So, I was going to post about my thoughts on comics, sequential art, and graphic novels. Opinions? I have lots on that topic. I am completely unqualified to have them, but they don’t care, they are in my brain anyway.
But I didn’t have the time to make them coherent. I’ll get it to together for the next one.
In the meantime, if anyone would like, here is a story I wrote for one of last year’s Flash Fiction prompts. The image of a guitar was to be the inspiration of a short tale, and this is what I came up with. I hope you like it.
“My guitar is not a thing. It is an extension of myself. It is who I am.” – Joan Jett –
The first one to hold me was the one whose hands were always so cold. My body would cringe before he picked me up, dreading that icy touch and my arm would shiver straight away. But he had also been the ambitious one, who used me so much and made me work so hard until one day, his awkward efforts became coordinated and seductive. But though many applauded his motions, the music in his hands was barren, like a loveless heart. Those were desperate times for many people however, and before Arthur had even had the chance to perhaps taste what love truly was, he was captured by the public to convince them their lives had meaning.
His mother, the source of his empty soul (at least, I think she was the cause of it) tossed me to the side of the road with everything else she had used and rejected, to wait for the end to arrive in the form of a disgustingly dirty garbage truck. Her son’s first guitar, the instrument who had been Arthur’s introduction to freedom, meant nothing more to her than the loss of control of someone’s life.
The second to hold me was a young man with a quick smile, a warm heart and a short attention. It did not take long before my strings were abandoned in favor of containers of ale. Placed against the bedroom wall one afternoon in the four o’clock sun as the downstairs phone rang with news concerning dates to the upcoming Spring Dance, my long 6-stringed arm cast a shadow in that same spot for nearly a year. Then one day, the youngest little sister wandered in, hoping to find new material for Barbie’s latest mansion.
I then became a roof for nearly a month. And then a perch for Fluffy the Hairy Cat. I watched Barbie’s wardrobe changes, tea parties involving many bears, and very nearly became an above-ground pool for the last of those parties. That was when Mother said “I think Barbie needs to downsize dear” and took me downstairs to the living room where I spent many an evening listening to Mother and Father conversing in kind earnest over their brood’s futures, the crookedness of the government and the dread of Aunt Bea’s forthcoming visit.
Then came the day when the boy with the quick smile left to conquer the world with his warm heart. Part of my heart went with him, for though he had abandoned me, he rarely failed to brush the tip of my arm when ever he would see me. And he became a fan of that young upstart Jimi Hendrix; at least the boy had taste.
One evening when Mother and Father had visitors, one of them noticed me in the corner and asked to hold me. Permission granted he picked me up, absently caressing my strings before I was even in his lap. Never before had I felt quite like I did then – his hands were warm and sure, in contrast to Arthur’s – and though Colin’s playing was not as expert, he had infinitely more heart. We were good together and he could feel it. Mother and Father did too and immediately gifted me to him. While I was sad to leave this kind family (and wished Barbie luck in her search for the perfect pool) it was with Colin I wished to be, his music I wanted to sing.
And together we stayed, for many seasons. Despite an embarrassing number of girlfriends, two dogs and an annoying bird I would gladly have sacrificed one of my strings to strangle, he never put me down for more than a day. We played for many, many crowds and made them dance and cry for more.
We finally played lullabies for the twin additions to our family – he finally picked a sweet girl named Annette to accompany him in his journey. She had a voice to make a good person evil, so pure it was, but to Colin it was his reason for living.
We played even more now that our family had grown, gently indoctrinating them as they grew so that for them, music was as easy and necessary as air. Lily was the first to pick me up, and could immediately identify notes and pick out simple tunes. Liam did not manage so well with me… he had such turbulence in him – a storm that could either evaporate harmlessly or become murderous.
One day Annette put out some pots on the floor to see what he would do. Colin gazed in joy as his very young tornado beat the aluminum out of those pots and within two days a set of drums was found and set up. The house was never quiet again.
And so it was, for many years we all played and learned and grew together. Colin shared me with Lily – she became masterful at playing me and they both expanded their guitar collection. I was almost jealous when one day on a visit; she came with a guitar that had not one… but two arms! I’d never seen such a thing.
But I was the one both of them returned to when they played those particular tunes they loved.
Annette was the first to go, her voice mysteriously failing until the doctors finally said the cancer would take her very quickly. Colin was silent for many months after she had gone. Lily and Liam worried terribly over him. Each in their turn brought him into their own growing families, hoping the grandchildren would bring the music back.
In time, they did. Colin eventually played me again, never with the same intensity as before, but with a new feeling – necessity. I think, with my strings, he might have given up. Lily would visit often and still played me too. Her hands were always as pure as her mother’s voice had been and it was wonderful. Annette would have been proud.
The day after Colin died, Lily played me at one of those big shows he had often told me about. My heart was broken but so was hers and together, for a moment, we made each other happy.
The years that followed were a mix of changing hands and homes. Surprisingly, it was one of Liam’s kids who would eventually try to play me, until bank management took her away. It wasn’t until a long time after Lily and Liam’s grandchildren had given me away (and I’d done a short stint as another pool – this time an ‘acid’ pool for something called a Transformer) that someone picked finally me up again with that familiar feel of passion.
And I tried, I really did. His hands were right, but David’s heart was broken by life and he searched for more acceptance and forgiveness than I – or anyone else – knew how to give. Unable to defeat his demons and hear the music we made together, he surrendered. That night he held me until the pills did their job, telling me over and over how sorry he was.
Why had I been made, then if all I could do was watch everyone around me die, again and again?
My strings could give no more after that. No matter who tuned me, a true note would not come. Donated to the local school music class, I sank into as much of an oblivion as a guitar can sink into and wished to have it end. It nearly did, when a group of youngsters snuck me out one night planning to camp out and party but the group just became quite drunk and nearly tossed me in the fire. Oh well.
My story should have ended then and there but it didn’t. You, patient reader, should have gone by now but you haven’t. You see, the threads of life contain more than we see, something Arthur’s mother had detested – that unpredictable wildcard.
He picked me up that morning, his first day in ninth grade and placed me on his knees. Maurice spoke very little, used to being bullied because of his deformity, but his heart was strong. The teacher let him alone to figure out his way and it wasn’t long before he’d discovered the best way to hold me with his one three-fingered arm and other stump. Those few fingers played me true, as no one had in many, many years and from that moment on, I was his.
I understand now. A being of flesh cannot see the never-ending loss that comes from an extended life like mine nor understand the pure joy that can be exchanged, once and once again.
One day I really will join the fire and burn out of existence, become sparks in the night sky.
And that is okay, because now I understand it.