Tuning the Guitar

Music enters my dream. It is distant, indistinct. Then, I am awake. I can still hear it. A guitar, one note over and over but changing. It is the middle of the night. I keep my eyes closed, trying to hold on to that flimsy layer of sleep out of which I have slipped. Strings being strummed, the air quivering with their music, the notes drawn out and adjusted.

It comes from the room directly below me. My son is home. My twenty-four-year-old son, who had gone out with friends earlier, is now tuning his guitar. I think he is trying to be as quiet as possible, as the volume shivers, and he waits for the sound to stop before picking a string and plucking a touch more gently. Soon, as I begin to doze off again, I realize that he is playing a melody that sounds hesitant, new. It trips and stumbles and circles back, then advances in another direction. He must be writing a new song.

I listen, thinking of how busy the day had been. Waking early to squeeze in some writing, trying to finish a story I began weeks ago. A few chores before heading out to work. On my way home, after hours spent doing the bidding of my boss, I stopped at the grocery store, then threw laundry into the washer before cooking dinner. My husband and two sons came in from their jobs and classes, and we sat and ate and talked and laughed. My husband cleaned up the kitchen so I could escape to our bedroom where my story was waiting on my desk. At eleven he came into the room, apologetically, trying not to disturb me, as I searched for words that quickly vanished; fatigue was taking their place.

“Hi, honey,” I said. “It’s okay. I’m done. Let’s go to sleep.”

We crawled under the covers, our bodies rolling to meet in the middle of the bed, and whispered good night to each other.

And now, on this starless night, in this wild world, in our little home, I lie in my bed, smiling in the darkness. My eyes remain closed as I imagine my son’s hands, his fingers brushing against strings, chasing after that next perfect note. As the lullaby rocks me back to sleep, words that I had been searching for earlier while at my desk speak to me. I know they will melt into sleep, but I also know that somehow, eventually, I will find them again, and my story will be written.

“Cadd9 – Embertime ‘rooks'”by greenwise art is licensed under CC0 1.0

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