea.
Tyler sighed in defeat and returned to his bedroom. The door to the en-suite was ajar; probably an invitation to follow Wren into the shower. To drink the steam and press his lips to Wren’s damp skin. But Tyler’s back hurt and there was a patch of gauze over the hole the doctors had left in his pelvis, so he sat down on the edge of the bed and stared at the rug instead.
The shower shut off. Wren’s wet feet slapped onto the tiles. A moment later he emerged, jean’s over his shoulder, towel around his waist. ‘Hey,’ he said, obviously surprised to find Tyler sitting there. His cheeks went pink. ‘I’ll… I’ll just…’ He started to retreat into the en-suite.
‘I don’t mind,’ Tyler said.
Wren stopped, eyes narrowed as he looked Tyler up and down. Tyler watched him back, drinking in every inch of Wren’s unmarked skin, flushed from the warm water of the shower. His limbs were long and soft-looking, and he shifted his weight from foot to foot like a young deer, anxious under Tyler’s gaze. Tyler tried to smile encouragingly at him, feeling very old and incredibly, horrifically tired.
Wren dipped his gaze and pulled on his jeans. Tyler tried not to look too disappointed.
‘Shirts are in the top drawer, if you really want,’ he offered.
‘Thanks.’ Wren turned around with one of Tyler’ favourite shirts in hand, blue and worn soft with age. It was a little too small for Wren when he put it on, but Tyler wasn’t going to complain.
‘You can borrow my stuff anytime,’ said Tyler.
Wren tugged the hem of Tyler’s shirt, his cheeks turning even pinker. Tyler cocked his head to the side, unable to keep the smile off his face.
‘What?’ said Wren.
Wren smiled back. Tyler’s gaze trailed across him again. It was already starting to feel like a habit. Tyler made half a move, shifting forwards slightly to the edge of the bed, reaching out to put a hand on Wren’s arm, to trail his fingers up towards his neck and pull him in. It struck through him like lightening, a shock of pain so bright his breath caught and he doubled over.
‘Tyler?’ Wren said.
‘It’s fine,’ Tyler hissed. He pushed himself up, forced himself to meet Wren’s gaze with a smile. Tyler could feel his eyes prickling, and he cursed himself for what he must have looked like, practically crying over nothing at all.
‘I…’ said Wren. ‘I should probably go.’
Wren shifted his weight uncomfortably. ‘I’m sorry.’
‘Nah, it’s fine.’ Tyler waved his hand, but he had to swallow the lump in his throat. It really wasn’t fine, even though it should have been. As a rule, Tyler never had the same person in his bed twice. It was part of this thing he was crafting, bigger than himself. He didn’t date. It wasn’t as though he’d so much as stolen a kiss from Wren, but Tyler felt small, silly like a child. He picked at the leather bands around his wrists.
‘You guys are playing Stone Roses on Thursday, right?’ said Wren.
Tyler looked up. ‘We are.’
‘I might come along?’
It was embarrassing, the way that made Tyler grin. He tried to shake himself out of it, stretching his hands above his head, even though it hurt. ‘Cool,’ Tyler said, closing his eyes.
‘Right. I’ll just,’ Wren gestured towards the door.
‘Okay. See you then,’ Tyler squeaked.
Wren paused in the doorway, looking Tyler up and down. Tyler’s heart hammered. There was something like concern in Wren’s eyes and Tyler desperately hoped he wasn’t going to ask if Tyler was alright, because he wasn’t sure if he could bite back the truth. Wren didn’t say anything, though. He just left.
Tyler heard the front door clatter shut and all the air whooshed out of his chest. He fell back against the mattress, a dropped marionette. His sheets smelled unfamiliar, his own smells mixed in with Wren’s, and it made his eyes prickle. He bit his lip; he would not cry. He curled onto his side and let the ache in his spine engulf him, let it burn out all thought from behind his eyes. He didn’t move until his phone started ringing.
There was a bird singing a song which was strikingly like the dawn chorus. He wondered if it could tell that darkness wasn’t fading, but bleeding from the ground and from the sky and would soon swallow the narrow strip of day that remained. The mist rose, parting the hedgerow once more from the blurred shapes of the forest. He wondered how he ever saw that grass as green, how he ever believed the sky could be blue. Everything was cast in shades of grey.
Tyler couldn’t have cancer; that would be ridiculous. It didn’t matter what that doctor had told him. That tone of voice she’d had, how she’d spoken slow and quiet like he was a mouse. Couldn’t she see it had to have been a mistake? He went running on Tuesdays and Thursdays. At least on the weeks when he remembered. He still did a lot of moving around; he worked up a sweat most nights he had a gig, if not on stage then in bed immediately afterwards. He hardly smoked any pot at all, and he’d curbed his nicotine habit right back to just one or two a day, if that. He didn’t have cancer. Old people got cancer, and people in movies. Not him, just turned twenty-four a week ago and the lead singer of a band that was only just starting to find its feet.
His fingers were shaking. There were butterflies in his stomach. They weren’t the about-to-get-kissed-kind or the about-to-pass-out kind. They were all wrong. Huge mutant beasts tearing up his insides.
His vision was blurring slowly. He blinked and it cleared, hot streams of tears wet down his cheeks. They dripped down onto his jeans, darkening the denim where they landed. Tyler stared at them. ‘Stop it,’ he hissed. ‘Stop it right now.’ He got to his feet, paced back and forth over the rug. He grabbed one of his guitars and slung it over his shoulder, angrily punching out chords that made no sense. ‘For god’s sake, Tyler, who the fuck do you think you are?’
He sat down heavily on the ground, guitar in his lap. ‘Fuck.’ He clawed at the back of his neck, felt the skin buckling under fingers. He didn’t need to go back to the hospital for five days. It couldn’t be that bad if they could wait five days. There was no point even thinking about it, no point in considering. He could spend the next 432000 seconds obsessing over it or he could carry on with his life. There was a gig on Thursday. Wren was going to be there. Soft, gentle Wren. All quiet smiles and warm skin. Wren who blushed when Tyler looked at him too long. Who left.
‘You’re overthinking it,’ he whispered. He lowered his hand back to the neck of the guitar, and finally pulled out a tune. It was quiet, sad. It echoed around the hollow spaces inside of him. He mumbled half formed lyrics, little musings. ‘I can’t sleep, bring me, I can’t sleep… Nepenthe.’
‘That’s, uh, cute.’ Joel was standing in the doorway. Tyler stopped playing.
‘What do you want?’
Joel frowned. ‘I was just coming to ask if you wanted to smoke. We’ve got a bud left over from last night.’ Joel was looking at Tyler with an awful expression. ‘Dude, are you okay?’
Tyler laughed so bright it should have shattered the windows. Joel shifted uncomfortably.
‘I’m fine,’ said Tyler, grinning so hard it hurt his cheeks.
‘Okay,’ said Joel, eyebrows raised. ‘Me and Laura are in the kitchen, if you want to join.’
‘I’ll be down in a minute.’
Tyler carried on staring at the place where Joel had been standing for a long time after the doorframe was empty. It was like nothing had changed. It could stay that way as long as Tyler could keep himself together.
Fig. 3. Marnie
Marnie tugged the colourful ribbons she had looped through the zip tabs on her school bag. The bag rattled as she swung it onto her back, dozens of pin badges quivering. ‘BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!’ ‘HAVE A LOVELY DAY’ ‘SMILE!’ ‘INFINITE EYES FORVER’. She hurried down the aisle towards the exit of the bus, deftly stepping over someone’s deliberately extended leg. ‘Thanks,’ she said at the driver as her feet met the pavement. The doors hissed and closed. The bus boomed and juddered and left her behind, trailing a fast-thinning cloud of exhaust fumes.
She adjusted her bag on her shoulders and pulled up her trousers. Her phone buzzed in her pocket. Are you back yet? her friend Cherry was asking. Marnie replied that no, she wasn’t.
Cherry was at University in Suffolk. She had a flat she shared with friends and went to parties a lot. She always dressed in lace and she looked like goth princess in her Instagram pictures. Marnie wasn’t ever invited to parties and her mum wouldn’t let her wear anything people could see through, but Cherry didn’t know that. She didn’t know much about Marnie at all, and Marnie liked it that way.
Instead of heading up the hill towards her house, Marnie crossed the road. A warm gust of wind trembled the trees around her. Her phone buzzed again. Only eight hours of September left. It’s almost Tyler’s birthday, Cherry’s text read.
Marnie smiled as she stepped into the newsagents. It was the only shop in her village besides the Little Waitrose by the garage. This was somehow as embarrassing as not having any friends at school or not being able to wear whatever she liked, so Cherry didn’t know about the village, either. She headed right to the back of the shop, her palms skimming Mars Bars and packets of crisps and the edges of magazines. She picked up two bottles of diet cola and a box of cake mix. She pressed three pound-coins into the wrinkled hand of the shop keeper.
It was almost October but the warm sun dappling the pavement reminded Marnie of summer dresses, white socks slipping into her shoes. When they were little, Marnie and her sister would run home hand in hand. Looking up the steep hill that led to their house, Marnie wondered how they’d ever managed it. Her dad used to joke that it was the only hill in Kent. He didn’t tell jokes anymore.
A few leaves had already fallen onto Marnie’s driveway. Her dad’s car was parked down the side of the house, like it always was. Her mother’s Land Rover was gone.
Marnie hopped up the porch steps and shouldered the unlocked door wide. She kicked off her shoes, leaving warm footprints on the tiled floor. The kitchen looked exactly how she’d left it in the morning, scattered with dirty crockery, a heap of damp clothes waiting to go into the dryer. Marnie pulled the last load of laundry out, still warm from finishing its spin. As she waited for the oven to preheat, she collected breakfast-dirty bowls from the table and stacked them neatly in the dishwasher along with a couple of stray pots from last night’s dinner.
She had decided months ago how she was going to spend Tyler’s birthday. She’d already got bags of crisps and popcorn stashed under her bed. She’d even smuggled a bottle of peach schnapps from the cabinet in the dining room. She was sure her parents wouldn’t notice; the bottle was grimy with dust and the label had started to curl at the edges. She hadn’t actually drunk any of it yet, but it smelled like canned peaches so couldn’t be that bad.
Marnie tipped the cake mix powder into a bowl, bright funfetti gleaming amongst the white flour and sugar. She rooted through one of the cupboards, kneeling on the marble counter. She pulled out more coloured bits and a tub of marshmallow fluff to sandwich the cake together once it had cooled. She added water and an egg, stirred vigorously, and ate a generous spoonful. Her mum would have told her off if she’d seen her, so she had another mouthful and smiled to herself.
Marnie took a picture of the unbaked cake and posted it on the website she and Cherry had made together. Nearly birthday time!, she captioned it. A moment later, Cherry liked the post. Marnie smiled.
The site didn’t get many visitors. Hardly anyone listened to Infinite Eyes. They hadn’t made any music for six years, not since Tyler died, and they hadn’t exactly been popular before that. Most of the comments Marnie and Cherry got were asking what on earth it was that made them love this weird, old band as much as they did.
It was the lyrics, sometimes. They spoke to her and looped around and around in her head. It was Tyler’s voice when he sang, the way it caught in his throat from time to time. It was Tyler himself, his heavy eyes and the way he moved in the grainy footage he uploaded on his blog. In Marnie’s favourite picture, Tyler had his eyes half shut, the head of a rose in his wide-open mouth. The caption said, ‘thorns in my throat’. Marnie had painted that quote in art class, hung the canvas over her bed and draped the thorny letters in rose-coloured fairy lights.
Marnie had discovered Infinite Eyes by accident. She’d heard the songs playing through the thin wall that separated her bedroom from her sister’s, late into the night. Marnie couldn’t remember why she took the CD; she’d only gone into Kim’s room to reclaim a borrowed book. It was one Kim had obviously burnt herself, a plain disc with the words ‘Infinite Eyes’ scrawled on it in nearly-illegible sharpie. Marnie hadn’t liked it at first, but that was probably sound quality was awful and she could hardly hear anything Tyler was saying.
She didn’t listen to the CD again for months. It had sat forgotten on her bedside table; under a pile of schoolwork she couldn’t bring herself to even look at. Kim was the clever one, the one who got into the posh private school up the road. Their parents were so proud when Kim had sent off her application to Cambridge. They’d taken the whole family up to London for dinner to celebrate. Marnie remembered how much Kim had been laughing that night. In the last photo of the two of them together – which Marnie had studied for hours – there was no trace of pain in Kim’s wide smile, no indication of what she must have been feeling inside. Marnie could not understand how Kim could have been sitting so close to her and been so lost.
It had happened right after a fight they’d had. Marnie couldn’t even remember what it was about, and she’d racked her brains over and over. People told Marnie it wasn’t her fault, that the argument didn’t matter, that it was probably about nothing at all. But Marnie had to think it was about something. She couldn’t remember if they’d worked it out before Kim went upstairs, if the last thing she’d ever said to her sister were words of hate or resolution.
Cherry didn’t know about Kim. Marnie wasn’t going to tell her. She hated the way people at school looked at her now. It was worse than when they used to call her ‘Mangy Marnie’. She bet that Tyler would understand it. She bet that he hated when people looked at him like they felt sorry for him. She bet she could tell him about Kim, and it wouldn’t change the way he looked at her one bit. It didn’t matter that he couldn’t tell her she was right. She was sure of it.
Marnie opened her laptop. She had her next Infinite Eyes analysis video already uploaded, waiting for her to post at midnight, the very moment that Tyler would have been turning thirty. It was a big day. She’d been working on the video for months, tracking through every second of the song she was analysing. It was the last song Tyler ever recorded, and it was just him and his guitar. It was only a minute and forty-two seconds long, and Marnie had memorised every moment, every word and every breath between them.
She listened to it again as she iced Tyler’s birthday cake with marshmallow fluff. The way Tyler smiled at the camera before he played the first chord was sad. It didn’t really meet his eyes. He was wearing a black beanie, pulled down over the tops of his ears. His clothes were loose and bulky, but you could tell how thin he was beneath them. Wires trailed out from under the hem of his hoodie, snaking over his pyjama trousers. In another three weeks, he would be dead.
‘This song again, really?’ Cherry said from Marnie’s phone, propped up against the microwave. Marnie had almost forgotten they were still video calling, she was so absorbed in the music, listening for anything she might have overlooked every time before.
‘What if I’ve missed something important?’ Marnie asked.
‘Get lost. You must have watched that thing a million times.’
Marnie rolled her eyes knowing that Cherry wouldn’t see it. The connection was too poor.
Marnie leaned close to her laptop, close to Tyler, and licked the last of the marshmallow fluff from the knife. Tyler finished the song and reached out to the camera as though to switch it off. It always made Marnie’s heart speed up. He hesitated, fingers close to the lens, making him look miniscule behind it. He dropped his arm and drew a long, crackling breath. Marnie breathed with him. Tyler looked right at her, his eyes dazzling across time and space to meet Marnie’s gaze. He closed them again, and said, just barely audible, ‘okay’.
In Tyler’s background there was a clatter. The screen froze; the end of the video felt no less abrupt than the first time Marnie had seen it.
‘I always think he’s going to say something,’ said Cherry.
‘I talk about that in the video,’ said Marnie. She stared at Tyler’s frozen image, blurred and pixelated. She wished she could hit play and find out what had interrupted him or reach inside the screen and speak to him herself.
‘Do you think he knew that ‘Where Roses Grow’ would be the last thing he ever played?’ Cherry asked.
Marnie picked up her phone and studied Cherry’s face on the screen. ‘I don’t know,’ said Marnie.
‘Maybe it wasn’t,’ Cherry sighed. ‘Maybe he played something else, but he didn’t record it.’
‘It’s still the last thing he played for us.’
‘He probably played something for Wren, though,’ said Cherry.
Marnie sighed. Wren Abelard. There were hardly any pictures of them together, hardly any pictures of Wren Abelard at all that Marnie could find. The ones Tyler had put on his blog were candid; a shot of across a dark room; the back of his head; his face only half in the frame. Maybe the clatter that had cut off whatever Tyler was going to say was Wren Abelard, managing to stay out of view.
‘I’m going to grab something to eat now; I’ll call you later, okay?’ Cherry said from Marnie’s phone. ‘The video is good, babe. Tyler would be proud. Try not to drive yourself nuts obsessing over what you might have missed.’
Marnie blushed. Her phone screen went dark.
Marnie licked marshmallow fluff off the side of her hand and sighed. She didn’t think Tyler had been talking to her personally, but he had been talking to someone. It just so happened that she was the only one listening carefully enough to hear it.
It wasn’t just the songs. It was the silences at the end of every track. It was the bated breaths hidden in the moments before the instruments kicked in. It was the way Tyler always ran his sentences together like he wanted every paragraph to be an adventure, or perhaps was trying to show the chaos of a moment in his life, like there was no time for pause or respite, because he had to keep moving, because there just wasn’t time. Perhaps he could not keep this honesty from pouring out whenever he sat down to write.
When it was a minute to midnight, Marnie uploaded her video. She lit candles on Tyler’s birthday cake and poured herself a glass of peach schnapps and diet coke. She watched the seconds tick by on her phone, the flickering candle flames reflected in the screen. In the last moments, she closed her eyes before the alarm rang and Tyler’s voice and guitar spilled into her dark bedroom. ‘Happy Birthday,’ she whispered as though she would be interrupting him if she said the words properly aloud. She took a big gulp of her too-sweet drink and grimaced, before blowing out the candles.
Marnie touched the picture of Tyler that stood on her bedside table. ‘I love you,’ she said.
When the song ended, he replied. ‘Okay.’
Fig. 4. Lila
Lila half-rolled onto her side and into somebody’s shoulder. Her heart jumped up her throat and she scrambled across the mattress. She clutched the duvet to her bare chest and Ash peered up at her. His usually-artfully-styled hair was a dark, frizzy cloud around his head.
‘Not again,’ said Lila. She fumbled around the bed and down the vest she’d been wearing last night shoved between the mattress and the wall. When she pulled it on bits of cornflake and an old plaster floated down onto the bed.
‘Morning,’ said Ash. He had his phone in his hands, a video paused on the screen. He shifted up and leaned the pillows against the headboard. ‘How’s your head?’
‘Murder. Seriously, Ash, we have to stop doing this.’
Ash’s gaze flickered up from the phone for a moment. ‘Why?’
‘Because. We’re friends.’
‘Can’t we be friends that have sex?’
‘Ash!’ Lila threw the duvet aside and clambered across Ash’s legs. She scrambled through the heap of clothes in the open suitcase lying on the floor until she found some pyjama bottoms. Ash was paying no attention. He continued scrolling on his phone, free hand absently tracing the long scar under his nipple. A flash of memory made Lila shudder, of pressing her lips to that same scar. ‘Don’t you have somewhere to be?’ she said.
‘Not until three thirty. Do you?’
Lila huffed and flopped down onto the rug. On the other side of the door, she heard a pan loudly clink against the countertop and winced. Thea was making fried eggs, loudly. Lila covered her face with her hands; Thea was a good friend, but it was wise not to piss her off. Especially when Lila was sleeping in her tiny spare bedroom.
‘Oh, she definitely heard us,’ said Ash, helpfully.
Lila groaned and got to her feet. ‘You know, I’d really like not to make her hate me before I find somewhere else to sleep.’
Ash scoffed. ‘She’ll never hate you. She adores you. Should have seen her face last night when you were singing.’
‘Oh god, you let me sing in front of her?’
‘You were the one that invited her to the rehearsal.’
Lila scowled. ‘I didn’t invite her. I asked her to meet me. It’s your fault for bringing all those cans of lager.’
‘They were free,’ said Ash, as though this explained everything. One of his many infuriating tendencies was offering wholly inadequate explanations with such self-assuredness that at first, they seemed entirely reasonable. That was how he’d convinced Lila to rehearse with his band after their old singer had packed it in, and how he’d managed to get her to keep drinking last night.
They’d known each other for years; Thea had caught the tail end of one of Ash’s gigs and pulled Lila along to the next one. Ash was the lead guitarist and acted every bit of it. Lila’s ex, Elliot, had hated him. In fairness, Ash had an alluring sort of swagger to him that had been infuriating to Lila too, right up until they’d ended up in bed together. Ash had been small and vulnerable, so soft and sweet. It was easier to deal with his ego when she knew what it was protecting.
Part of the problem was guilt. For too long, Lila had followed Elliot’s lead on Ash, even though she hated the names Elliot called him behind his back. Thea always got this look on her face when Elliot talked like that. She never said anything to Lila, not until after the relationship was over. Lila wasn’t sure if she wished she had or not. Maybe hearing the rush of criticisms, hearing Thea call him a transphobe and a misogynist, maybe that would have made Lila pull away from Thea, too.
Ash shifted on the old mattress and set the springs off groaning, like they’d groaned underneath them all night, and Lila blushed. The sex was just something to do, something that made her feel less hollow for a little while. It would have been perfect if Ash didn’t keep opening up to Lila every time. He told her what he liked, asked her what she wanted, and gave it. He didn’t want a performance, not like Elliot and everyone else always had. He wanted her to know what felt good, what didn’t. To set limits, draw lines in the sand, to explain why they were there.
Lila could never explain her own lines in the sand, so mostly she tried not to show them, and it ached when Ash found them for himself. He’d apologised when he’d put his hands on her throat and seen the panic in her eyes. He’d held her when he’d fist peeled off her clothes and seen the jagged scars on her legs, touched them softly. He told her then how afraid he was that as soon as he took off his clothes people would call him a liar, when saw his wide hips, the shape of his thighs, all the things that made the doctors look at his body and still call him ‘female’ even though on the street nobody would think twice about calling him a man. He said he loved that he passed on the street, but that it made him even more afraid. He told her he still felt like a liar. Just a good one.
In the kitchen, Thea clattered a plate onto the countertop. Lila covered her face with her hands. Ash rolled his eyes and shook his head. Lila half smiled and sat sown on the edge of the bed.
‘What are you watching?’ she asked. On the screen, a girl with a razor-sharp fringe was paused, her cheeks pink with earnest.
‘How well do you know Infinite Eyes?’
Lila dropped her head back against the wall with a thud. ‘Dead guy, angsty lyrics, you and Thea are low-key obsessed?’
Ash chuckled. ‘There’s this fan site that popped up a couple of years ago, some girl in Kent runs it. She’s posted a video for Tyler’s birthday.’
‘He’s the dead guy, right?’
Ash made a performance of sighing at her and rolling his eyes. ‘He’s so much more than that. He was the writer, the singer, the lead guitarist. A genius, no denying.’
Lila scoffed. ‘Sounds like you’re in love with him.’
Lila shoved him in the shoulder. He grabbed her wrist, pulled her close to kiss her. It was a small, soft thing, and Lila pulled away immediately. She let her hair fall over her face in the hopes it would hide her blush.
‘You’re really good, you know,’ he said.
Ash groaned. ‘I don’t get why you won’t just let yourself have a good time. Why do have to make yourself so miserable?’
‘Shut up,’ Lila snapped again, this time more viciously. She jumped up from the bed and stormed out of the tiny spare bedroom.
Thea was sitting in her armchair by the window, the one it had taken them an hour to get up the narrow staircase to the flat. ‘Morning,’ said Thea coolly.
Thea peered up from her eggs, eyebrows raised. ‘Trouble in paradise?’
‘The pair of you are insufferable,’ Lila huffed. She grabbed a banana from the bowl on top of the fridge and flopped down onto the sofa opposite Thea.
‘Can you just, keep it down, in future? Some of us have jobs.’
‘It was Friday night.’
‘I have to maintain my sleep schedule,’ said Thea.
Lila snorted. ‘God, when did you become such a loser?’
Thea sighed and carried on eating her eggs.
Lila peeled her banana and took a bite. It wasn’t properly ripe, and the flesh had a sad, waxy texture that cloyed against her dried-out tongue. She couldn’t bring herself to swallow it, turning its remains in the sunlight and staring at the pattern her teeth had left in the flesh. After a few minutes, Ash emerged from Lila’s room. Lila didn’t get up and ignored the conversation he and Thea had as she let him out the door. When he was gone, Thea snatched the banana from Lila’s hands.
‘If you’re going to keep fucking him, could you at least be a little nicer to him afterwards? He comes off as an arrogant prick, but he’s a sensitive bean underneath.’
‘He kissed me.’
Thea laughed. ‘Sounds like he did a lot more than that.’
‘No. I mean, this morning. He kissed me.’
Thea frowned. She sat down on the sofa next to Lila and put her feet in her lap. She was wearing her slippers, huge fluffy things with bunny ears and pompoms on the back. Lila worried at one the ears.
‘You don’t have to stay single forever, you know,’ said Thea.
Lila cringed. She folded her legs closer and Thea’s feet dropped back onto the floor. Lila knew she meant well. She was putting Lila up, making her home a safe place for Lila to hide in. When Lila had shown up with her suitcase six months ago, she’d promised it would only be for a few nights. She could barely remember it, now. The memories felt like something she’d seen in a film. Curled up on Thea’s spare bed for days, crying more than she thought anyone could possibly cry. She couldn’t go back to the bar; Elliot worked there, too. She’d just laid there until they called and told her not to bother to come in again. It was the only job she’d ever had, and there was no chance of getting a good reference now.
Thea patted Lila on the knee. ‘So. Do you like him?’
‘The Dalai Lama,’ Thea deadpanned. ‘Ash, you prick.’
‘We’re friends, aren’t we?’
Thea sighed. ‘Yeah. But do you like him?’
‘Course I like him. He’s an arsehole.’
Thea spluttered with laughter. ‘Lila!’
‘He is. A proper lead guitarist. You should have heard him yesterday at rehearsals; he did a five-minute solo and nobody knew what to do. Katy and Cyrus were just sort of looking at each other, waiting for him to stop.’
Thea smiled. ‘You looked good, up there with them.’
‘We weren’t ‘up’ anywhere. It was Cyrus’ garage.’
‘You know what I mean.’
‘He wants me to join, properly. Be the lead singer.’
‘Are you going to do it?’
‘I don’t know, it’s stupid isn’t it? But it would be cool to be in a band.’
Thea rolled her eyes. She took out her phone from the pocket of her dressing gown and stared scrolling through. Lila watched the images flick past, Thea’s thumb tapping twice over them every now and then, so a little red heart appeared over the centre. Everything was so straightforward online; all the ugly bits of life could get edited away so it was all beautiful bathrooms and glittering beaches, faces full of makeup so rich and exquisite it could never be worn out of the house.
Lila hadn’t been on social media since she’d run out of the flat she’d shared with Elliot. There were too many pictures of them together, smiling, happy. Little video clips of their holiday in Paris, one’s he had taken of her outside of the louvre. He’d said she looked beautiful that day, in the dress he’d bought her for her birthday. When he’d hit her after dinner, she’d got blood on one of the straps. She’d spent so long hiding in the bathroom of their hotel room that she’d left it too long and the white satin was forever marred with a little brown stain. Lila tongued the scar on her lip.
Thea double tapped and a red heart appeared on the forehead of a girl with a razor-sharp fringe just before the image began to move; a video, not a picture. It was the same one Ash had been watching. Thea glanced at Lila and clicked on the link underneath the clip, opening the full version of the video on YouTube and repositioning the phone so Lila would have a better view.
The girl spoke fast and reverently, sections of deep analysis interspersed with clips of Tyler Brundle, sitting forlornly on a hospital bed, standing magnificent at the front of a stage. He was washed out in the low-res footage of the music video that started playing afterwards, eyes set deep in shadows, skin as white as a ghost. Was he already dying then, Lila wondered? It didn’t matter, she supposed. Dying or not he was dead now. Dead in all the footage, dead in all the photographs. However present and vital he seemed there was no bringing him back.
At the end of the next video, he stepped away from the microphone. ‘That wasn’t enough,’ he said, shaking his head. ‘Go again.’
Fig. 5. Wren
The sun was setting as Wren climbed out of his battered Ford Fiesta, the dusky light muting the colours of the autumn leaves. There were only a few dozen left clinging to the trees that leaned over the entrance to the train station. The bronchial shadows of the branches clawed at him as he walked inside. Tyler had once said there was something spooky about York train station. Something about the way the vaulted ceiling made one person’s footsteps sound like a crowd. Wren thought he understood, now he knew what it felt like to be haunted.
He was early; Tabby’s train would not get into York for another half an hour. He should have gone home after work, changed his shirt, picked up some booze from the corner shop. Instead he was fiddling with the buttons on his coat, sitting on different seats along the platform.
Wren preferred going down to London to see Tabby. She could show him the sights and they’d both stumble into her tiny studio flat in the early hours and laugh until the sun rose. It was this unspoken rule, though, that around this time every year she’d come back to York and they’d re-tread their old steps together, and they would talk about Tyler.
This year it was happening a few weeks late. Tabby worked long nights and it was rare for her to get time off in the week, but she had always managed to get to York within a few days of Tyler’s birthday before. She’d called, apologised. They hadn’t talked about why pushing the date was anything more than an inconvenience. Wren had spent Tyler’s birthday alone in his little house, finishing a bottle of gin.
It started the week after. He’d been driving to work and listening to local radio when they’d started playing an Infinite Eyes song. The shock of it had knocked the air out of his lungs. He’d pulled the car up, his hand shaking a hair’s breadth from the switch on the radio, needing for the sound to stop but unable to keep from listening. Wren hadn’t heard an Infinite Eyes song for years, wouldn’t allow it, and Tyler’s voice was not like he remembered.
Tyler, his Tyler. It was only when the DJ started talking at the end of the track that Wren snapped back into himself.
Infinite Eyes had been everywhere since. Tyler was everywhere. His social media trickled snippets about him. At the university library where he worked, Tyler’s name kept drifting past him like a leaf on the winds of conversation.
The London train was predictably delayed. When Tabby finally arrived, Wren had been stewing on the platform for almost an hour.
She waved at Wren once she spotted him and walked faster, her lime-green shoes clattering audibly despite the echoic hum of the train. Her hair was magenta, and she was wearing a pale-yellow rain mac with large navy polka dots all over it. She flung her arms around Wren and kissed him on the cheek. She looked him up and down and he wondered what she saw. ‘Have you changed your clothes since I left?’ she asked, like she always did, and Wren rolled his eyes.
‘Nice coat,’ he said.
‘I brought three bottles of wine.’
‘They were left over from an event at the museum. Real expensive stuff, I think. I can’t tell.’ She shrugged and adjusted the bag on her shoulder. Glass clinked inside it. ‘You look like you’ve not been sleeping.’
‘That’s code for ‘you look like shit’ so why don’t you just come out with it?’ Wren asked, without menace.
Tabby sighed. She was still smiling but Wren could tell she was worried. In the last few months he had been trying to design a way to appear better, for her. He always cleaned the house before she visited and phoned her at a different time every week in the hopes it made the calls seem spontaneous, frivolous, instead of like an appointment. He was fine. He was working and eating. Every now and he even mustered the conviction to go for a jog or do some yoga. He didn’t have a checklist for things that might signal that he was doing okay, but he was certain that if he did, all the boxes would have been ticked. He was satisfied that he was fine. It irked him when Tabby didn’t agree.
In the car, Tabby told Wren about work. He didn’t have very much to add to that conversation. Wren’s own job mostly involved sorting books returned to the university library. He didn’t even talk to the students most of the time. The books arrived to him through a hole in the wall that recognised them automatically. He stood beyond a pane of glass and received them, stacking them gently onto moving shelves, like the trays that nurses wheeled into operating theatres. If there was a lull in sorting, he would roll a shelf out of the glass-paned room and past the inside courtyard of armchairs and vending machines, into the rickety lift. The lift cheerily advised he take the stairs; ‘BURN CALORIES, NOT ELECTRICITY’. It was the same every day. No need for Tabby to be as bored as he was.
‘Shall we put on the radio?’ Tabby asked after she’d been talking a while.
‘Let’s not,’ Wren said, too quickly, because Tabby’s eyes were narrowed in suspicion when he glanced at her.
Wren laughed. ‘Are you seriously asking?’
Tabby smiled grimly. ‘Sorry.’
About six months after Tyler died Wren had spotted an old poster for one of Tyler’s gigs, nearly two and a half years old. He felt like he could have stayed there forever, remembering. His mind rushed to piece it all together, to work out how things could have been different if he’d just seen that poster when they’d first put it up. How much more time they could have had. Hearing his voice on the radio had been like a punch in the gut, every inch as excruciating as seeing his shaky, looping script on that poster just six months after he’d gone. How was Wren supposed to live his life when little reminders like that were going to crop up and demand to be thought about? How could he pretend that Tyler had not happened, when the world was so different without him?
‘Sorry about the state of the living room,’ Wren said as he let Tabby into the house.
Tabby peered around, drinking in the empty mugs and the stacks of unanswered post on the coffee table. ‘I love what you’ve done with the place,’ she said. ‘Have you even looked at the hoover since the last time I was here.’
‘I’ve been busy.’
Tabby folded her arms, picking up a letter and examining it. ‘Sure. When did you last leave this house?’
‘I came to pick you up. I go to work.’
‘Besides work and giving people lifts, Wren. You have friends, right?’
‘I have you.’
Tabby pursed her lips. Wren turned his back on her.
‘Don’t ask me to move again.’
‘I wasn’t going to,’ she said, quietly.
For dinner, Wren was making enchiladas, a favourite of Tabby’s, and they opened one of the bottles of wine she had brought as he chopped the onions. ‘This does taste expensive,’ Wren noted after his first sip.
Tabby was still filling her glass, burgundy liquid glugging free of the bottle’s slender neck, splashing against its new transparent vessel, leaving ghostly wobbles of crimson right up to the rim. Sometimes Wren tried to imagine that Tabby and Tyler were friends before Wren had met either of them. He would like to file them in the same place. They were not very similar, at least not in obvious or significant ways, so he wasn’t sure where the impulse came from. Tabby was moon pale and had a dusting of rusty freckles over her nose which she’d still been very self-conscious about when they’d first met, but now adored. Tyler’s freckles were secret, a join-the-dots map of the universe on his tawny back, lines reaching around his ribs to his sternum, finishing at his throat. That was the way they were meant to be traced. Wren would follow them when the sunlight was all caught in Tyler’s eyelashes, during those aching, quiet moments just after dawn, neither of them sleeping.
Wren yelped as the knife jammed into his index finger. Blood was much redder than wine. ‘Damn it,’ he muttered, sticking his stinging finger into his mouth.
‘Clearly the chef has had too much to drink.’
Wren glanced at his glass, foggy with fingerprints and decidedly absent of wine. Wren topped it up and took another emphatic sip. Tabby laughed.
Wren was never sure what was expected of him at times like this. Normally when Tabby came to stay, they’d watch crappy movies or crawl between the bars that had been their favourites when they were both still students, but Tyler’s birthday cast a funereal glow on any of the evening’s proceedings. It didn’t matter what they did, it was impossible to escape it.
Wren tipped all the vegetables into the pan. The ancient strip light in the kitchen ceiling sapped the brightness out of them; peppers, onions, courgettes all dulled to tainted greys.
‘Have you made any plans for tomorrow?’ Tabby asked. She was staring at the hissing pan determinedly.
‘Not really.’ Wren shook spices over the contents of the pan a little too aggressively. He hoped he hadn’t made it all too spicy to be edible.
‘I was thinking maybe we could go to the museum gardens in the afternoon,’ said Tabby.
Wren glanced at her again. ‘Maybe.’
‘Remember when we all had that picnic there in the summer? We should do something nice like that.’
Wren stung. He and Tyler had walked around the grounds hand in hand to escape Tabby’s frightening friends, the kind of people who excluded gluten from their diet by choice. Tyler had been wilting by then, but he’d laughed as they’d sat on one of the low benches along the path. The sun had caught in Tyler’s eyes and he’d been resplendent. He had laughed when Wren told him he was beautiful, said he wasn’t, said he looked like a crack head. Wren could still remember the way Tyler had felt in his arms, trembling in the summer heat. How he had traced the edges of Wren’s lips with his icy fingers. Wren hadn’t wanted him to come. He should have been resting.
The people on the radio didn’t know about things like that. They didn’t know that Wren and Tyler had bought ice-creams on their way out of the museum gardens from a van parked by the large iron gate. They didn’t mention the way Tyler had smiled as Wren had stolen a strawberry kiss from the corner of his mouth. They didn’t know anything about him.
Wordlessly, Tabby rubbed her hand on the small of Wren’s back. He sniffed hard, returned to his stirring. He drained another glass of wine. ‘Sorry,’ he said.
‘No,’ said Tabby quietly. ‘I’m sorry I couldn’t be here last month. We should have celebrated his birthday properly.’
‘It hasn’t really been Tyler’s birthday for six years. It’s stupid that you’re even here.’
Tabby shifted, her shoes screeching on the tiled floor. ‘Wren…’
‘Come on. You only came because you’re worried about me.’
Tabby sighed. Wren heard the cap twist off the wine, the glug and splash of her refilling her glass. She appeared at his side, holding the glass towards him like she was proposing a toast. Wren clinked his against it. ‘To overly concerned friends,’ Wren declared.
‘Here, here!’ said Tabby.
Wren drained his glass again and slammed it against the counter so hard Tabby winced and he worried the stem might snap.
Tabby cleared her throat. ‘Woah there.’
Wren stirred the food. Its aroma was beginning to fill the room, heavy and almost sweet. It was the kind of smell that would be in his hair for days if he didn’t wash it. He could remember the taste of this dish on Tyler’s tongue. He’d remembered it so many times that now he couldn’t even tell the moments apart. That was another reason he shouldn’t think about Tyler often.
‘Infinite Eyes popped up in my Instagram feed last week,’ said Tabby.
Wren’s stomach flipped, and he had to clutch the kitchen counter to keep himself steady.
‘Have you seen this video everyone has been talking about?’
‘Why would I have?’ Wren snapped.
Tabby raised her eyebrows and sipped her wine. ‘It’s pretty good that everyone is talking about it though, right? He always wanted to be a rock star.’
‘He was a rock star,’ said Wren.
Tabby pursed her lips. ‘Have you heard from Joel and Laura?’
‘Why the fuck would I want to talk to them?’
‘Don’t you own Tyler’s rights? I thought that’s why-’
‘It’s not the whole reason we stopped talking. They’re arseholes.’
Tabby sighed. ‘Yeah, maybe. I just wondered, given they’re getting airtime now. Maybe you’d actually see some benefits from that.’
‘I’m not interested in that money.’
‘Tyler wanted you to have it, didn’t he? That’s why he gave the rights to you.’
‘I never asked him to,’ said Wren.
Tabby refilled both of their glasses. ‘It’s probably just pennies, anyway. Nobody pays artists properly anymore.’
Wren said nothing. Eventually, Tabby offered to help with the cooking, talked about her work again, and Wren pretended like he was listening. Instead he could hear that Infinite Eyes song in his head, looping around and around, his internal jukebox stuck on repeat. He knew exactly what it was to be haunted.