A quick bit with Rosalie...
Her blood was raging. Her pulse thumped in her wrists in unison with the bass, it thrummed at her temples and surged through every nerve in her body.
She was connected to the rest of the band through the vibrations in the floor: to Sam through the tom-tom that connected to her heel through a slightly wonky floorboard; to Pete through the bass that shook every particle in the room; to JD’s slide guitar that slithered up and down her spine; and to Liam’s voice pitched exactly a third above hers.
If sound waves were visible to the human eye, Rosalie knew that the room would be beautiful right now. She imagined them each with their own colours: Sam was always a bright blue; Pete a deep claret-ish red. JD was purple, the colour of emperors, while Liam was a deep and rich green. She did not know what colour she created, could not see her own sound as she could see theirs.
JD caught her eye to give her a cue to start the next verse and his broad, almost dopey smile made her own grow broader.
The song moved into Twain’s solo and her blood surged while she let her focus drop from her own efforts. The throbbing intensified to all points south: the pressure points in her booted feet and her pelvis, to places where blood did not ordinarily flow in such quantities.
The piano took over from the guitar, thunderous and rolling-
Rosalie woke abruptly. Disorientated and confused, a thousand thoughts rushed her brain while she was caught between worlds and uncertain what was real and what was imagined.
A dull ache settled in her abdomen – even inside her own head, her mother’s training (scolding) was such that she couldn’t name the thing itself – frustrating even though it ebbed away as she moved further away from her dreamscape into the real world.
The hotel room was quiet as only a hotel room at 3.54am could be: the only sounds were distant and served to prove her isolation. She willed herself back to sleep as she dreaded returning to the dream: it was exactly a life she did not have.
The Rosalie Organisation was a joke title but well-named. A slickly organised business and the perpetual motion machine of a large touring band of which Rosalie herself was only one small cog. This was not a family like Shadowlands had been a family. She found a groove each night on stage because they were all great musicians, but she did not find the colours, the vibrations, or the euphoria.
The last time she had felt so powerful in real life had been the last Shadowlands Mark 2 show, when she took centre stage for the first time ever and knew what it was to feel an entire audience send adulation, lust and love up to her on the stage; and to return it, in her way.
Plant or someone had been quoted as saying “Some nights I look out and want to screw the entire front row”, which had always seemed like exaggeration to Rosalie until that gig. That night she had felt something similar – not understood, but felt – and finally felt like she deserved to be where she was standing.
What remained of that was a memory of what was and what would not be again; out of grasp but not out of mind. She was not supposed to feel this way, and she was not meant to miss it. It was enough to make a girl mad.
Most of all though, she missed the colours and the feeling of being in the band. She had been one of them, a constituent part of something rendered far grander. It was that thing the audiences had wanted and she could not provide it all on her own.
After passing the day distracted and melancholy, Rosalie stood waiting in the wings waiting to be announced and resigned herself to knowing she would never hit the high she had so briefly touched with Shadowlands.
Yet – and yet! – her own audiences were enthusiastic enough to carry her onto the stage and through what was a truly wonderful show.
It just wasn’t enough to make her blood rage.