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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Other · #1853107
Phoenix's friend asks him to help her learn to read music and to choose a song to play...
Phoenix was excited about his guitar.  This, of course, was the topic of conversation with his friend for the fifth day in a row.  She never seemed to tire of his endless commentary on it, but she did make a request of him at the coffee shop.  "Maybe you can teach me to read music."  Sure!  Phoenix was glad she had asked because he had always thought she would enjoy music.  She underestimated her creativity and said that it would serve no purpose for her to learn to play an instrument.  Phoenix staunchly disagreed with this viewpoint, and told her that music always served a purpose.  "Well, my family does have a piano.  And it has a headphone jack so nobody could hear me but me."  Ah, that was the problem.  She was embarrassed.  His friend revealed that she had been humiliated as a child by a music instructor and had never given music another thought since that time.  Phoenix knew he could make this new experience with it a good one.  "Well, I need a song to play."  Phoenix suggested a few, but none were to her liking.  He suggested a modern song of her choosing, which she agreed with.  She spent some time on her smartphone attempting to identify the song whose introductory measures composed her ringtone.  It ended up being "Clocks" by Cold Play.  Phoenix told her that he would find the sheet music online and get it for her so that he could help her learn it.  His friend was pleased with this arrangement.  They enjoyed each others' company for a while longer until the coffee shop closed and then parted ways for the evening.

The next morning, Phoenix got on the internet and searched for the sheet music for "Clocks".  There were several versions.  One was for vocal, guitar, and piano.  Another was for a string quartet.  On and on the arrangements went.  Phoenix first looked at the full version written for vocal, guitar, and piano.  Its key signature was complicated, as was the six-page arrangement - too complicated for his friend to learn just starting out.  He ordered that version for later on after she had gotten a good start on the piano.  Phoenix searched some more and found a two-page version that was perfect for his friend and him both.  It had a simple key signature and was written in a simple, yet complete-sounding way.  He ordered this arrangement as well.  Both were digitally available, and Phoenix was able to print both arrangements off on his home printer once he had paid for them on the site.  He took the simple version out to his music stand and got out his guitar.  It was then that he realized how inflexible and short his fingers really were.  He knew they were short and stubby, but he had not realized that they would just not reach some distances, no matter how hard he tried.  That was okay.  Phoenix would do finger stretches.  He would make this work.  He enthusiastically texted his friend that he had gotten the music and she texted back that she was excited.  Phoenix practiced the music as best he could for a while, then decided he was tired.  A nap sounded perfect.

Phoenix met with his case manager that afternoon at a Greek restaurant and told her all about his new guitar.  She seemed happy for him and thought it was a positive step.  After the meeting, Phoenix returned home.  It had been snowing and he was thinking it was beautiful, but not as beautiful as his guitar.  Obsession may be the correct word to describe Phoenix's relationship with his guitar at this point, but he was enjoying it immensely, which was a big step for Phoenix.  He had not enjoyed something so thoroughly in a very long time.  The Depression and the PTSD had taken a heavy toll on him over the years.  In addition, he actually believed he could do this, which was another miracle of sorts.

Phoenix returned home and watched a movie with his spouse.  After the movie, he showered in preparation for his ECT the next morning.  Watching the water run down his body, Phoenix thought about the next day.  Would he remember how to play all he had learned to play on his guitar after the ECT?  Well, if he did not, he would certainly learn it again.  The strange numbness in the fingers of his left hand should remind him of something.  Phoenix was looking forward to his ECT treatment.  It always made him feel so much better.  As he thought, he looked at the shower head.  The water running out of it was beautiful in its own way and Phoenix admired it for a few moments.  He was very aware of his surroundings, of this cleansing before his procedure.  As he toweled off, he remembered not to put any deodorant on or use any lotions, oils, or hair gels.  The clinicians wanted him clean for his treatment.  Phoenix got dressed and carefully took out his guitar to play.  He worked on "Clocks" some more.  Each fingering of each note was a challenge, and Phoenix struggled with reaching out with his left pinkie finger at times.  More finger stretches would solve this problem, and he knew he could overcome this.  Each measure of the introduction was a variation on the previous measure, so the transitions were important.  Phoenix was becoming better and better at both the introduction and the melody itself.  He used the classical fingering with his right hand.  Somehow it was easier to keep track of the strings and the notes that way.  Soon, Phoenix put his guitar back in its bag and cleaned up the corner so that his spouse did not have to get after him about it.  This "Clocks" piece would be fun to play with his friend.  A duet was in the making.
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