a song to bring you home | a james/juliet mix
10 tracks + cover art
3 years later
summary: dreams and memories, looking back. disjointed stories about james ford.
word count: 2,600
spoilers: general for all seasons
Made for lost_land's big bang challenge.
Notes: On and post-Island. This is too many ridiculous words, my sincerest apologies. Normally, I don't try to explain mixes in great detail, and think people should just have at it. But I did try to do some things with this that I thought I should ramble about for a second. The mix and fic go hand in hand, with songs used as jumping off points for the short vignettes that follow. The songs chosen are meant to (hopefully) evoke several layers of time simultaneously (of course, not everything all the time, as that would be impossible, but): James and Juliet in the Seventies (their time together as well as the immediate aftermath of her death), James several years post-Island, looking back over his life and that time, and even a little bit of sideways thrown in. Two or three songs cast a wider net regarding his story (particularly the last two), while the majority pertain to their relationship. I was hoping to achieve a specific tone, one that kind of captures that mood of looking backwards, of dreams and memories, depression and nostalgia and moving on after experiencing a personal tragedy, but at the same time creating a chronological narrative of these two coming together, of him losing her, and of starting to live again off-Island. If that makes sense. (I think there's a way to read most of the songs lyrically from different vantage points in their/his life, ex.> "At the Hop" not only traces their tentative start, but also a later denial, a hope that he can somehow conjure her back into his life again). It's all 100% from the point of view of/about James Ford. My apologies in advance, the middle bit of this mix throws him into a dark pit of despair (plainly, I'm trying to depress the crap out of everyone), but as the arc of the songs curves back up, things get better again as you listen, I promise. One more thing, re: fic: with the exception of the intro/epilogue, in case it's somehow not clear (in which case, my bad):
*Italicized text = Dharma-era.
Regular text = Anywhere up to three-ish years post-Island (for the most part).
Mix .zip at the bottom of the post.
I half expect to see you
fill the autumn air
like breath —
At night I sleep
on clenched fists.
Days I'm like the child
who on the playground
not so much from pain
I'm tired of tide
taking you away,
then back again —
what's worse, the forgetting
or the thing
you can't forget.
-"Redemption Song," Kevin Young
He creates a list of memories, sometimes dreams,
cast in a haze of Island sun
and the passage of time.
(This wasn’t his idea, but an offhand suggestion from a shrink.
[Not the right word. they get offended, he learned fast. Psychiatrist.]
He went a handful of times. Caved under peer pressure. And one too many
It's been three years, or thirty-three, depending on his mood.
Soon, he realizes, she will have existed longer in his mind
than as flesh and blood beside him.
In sleep, his mind has always been overactive. Ever since he was
eight, his subconscious would take hold more often than not, and
plague him with nightmares.
As an adult, his mind still prefers to engage in this particular
brand of torment. (It's a familiar acronym.)
When he can’t sleep, he watches Seventies sitcoms
(TV - one of the things his Dharma home lacked),
and they remind him of being a kid
and they remind him of yesterday.
They’re comforting; the music and families and houses
and backyards and pat resolutions.
(Sometimes his nightmares have a laugh track.)
He does have good dreams (they're becoming more frequent).
A mix of memories and subconscious embellishments.
He peels them apart when they come into focus, soft or sharp.
He writes the real things down, as instructed.
It’s a photo album,
because he has no photos.
01. at the hop | devendra banhart
put me in your suitcase
let me help you pack
'cause you're never coming back
well, i won't stop all of my pretending
that you'll come home
you'll be coming home
put me in your tongue tie
make it hard to say
that you ain't gonna stay
wrap me in your marrow
stuff me in your bones
sing a mending moan
a song to bring you home
*She tended to select the older records in their collection
over the new releases (older being a relative term, 50s and 60s).
These were normal nights,
and they blurred together. Blended into yellow, green,
and orange (their decade had a color scheme).
Chilled burgundy wine (always a box in the fridge),
her fingers gripping the long glass stem,
the snap-sigh of sweating Dharma beer cans.
The look on her face as he drunkenly
serenaded her to "Rave On" that one night,
clad in socked feet and boxers,
sliding down their hallway,
Risky Business to the wrong song, eight years too early.
He crashed into her, wrapped his arms around the small of her back.
Her eyes narrowed, because it wasn't.
"Of the day you didn't leave me all alone on this rock."
It's in the still of his living room while reading a book
that he thinks she's about to walk, grease-stained
and exhausted, through the front door.
It's in that second before waking that he can still feel
the phantom weight of her arm draped across his chest.
02. bright pink bookmark | frightened rabbit
*He can’t remember everything they read, because they read a lot,
all the same books.
He took pleasure in the sound of pages turning as they sat
side by side, or her legs across his lap,
or straight up against the headboard in bed
(he called her Carol the first time they looked askance
at each other in this domestic position.
She called him Mike, and he
fell in love with her just a little bit more).
She had a sliver of Dharma-labeled cardboard from a cereal box
that she used as a bookmark.
He dogeared pages.
On a few occasions, they tackled the same novel at the same time,
their placeholders becoming a race
to the finish.
He re-reads some of their favorites, and in his mind
he tries to hear the words in her voice.
03. everyday | rogue wave
everyday it's getting closer
going faster than a roller coaster
a love like yours will surely come my way
everyday it's gettin' faster
everyone said, "go ahead and ask her"
come what may
do you ever long for true love from me?
*It was small, the stone. There was no excess of
income to speak of. But it suited.
Sometimes there were months between new shipments of goods
(and recruits) from the mainland. While he waited,
he figured he'd have time to let the idea grow
He never thought himself worthy of this kind of relationship.
Capable of this kind of commitment.
It was small, but it still glinted in the sun when he
held it in his palm.
He was going to ask.
But the timing had to be right.
He used the word widower once
and it didn’t feel like a lie.
He was (now) sure she would have said
In one particular nightmare, she says it over and over and over again.
[He leaves her standing on the dock and dives into cold water, frantic.
Searching for a flash of gold he let the Island swallow. He turns
while submerged, sees her waiting through the surface.
But this is a needle in a haystack.
And there's blood on his hands,
darkening the water.
He swims until he’s bogged down,
swims until he sinks.]
This is not his worst recurring dream.
04. babe, you turn me on | nick cave and the bad seeds
now the nightingale sings to you
and raises up the ante
i put one hand on your round ripe heart
and the other down your panties
you race naked through the wilderness
you torment the birds and the bees
you leapt into the abyss but find
it only goes up to your knees
everything is falling, dear
all rhyme and reason gone
it's just history repeating itself
and, babe, you turn me on
like an idea
like an atom bomb
*Some nights were so hot, so claustrophobic,
he thought he was going to lose his mind.
And maybe they both did, just a little.
On the record player: Heart. "Magic Man." Volume up.
He was an upstanding member of the Initiative now,
but this was the DI. Part community of scientists,
part secluded hippie commune.
And it was 1976.
"We need to do this more often."
As she spoke, he flicked ash into the bowl on the coffee table,
slid back on the sofa next to her. Nestled in.
"Frolic in the autumn mist?"
The rain outside sounded like a monsoon,
and the way the smoke left her lips made
She tilted her head back, shot him a smile.
She had never looked more at ease. He brought his lips
to hers, and she mumbled, between steady, slow kisses,
His right hand inched towards her stomach,
tracing one finger across her skin at the edge
of her waistband...
"Get high as kites, then."
...and moved slowly underneath.
She shifted her hips, stretched out her legs
at his touch.
His hand slid downwards, and she closed her eyes.
And started to laugh.
"Inspired by the music?"
The pace of his fingers quickened, and she reached out
for the armrest. Anticipation.
Daydreams are best. He aims for realism.
That night in the power out (responsibilities be damned).
Years of lazy, sunny Sundays (slow and steady).
Those times in the dark when they needed to forget (fast and urgent).
He only had one recurring nightmare before the Island.
Now he has too many.
[He follows her through the jungle, catching glimpses
between the leaves. He gets within reach, but
just before that final step
the ground opens up, dark and bottomless.
He's always too late.]
Every morning, he curls into the empty space beside him,
and he has to relearn how to breathe.
05. butterfly | wintersleep
mom told me i had her pretty eyes
mom told me i'd be a butterfly
mom told me of angels in the sky
mom told me good people never die
it's not fair
Daniel had said it with some conviction, and James
didn't care to test any theories for himself.
He figured out which trip to the mainland would get him
back in time to change everything,
but he never gave it serious consideration.
It was easier to ignore.
What's done is done.
That week, he was cagey, distracted.
They talked about anything and everything else.
Once, in the silence when it hovered in the air between them,
she had held out her hand, and he entwined his fingers with hers.
During that night, sleep was a distant concept. He thought about
his home in Jasper, Alabama, of alternating red and blue lights,
of blood on his blue checkered comforter,
and of eyes full of pity looking downward. Remembers kicking aluminum cans
in the backseat of his uncle Doug's Pinto at three o'clock in the morning, and
headlights snaking through the dark.
James stared at the wall, and her arm wrapped around him, tighter
than usual. It was this grip that made him sure.
He hadn't made a mistake.
After four decades and change, he'd lost, sometimes right
in front of his eyes (he piled the blame onto himself,
higher and higher):
good friends, his father, his mother, and her.
She had wanted to go home. To see her family again.
That's all, really.
That he had received the ticket out
was one more thing he decided he could
never come to terms with.
Every step he took (from the moment he walked off that plane),
and every move forward (the long walk from his car
to his daughter's doorstep for the first time).
"I wanted you to be able to go home."
Every single one spoke her name.
06. to build a home | the cinematic orchestra
there is a house built out of stone
wooden floors, walls and window sills
tables and chairs worn by all of the dust
this is a place where i don't feel alone
this is a place where i feel at home
i climbed the tree to see the world
when the gusts came around to blow me down
i held on as tightly as you held onto me
cause i built a home
until it disappeared
*He loved his adopted decade, and he knew that she did, too.
The first time he saw her with braids in her hair he made a
mental note. Saved the image for later recall.
They were not together, then. But he was starting to realize.
These little beats kept stacking one upon the other, until they were
face to face with little to say, both understanding the next move.
And they took it.
Her knowledge of the ins and outs (where the fuse box was without
searching, faucet tricks, faster routes and shortcuts,
hidden locations, man made or otherwise), unsettled. Momentarily.
Brief recollections of their first meeting would surface and twinge,
but that time was over and done.
They were both overcoming their pasts, rewriting themselves as they
settled into a time and a place they knew they couldn't rewrite.
Surrounded by Dharma-issue everything,
knickknacks that weren't theirs...at first, it felt like he was
subletting someone else's fully-furnished life.
And then she named the ceramic cat on their dresser after a stray
she had saved as a child.
Then they had their chairs claimed,
positions on the couch,
favored sides in bed.
His and hers.
On the day they moved in to the house that
they would call theirs (and theirs alone),
before she could protest, he picked her up,
cracked a joke (that said this is in jest) to hide
the part deep down that had already realized he
didn't want it to be
and walked across the threshold.
Home, now, was harder to define. It wasn't
yellow walls, and it wasn't her, because she was
It was the people around him, the ones who cared, and that
he would always care about. They were the only ones who
could ever understand.
It was in the way Clementine did look like him when she smiled.
She was growing up fast, and he had already missed so much.
It was second chances, being the
person she showed him he could be.
"No. You just lived here for awhile. This was never your house."
Those words had stung, and they had been lies.
For him, the word home, in its truest form, would always
conjure up just one place and point in time.
07. bright future | bowerbirds
couldn't you've stayed on the ground
couldn't you've stayed on your feet
but your mind was wound so tightly
always bold and wise and unsettling
i live in your tall trees
amongst your fearless leaves
saw the bright colors
*They had a shorthand, and he knew, better than anyone,
how to read her. Sometimes he'd catch her
staring out of the window, distant.
He didn't need to ask what she was thinking about.
These moments. He thought about them while he kept up his search,
kept up hope that they'd get back to their own time, even though he
was more than content with the life he had found there.
The four walls he called home contained everything he needed.
Everything about his life as he pictured it stretching out for years
would be better than fine.
He could even weather the Eighties again.
As long as he had her.
But he'd think about those moments when she seemed far away from him,
and he knew well that, in her heart, home would always be
two places at once.
And she had been away from one
for too long.
He has many regrets. The chaos of those last days and his (non)action during
them topped a long list.
He had watched as the world they knew caved in, and bit by bit
she grew unsteady, unsure.
He pinpoints all the moments where he could have said more.
It takes him a long time to figure out what, exactly, he
can impart to her sister, and an even longer time to convince himself
that he should.
He takes a certain comfort in her legacies.
An eight-year-old boy, shy and quiet, brightest in his class.
A sister, celebrating another birthday.
08. i just don't think i'll ever get over you | colin hay
i drink good coffee every morning
comes from a place that's far away
and when i'm done i feel like talking
without you here there is less to say
i'm no longer moved to drink strong whiskey
'cause i shook the hand of time and i knew
that if i lived 'til i could no longer climb my stairs
i just don't think i'll ever get over you
your face it dances and it haunts me
your laughter's still ringing in my ears
*The hammock, and falling out of it for the first time
(they're much more accommodating to one body).
He had heard it before.
That steady, low-register laugh, let loose
while they lay in an unhurt but bruised heap on the grass.
But it was then that the thought hammered itself home, and he
spoke it aloud, only taking a second to swallow, to let it settle,
to turn and look her in the eye.
"I love you."
He didn't wait for a reply, just paused for a moment then stood, and
held out his hand.
She took it.
Eventually, they managed to maneuver, balance, comfortably tangle.
Her lips close to his ear, she whispered the words back.
He remembers his response to Horace's query, and
most of it was true.
"It's only been three years, Jim. Just three years that he's been gone.
Is that really long enough to get over someone?"
It's been three more years since that day,
and James has revised his answer.
09. starving robins | horse feathers
met with the mightiest change in the breeze
and with that wind in mind there's the truth
beyond by the creek lies the memory of youth
where's the spring?
like a light is to dark there's an end to this thing
and with that end in mind there's the truth
beyond by the creek lies the ghost of my youth
[The sliver of light under the door as he peered out
from under the bed,
slow, heavy footfalls on wood,
the creak of box springs.]
When the second shot rang out, he would wake without fail.
That nightmare disintegrated along with
a name that wasn't his.
Taking its place was
her hand slipping,
her fingers loosening,
releasing on purpose.
Once, early on, he awoke to a little girl's scream down his hallway.
It was one of her first weekends with him, and it took a moment
to snap to his senses, run to her door.
She claimed to have seen a shadow. But it was nothing, daddy, and she didn't
believe in monsters in the closet anymore.
After a while, he found himself waking up less and less
in a cold sweat in the middle of the night.
But he didn't need someone to convince him that monsters weren't real.
He already knew too well that they were.
He had just learned to live with them. He knew, in the end
(when he ran through a mental catalog of good memories, and of
all the things he had in his life now)
that everything was going to be
10. life is life | noah and the whale
well you used to be somebody
and now you're someone else
took apart his old life
left it on the shelf
sick of being someone he did not admire
took apart his old things
set them all on fire
he's gonna change, gonna change his ways
gonna change, gonna change his ways
and it feels like his new life can start
and it feels like heaven
The conman. The criminal. Two bullets sent him on a
path he was always meant to walk.
He took the new pen, finished his letter.
Two women had loved him with that name on their
tongues. And he had loved them in return. It was in doing so
that he began, slowly, to change his stripes.
He had chosen it for himself. It was a con, and it wasn't.
Survival mattered most, and it was the first word
that had sprang to mind. He'd always been good at
Becoming Sawyer meant moving backwards, shutting down and closing off.
Becoming LaFleur had been an opening up, a shedding of skin.
And all the time she had been there, loving him without
pretense, as if all the things that came before didn't, and
never would, matter.
It's hard to see past the thought ingrained in him that,
had they separated those six years ago,
she might still be alive,
maybe even off that godforsaken Island.
He imagines himself dead and buried, pictures her reuniting
with her family.
And it isn't fair.
He considers what his own life might have turned out like,
had she left on that first sub out.
Imagines wiping out those three years,
that damn plan working,
all of their time together
in a spark and a flash.
He dismisses the notion.
"I'm glad you talked me out of it."
It's not worth thinking about.
.zip on mediafire | megaupload
She squeezes his hand.
"What did you say? Dad? Daddy?"
"...the machine ate my dollar. I only got one left."