Dad’s Guitar

St. Louis, Missouri — Clara Matthews pulled her blonde hair up into a ponytail, chocolate brown eyes focused on the piles of books in front of her.

A sticky note lay on top of each, dictating which ones were being given away, which ones her mom was keeping, and which ones she and her siblings had decided to take.

The give away pile was larger.

Slowly, she began packing them into their respective boxes, willing herself not to cry. Mom needs you, she told herself.

Of course, that didn’t help much, seeing as how her parents’ house was getting empti- mother’s. It was just her mom’s house now, even if it was only for a little while longer.

Clara paused and looked around the living room, which was rapidly filling with boxes and bins full of things to give away. The corner by the east window was reserved for the things her mom was keeping-certain photos, some of her favorite books, a few old movies from her grandparents’ generation…Dad’s guitar.

She walked over and after a moment’s hesitation, pulled it towards her, the memories flooding her mind.


“Here, this is where your fingers should be,” Dad said, helping nine-year-old Clara readjust her hold. “Okay…now play a note, and see how it sounds.”


Dad motioned for them to be quiet and they covered their mouths to hide their giggles. He snuck up behind Mom and then began playing their song, pleasantly surprising her. 


When he started singing in goofy-sounding voices, the twins burst into laughter. 


As the kids continued to shout out which hymn they wanted to sing, Dad held up his hands. “Okay, okay, settle down,” he said. “We only have time for one, because it’s almost bedtime for you younger three kids, so-“


“Clara?”

She looked up to see her mom come into the room. Elizabeth’s gray hair was piled into a messy bun and the circles under her eyes proof of sleepless nights.

“I was just…remembering,” Clara said, putting the guitar back. A sting started to build up behind her eyes. She blinked and rubbed at them. “I’m sorry, Mom, I’m trying so hard not to cry, but I-”

“Wait, slow down,” Elizabeth said, looking a bit confused. “Why are you trying to not cry?”

“Well…because when I do, I-I hyperventilate and then there’s my asthma, and you need us…to be….there…for you.” Clara’s chin trembled and she wiped at her eyes.

Elizabeth held her arms out and, unable to hold it in any longer, Clara embraced her mother and sobbed.

“It’s okay,” Elizabeth said, stroking her daughter’s hair. “It’s okay to let it out.”


©H.S. Kylian 2018

(Critiques are welcome and appreciated!)

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