The Playlist

by Sophie Buono

When Katie woke up that morning, it seemed to her that just the right amount of light was seeping through the window. “Beautiful Day”1 rang in her ears as she cracked the window open and sipped in the clean, cold air. The breeze was so fresh and full of life, it could have been pink. “The heart is a bloom…” With Bono’s voice still belting in her head, she moved briskly toward her 9:30 a.m.

There the smooth melody faded and morphed into a steady pounding, and the agony of the lecture hall brought out Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall.”2 Katie leaned her head on her palm, longing to shout along, “Leave us kids alone!” Didn’t they know what day it was?

Luckily, her hope revived when she finally stepped back into the hallway. Gazing at the sea of people, she could see gems flicker here and there, looking even more polished than usual. As the heat welled up her, so did the opening of “Can’t Stop the Feeling,”3 a tune that made every previous minute of boredom melt away. In the crowd, some of them held roses, and many didn’t – but another would, one day. Katie knew it, because today was her day to hope.

She looked to her left and got a glance back – and to her right, again. It was all perfectly timed to the music. With that, the chorus spun her into a blissful frenzy, and she practically flew out of the building. The beat gripped her, and her feet felt light as she sauntered across the quad. Anything was possible today, because today her life could begin.

Suddenly she could do anything. Her bulging backpack landed in a slumping pile in the corner of her room, forgotten as “I Love It”4 blared through her brain. The stings of the past meant nothing now, and with an emphatic “I DON’T CARE,” Katie felt ready to dive into adventure.

That is, until she got the reminder email about her paper due at 5 p.m. That pulled the plug. For a moment, nothing but a piercing ring cut through the stunned oblivion. But then the melody surged back, this time as the frantic “It’s the End of the World As We Know It”5 – without feeling fine. Katie’s fingers became a blur on the laptop, and the precious hours drained all too quickly. But she hadn’t lost hope yet.  4:58. Send. Done. And the world broke into brighter lights than ever before. Pulling herself up, Katie echoed every line to “Run the World.”6 She had won her freedom and conquered her day, and now it would be her night.

As “Cheap Thrills”7 began to pulse through her, her friends joined the tune, each poised in a prime spot to begin preparations for the evening. The music continued as they glided from the room to the party, and Katie was ready.

Immersed in her song, she glued herself to the dance floor. Looking. She spied one who might have come in very smoothly, joining her tune at just the right cue. But he missed it and turned elsewhere.  Maybe the next dance. Another approached, but with bad timing. Awkward. Out of sync.

Katie’s spirits began to dip. What was happening to her perfect night?  When things didn’t get better, she finally slipped off the floor. Music still rushed through her ears. She turned away and tried to think, searching for a new song – one that would just fit.

She felt a tap on her shoulder. Again, bad timing.  She sighed, but when she turned around, something felt funny at her ears. Her music stopped. Quietly, he held out the earbuds and handed them to her. Then, with a small smile, he cleared his throat and said, “Hi.”

1 “Beautiful Day” — U2

2 “Another Brick In The Wall” — Pink Floyd

3 “Can’t Stop The Feeling” — Justin Timberlake

4 “I Love It” — Icona Pop

5 “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It” — R.E.M.

6 “Run The World” — Beyoncé

7 “Cheap Thrills” — Sia


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