DARK EMBERS

The guitar is old, a soft sticker of a heart on the bottom half. He touches it before he plays the first
chord. I look at him over the fire, the melody an old friend. Mom comes out, a knitted sweater in
her hand. I put it on. It smells of her. Her perfume.
The guitar hits a wrong chord, and Dad laughs, his deep voice vibrating into the dark night. He
takes a drink of his beer before setting out on a new melody. I smile. He used to play that song
before I went to bed. On the second play through, he starts to sing. Mom joins in, and soon after we
all sing about the devil, naked women and and a god who helped create it all.
When the song is done, my sister joins us. She lights a joint we all share. The guitar is passed
around the fire. Everyone touching the heart before they play. The song changes with each person.
Dad plays Beatles, Mom plays Sebastian, my sister plays whatever she likes. That’s how it’s always
been.
I just listen. The buzz from the joint and the beers make me grin at the flames, following the sparks
into darkness.
Mom goes to bed. Soon after, my sister follows.
I sit on the ground, hugging my knees. Dad’s still playing, random tunes leaving the guitar.
Are you happy? He asks between the beginning chords of House of the rising sun.
I nod.
My voice a whisper when I answer yes.
That’s good, he says and plays a few chords from Yesterday.
The sun lightens the sky. The guitar lies on the ground, my fingers playing with the soft sticker of a
heart.
The fire has died down, only dark embers remains.

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