By Lauren Karcz
I don’t want Mike listening to Tusk because, while I’m playing it through the same app as everyone else, the album has a hum that was created for me alone. The secret frequency is in Christine McVie’s mournful mezzo-soprano in “Over and Over,” in the way she politely humps the lower harmony in “Think About Me,” and in how she makes “Brown Eyes” sound like a four-and-a-half-minute lower lip bite. It’s not for Mike to hear.
I’m wearing a denim dress and big aviator sunglasses like Christine in one of the Tusk recording sessions outtake videos. Mike and I are on the way to the donut shop–he saw National Donut Day on his desk calendar and he likes to celebrate this and other non-denominational holidays. Twelve jelly, right? he says on his way out of the truck, his smile meaning he’ll get six Boston creme pie and six chocolate glazed, our favorites.
Sometimes I read this Fleetwood Mac fan board full of grumpy folks who started seeing the band play in the 80s, and even they agree that “Think About Me” is the perfect song. I play it as soon as Mike’s gone. Every time, it sounds like the first time someone told me I was good.
Christine spent years in art school, studying sculpture, eventually wanting to be a teacher and then a housewife. It’s an absurd thing to picture her vacuuming at 10 AM, and just as absurd to think about all the lady rockers who never were, who took Valium through their thirties and cut their hair short at forty-four. I wonder when and if Christine became okay with not having children. I wonder if she ever aborted. I wonder if John was a good lover.
The endocrinologist told me Clomid would have side effects, but I didn’t anticipate vomiting up the treats from Mike’s non-denominational holidays, or waking at 4:30 with hot flashes. I started watching the Tusk sessions those early mornings, following how Christine sauntered around the recording studio with her champagne and cigarette. Vices and music–maybe she needed nothing more than that.
At six, my YouTube time was interrupted by the birds, mostly a nondescript brown one building her nest in an old hanging plant on the porch, each added shred of grass a note of instinct. Faith. The biology we cling to. Back in the 1979 videos, Christine and the band finished the album. And I kept taking the pills. The brown bird eventually settled in the finished nest, and I hated her eggs and mine.
This morning, I’d been awake for hours using my vibe and listening to “Brown Eyes,” when Mike got up to go run. When he came back, he told me about the nest. How it was a messy thing, held together with leavings. How shards of eggshell stuck to the nest half on the ground. Three wet bumps of feather and bone on the patio, and the mother bird nowhere to be seen. I didn’t want to know, but I needed to. I didn’t need to know, but I wanted to.
It has been six months since Christine died, and ten years since my Saturn Return. It has been seven minutes of Tusk since Mike left and now he arrives with the donuts. He hands me a chocolate glazed and a couple extra napkins for my eyes.
Whatcha listening to? he says, settling the donut box between us. Whatever it is, good choice, you.
Lauren Karcz is the author of a novel, The Gallery of Unfinished Girls (Harper), as well as short stories and essays in Anti-Heroin Chic, TINGE, the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, and other publications. She lives in Atlanta.