Discordant

A short story about what happens when you prefer the company of inanimate objects.

She often found him out here, in the middle of the field, with the old guitar. He sang to it, crooned to it, told it his deepest secrets, clinging to it as if it was his last friend. She’d sit next to him and just listen to him play for hours, neither of them speaking much to each other, the guitar doing most of the talking.

“So why the guitar?” she sometimes asked him.

“What do you mean?” he replied, still picking the strings of the worn acoustic.

“Well, of all the instruments there are in the world, pianos, violins, drums, et cetera, why’d you pick the acoustic?”

“Too sweet, too sweet, the shadows,” the guitar hummed.

He looked around, taking in the scenery as if for the first time. “It has memories. It’s not that I chose it. It just seemed right.”

She would sigh, the guitar (Felix, he called it) would chuckle, and he would reply to it.

On rare occasion, he set Felix aside, ignoring its complaints, and he and she would simply talk to each other. It didn’t matter what the topic was, but they inevitably got into arguments, and she would get up and walk off. He would follow her for a minute and try to convince her to come back, but she wouldn’t. He then gave up, defeated, returning to his stool, and proceeded to converse with Felix once again. There were things she reminded him of…

 

Around there, night fell with surprising suddenness and animosity. He was still there, singing with the crickets and to the fireflies, harmonizing with Felix. He paused to build himself a small fire to keep away wild animals, then continued to play.

“Too sweet, too sweet, the sunrise,” Felix harmonized.

Eventually, his voice would run out. Then he would simply sit and remember.

He remembered the sunshine. The family. The laughter. The talk of him and her, the things they shared, shared with their son. Without realizing it, his fingers resumed a light and gentle song.

“Too short, too short, the summer.”

 But the conversation turned to yelling, the talk to tears, and one or the other would storm out. He stared into the fire as his fingers plucked faster and deeper, not leaving time for Felix to hum out.

His father’s guitar. His grandfather’s guitar. They both had problems, both had whispered their secrets to the instrument, and both had passed it down in an effort to solve everything.

Everything, everything… everything had gone wrong. The drinking had started. It led to anger, to shouting, to tears and storming, and watching. Watching and hiding. Finally, the leaving.

That’s why he was out here again, whispering his secrets to the guitar like his father, like his father’s father, repeating history. His fingers stopped abruptly.

“Hello, hello, my shadows, my friend,” Felix whispered back to him.

What was this solving? It became painfully obvious that the guitar could not fix everything, even if it had always been there. It was comforting in its familiarity, and yet- there it was.

Instead of reasoning, there was rage. Instead of relationships and a willingness to work out problems, there was…

He looked at the guitar, the last string still reverberating.

There are some things that should never be spoken aloud, he decided. Some things better left unsaid, even if no one is around. Even if it’s to a seemingly inanimate object.

He looked at the fire again. It seemed to beckon to him, the orange and blue flames jumping higher in anticipation.

 

When she returned to the field the next day, he was gone. Felix was gone, as well. Only the stool and a pile of ashes remained.

She looked at the seat and saw a note, held down by a shiny new guitar pick.

You don’t deserve this,the note sighed.

Closer inspection of the ashes revealed a few guitar strings and a charred piece of Felix’s neck.

She felt like crying as she pocketed the pick. She probably would have, if he were still here. There were things she had wanted to say to him…

A breeze carried the note away.

The End

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