He Played Guitar

Published: Sep 12, 2020

He played guitar for himself. The sound was ugly and often off key. But it was for him, him alone, and he did not mind. Paul picked each string, checking them against the tuner. After many slight adjustments, he strummed a few chords: a major E, a minor A, a couple of Gs, and a D for good measure. It sounded fine to him. His sister and his mother insisted that he was tone deaf, but he wasn't sure they were correct. When he played, he didn't listen; that was not the point. He wanted to escape into the feeling of the music, into another world, where he was doing something for himself.

His fingertips burned slightly because he pressed as hard as he could. Later, he would rub and stretch his shoulders because they will have become strained and sore. But that meant he was alive. No one seemed to understand what it was like to give yourself over everyday to making other people happy, entertaining them. It sucked out your soul, and this was his attempt, a pathetic one, at regaining strength. Paul desperately wanted to repair his soul.

The amplifier hummed, and the strings rung through. He turned up videos of Jimi Hendrix, he played along with Stevie Ray Vaughn, the list went on. The only thing he really got right was their expressions, their stances, their projections. Could he suck their soul from a decades-old recording, the way a live audience sucked out his? It was worth a try, Paul told himself.