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Sing us a song of the century

Dysphoria: A tap drips, a leak in the kitchen sink that has persisted for years breaking the silence of the house. Two men sit at the dining room table, looking over photographs and sifting through memories. Their days of fame have long since passed, but they still have a hard time walking in public without being stopped. It has been a long time since their hometown was a place where no one knew them, knew their music. They have grown too old to perform, but the songs stay with them and shape a generation. Together, they face the future. Together, they face the world.

Wanderlust: A man stands on the mountain – over the buildings of the city he can see the ocean glittering. He has wandered the world, never finding what he was seeking. A tear rolls down his cheek as he realizes that home has always been here. He has finally found himself, coming back to where everything began. He spent so much time in his youth wanting to leave that he never thought about what he was running from. He will run no longer; he has finally found home.

Louder than bombs and eternity

Warfare: A boy lies in the ashes of a building that once stood on Broadway, gasping for air. He has a bullet wound in his stomach that spurts blood with each forced breath. He will not live to see the sun rise, but he has done all he can. His friends lie dying around him, crying out for ghosts of people who cannot help them. Bombs whistle through the air in the distance, leveling the city he has been fighting for. He closes his eyes, grits his teeth. This war is no longer his to fight.

Era of static and contraband

Discord: Two men lie entangled on a bed, drowsy and content. The scars on the wrists of one of them are faded, nearly gone. They serve as his reminder that he survived. A high school yearbook lies face down on the bed, turned open to a picture of the two of them when they were on the swim team together. They have long since graduated from Clairemont High School. The memories they carry are bittersweet. They know now that life is so much more than school.

Leading us into the promise land

Rebellion: A gravestone stands solidly in a secluded corner of the cemetery. It is a sin to commit suicide, but there is a cross on the grave. A man comes, brings flowers and a small broom to brush dirt and debris away from the stone. Here Lies James William Harding, the stone reads. The man visiting knew him as Saint Jimmy. The man has grown too old for rebellion and protest, but he still believes in what Jimmy fought for. He has long since given up hope that Jimmy will come home, but he visits the grave every year in July. He avoids the underpass on 12th street.

Tell us a story that’s by candlelight

Disbelief: A man stands in the doorway to his daughter’s room, checking in on her before he goes to bed. She is smiling in her sleep. Quietly, the man walks into the room and kisses her forehead before retreating to his own room. She has grown up so fast. The man stopped going to concerts years ago, but he still has many ticket stubs saved in his bedside table. He pulls them out, carding through the papers. He stops at one, a faded ticket that reads ‘Warped Tour.’ Smiling, he shows his wife, who smiles back and squeezes his hand. The bruises have faded. The memories of his first family are still there, but they are distant and hazy. He feels safe. He feels loved. He feels wanted. He is no longer scared.

Dysfunction: A house stands empty, the owners long dead and the heir nowhere to be found. He is long gone, miles away from his hometown. The memories of his childhood haunt him, pushing him down the road. He never finds peace; he is doomed to wander. He is lonely and sad, and he sleeps with a gun. Often he drifts off at night with the cool barrel pressed to his temple. He does not want to live anymore, but he cannot pull the trigger. He is still a stitch away from making it and a scar away from falling apart. He has never known love. He thinks he never will.

Waging a war and losing the fight

Apocalypse: A car rusts, abandoned on the side of the road. It is scarred by laser fire and its tires are flat. A few yards away a body lies face down in the dirt; it is a man, his roller skates still on his feet and his helmet on. Down the Miracle Mile, a small radio station is in flames. Four men – boys, really, forced to grow up too fast – are on their way to Battery City. They are the last of the Killjoys. They will not survive the night.

Sing a song of the century

Homecoming: A fence swings in the breeze, unhinged and left ajar. A father passes his guitar down to his son, smiling gently at the excited boy. The pictures of the man’s mother, long since departed, still hang on the walls. The boy’s mother watches the scene from the doorway, gaze landing on her husband and lingering. She is glad he has decided to retire from his music. The boy strums the guitar eagerly, grinning at his father. The man is sick, but happy. The man will die in the house on Second and Sebring. The man will find peace.

Panic and promise and prosperity

Uncertainty: A man kneels in a church, head bowed in prayer. As he stands his knees crack and pop. He has accepted his faith; he truly believes. The doubt in his youth has left him and he takes solace in his religion. It has never failed him. A woman waits for him at the door, holding out her hand. Together they walk home, through the city streets that are so quickly changing. Technology has advanced, but the church has never changed. The man finds comfort in this fact of life. He has stopped putting his faith in wealth and possessions, and stored it in his family and God. He sleeps better at night. He does not run anymore in his dreams.

Tell us a story into that good night

Paradise: Two guitars sit in their stands; they have not been played in years. A man walks out into the living room of his house, staring at the instruments and smiling. He is soon joined by another man, who wraps his arms around him from behind. Their albums line the shelves, memories on each CD of a different time in their lives. They made it, just like they said they would. They left town, played their songs, and came back alive. They settled down and had a good life together. They no longer bank on second chances. The wildness of youth has left them and they are steady, stable, happy. They no longer need the music to feel alive.

Sing us a song for me

Heartache: A slow, bittersweet song comes on the radio. A man listens, smiling because he recognizes it. It is his song. He no longer wonders if she has heard it; he no longer cares. Every once in a while his heart will grow heavy from the lifetime of heartbreaks it has endured – but it has endured. His children surround him, bringing him the joy that he thought was gone. Winters are hard still; he cannot stand the cold. He longs for the summer months when the sky is clear and he can feel the sun on his skin. He does not like the beach, but he will go for his children. With them, he is never lonely.