I guess you could say she was always there. On some level you can always feel them. Right outside the edge of your periphery. Perhaps a shadow that didn’t really belong, or a reflection that catches you just out of place. It always fades away when you look directly at them though. That trace of them always one step ahead. “Did I blink wrong? Was something in my eye?” Your brain questions if whatever you thought was there was even there in the first place. So, perhaps she was always there, maybe. Maybe she was never there and I’ve just lost my mind.
I had about 30 minutes before my next class and I took my guitar out and sat on the edge of a concrete fountain just outside. I put a smoke in my mouth and lit it before placing my hand on the frets and gently brushing my fingertips over the strings. I set the instrument on my thigh and started strumming some beautiful, classic, rock. The Eagles were probably my fathers favorite. He’d always turn up the radio when they came on, and in my mind I could see him smiling at me while I rendered “One of These Nights” on my Les Paul. My dad loved the Eagles, but my mom loved music. It was her passion for it that saw me enrolled in lessons when I was young. She said music was one of the last magics left in the world. An art that could motivate, calm, rouse, and heal. She was a talented woman. I learned piano first, then a few woodwind, brass, and string instruments. Guitar seemed to just suit me though, and shortly after picking one up my mom knew I’d found my favorite.
That was back when I was 10. Before she passed on my mom found a vintage electric and saw to its restoration before she had it locked away. At 21, away at college, a package arrived for me and I opened the case to reveal the restored Les Paul. I didn’t know how much it was worth. Struggling to make ends meet and on a strict diet of Top Ramen, I didn’t want to be tempted to sell it. My father was all over the country driving freight. He paid my tuition and board but couldn’t afford much else. I had taken up giving lessons for a bit of spending money I tried to stretch as far as I could. If I could just keep things together for another 3 months, I’d have a bachelors degree to show for my struggles.
Some parents might worry about their kid majoring in music, but if my dad ever had a problem he never said anything. He told me my mom would be proud. I smiled a bit riffing into Hotel California. The ash on my cigarette growing a little longer as I took a drag. The smoke wafted up and away, seeming to dance with my music. The guitar parts in that song are simply legendary. “You’re really good.” Her voice seemed to come from the right, I looked up and over. She was sitting right next to me. She had really pale blue eyes. Almost too pale, like frost on your windshield in the morning. Or perhaps that white blue hue you get on a cold winter day. I got lost in those eyes for a moment before realizing this girl had gotten so close without me noticing. Which was weird because the way the sun was shining I should have at least seen a shadow, overcast day or not. “I’m sorry.” She apologized. “Wha?” I asked. “I didn’t mean to make you stop playing. You’re quite good.” She said. I couldn’t help but blush some. I gave her my best smile and took my smoke out of my mouth. “Oh, its ok. And thanks.” I spoke in fragmented sentences while I got out of her eyes and took the rest of her in.