He loved the look of aged oak, yet this place seemed to be overflowing with it, robbing it of the warm mysteriousness in each curve and leaving it feeling oddly cold. He could never remember this place without such an emptiness. The unwelcome feeling came and went as he continued to strum each string. The vintage Washburn acoustic was his father’s. It accompanied the family on camping trips and holidays. He always wanted to touch the tightly taught strings, the smooth shapely wood. Delicate five year old fingers reaching and meeting a stinging slap from that large calloused hand, coating his deep green eyes with saline pain. When Micah discovered that his father left the piece to him upon his passing, he collected it, placed it in the corner of his bedroom and didn’t touch it for years. Glancing at it each day as he grew into a man, a husband and a father. Following the intricate steps to a perfect life, eventually earning him the right to play. And when he finally did, his thin, pale fingers trembled. He played until this tips were bloody and raw. Waiting his entire life for this moment and the emotions he yearned to unleash from within this hollow cage, but he felt nothing above the wrists. He played and played, searching for the lump in his throat, a single tear finally able to fall, an effortless smile, but nothing.
He continued, day after day, shuffling along in once noble footsteps. Although Micah knew nothing of the songs that he played, he could see through his thick strawberry blonde bangs that those surrounding him, including his young son, were captivated, making him more frustrated and angry. Couldn’t they see that he felt nothing? He was a false idol to his own child, his blood. Vibrating strings and vocal chords filled onlookers with swelling emotion while sending a numbness through him like Novocain. But he carried on, every night standing in front of an old full length mirror. Him and the romantic curves of his father’s legacy. Micah and a guitar.
He awoke one Sunday morning, preparing to play at church service, just like many Sundays passed. Tuning and tinkering, his skin grew red hot with aggravation with a single string that refused to sing in key. An hour past, his pulse raced, his teeth clenched until finally the collective choir sang in perfect harmony. Into the beaten, dented case slipped the guitar. It was an unseasonably warm summer day as he walked, clutching the case, to the small chapel down the road. A balmy breeze whipped leaves playfully around his ankles and the sun danced with tree limbs flickering a beauty over his face. Micah took a deep breath and smiled. He entered the church, scrolling craved oak from ceiling to floor. The wood seemed warm today. Mysterious and whimsical, like he was seeing it for the first time. And he played. Each pluck of a string struck a jolt though every muscle. Every note entered him, rushing emotion through his veins. And he played. Smiling, feeling. He knew the song this piece was singing, and he sang along, effortlessly. The moment he tasted for so long had fallen upon him like a miracle. He forced his closed eyes open to watch his fingers creating such passion, covered in drying blood. Strands of hair left from the struggle remained twisted and shimmered in the light through stained glass. Remembering the feeling of life going limp within his hands, Micah strummed harder and smiled.