His right hand strums out a complicated rhythm while his left dances up and down the neck, forming complex shapes. A low hum rumbles up from his throat, a counter-melody to the throbbing voice of the guitar. Eyes closed, he sits cross-legged on the moist grass, rocking back and forth, trying to give birth to the melody rolling through him.
The instrument screams in dismay. Sorely taxed by the man, it fights the strain of the contorted chording. The pick in his hand ravages the wooden body, making it shake, bend, and fall out of tune.
When the two first met, the man had been a young boy. His lap had been much smaller, and the stroke of his fingers had been soft and clumsy. In those days the guitar had been placed carefully on a stand when not in use, frequently re-stringed, polished and buffed daily. The boy had loved the instrument, had treated it gently, with care and respect.
These days the man usually tosses it into the corner on a pile of dirty clothes, where it gets ignored for months as the soiled garments pile up on top. Its body is scratched and dented, and covered in greasy smudges that could easily be buffed out but never are.The only attention it gets is rough, passionate, angry, occasionally beautiful but too often abusive.
His pinky pulls sharply from a seventh, and then all four fingers dance down to a new position where the strum continues the strained melody. A smile touches the corner of his mouth as the hum rises up his throat, past his tongue, his teeth, his lips, and bursts forth into the air as a sweetly toned lyric. Vocal chord and guitar chord work as one, outlining an audio shape that twists, flows, and yet still fails to fully capture his idea.
And then a sudden discordance. PING!
There is a sharp pain in his wrist, and the high tones disappear. The slim silver string shakes and dangles, snapped up near the guitar head. A tiny drop of blood beads above his hand, and rolls slowly down towards his fingers.
Silence holds for a moment. Slowly, painfully, he rises to his feet, gritting his teeth against the sharp tingling in his numb legs. He grabs his keys from the grass and sets off across the field. The late afternoon sun covers the park in dappled green, filtered through the old, towering oaks. The path is laid out in concrete, tracing a wandering line around the small, grassy knolls and out toward the street.
At the intersection where the park path runs into the sidewalk sits a graffiti-covered dumpster, so filled with trash that the lid can’t close properly. He stops to slip the guitar in on top of the pile.
He takes a moment to close the lid properly, jumping up and violently slamming it shut. The guitar is crushed down into the rest of the garbage and hidden from sight.
As the man walks away the lid lifts again slightly. A ray of sunlight peeks in, gleaming on the guitar’s cracked face. Another string snaps with a soft ping.
Discarded, fiction by Chaz Anderson
© Copyright Chaz Anderson
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“Discarded” by Chaz Anderson is a riveting story about the frustration of artistic expression.