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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Other · #1887915
Phoenix plays his guitar for the first time in a week and finds that it calms him...
The tension was mounting within Phoenix's chest.  He could feel his blood pressure rising and a headache coming on.  He had tried everything.  Nothing seemed to work.  Even his spouse was irritating to him.  Phoenix decided to take a break from the city and go get his oil changed in a neighboring town.  He took his molecular neuropharmacology book and his notebook with him in case the wait was long.  It was.  An hour and a half later, Phoenix picked up his keys from the lube desk, paid the mechanic with his credit card, and put his books in the passenger seat of his truck.  Phoenix decided to use the restroom before he left, which was good because the drive back to the city was tedious and full of near-wrecks.  People did not drive well in 100-degree heat, Phoenix decided.  It had to be the heat, otherwise it was just outright stupidity.  Could there be that many stupid people?  There was Phoenix's impatience again.  He rarely had thoughts like that unless he was under a lot of pressure and felt that he had no other way to express it than anger at the world and everyone in it.

Phoenix took the route into the city that led straight to the art store.  There, he picked up some acrylic matte gel medium so that he could complete the card that he wanted to collage together for his doctor.  Phoenix was not yet sure if he was actually going to give it to his doctor, but he wanted to complete his art project regardless.  He picked up some calligraphy materials as well, and took a direct route to the checkout counter.  There was only one checker.  Phoenix was almost there when a woman with a basket full to the brim with yarn and other miscellaneous junk stepped in front of him.  Junk, Phoenix thought.  To this woman, it was not junk.  It should not be junk to him either, he thought.  Phoenix was well aware at this point that he was angry and without relief.  When he got this way, he had to stay relatively isolated as not to blunder into an argument that he would later regret.

The trigger for this anger was the artwork that he ran across at his parents' house over the weekend.  It was the artwork Phoenix had done in Germany after he had returned from combat in the Desert.  It told a story - a disturbing one - and one that angered Phoenix right down to where his soul used to be.  He had been trying to calm himself from the encounter for four days now, non-stop, without any success.  Phoenix knew what the trigger was, at least.  That meant that he had at least gotten better at identifying what set his PTSD off.  What the hell to do about it, though, was another matter entirely.

Phoenix made a quick stop at the post office.  His usual parking spaces were all taken up by a lawn service truck and trailer parked haphazardly in the parking lot with no regard for any laws or anyone else.  Phoenix was furious.  After parking in a space that he would surely never choose of his own free will, Phoenix walked across the street to the post office and retrieved the mail from his box.  Only one letter for him.  The rest were advertisements for his spouse.  Phoenix went home.

The next thing that Phoenix did was finish the collaged card that he had needed the matte gel medium for.  That did not work as smoothly as Phoenix would have liked, but then it was one of those days.  Nothing would work quite right on a day like today, even if it went perfectly.  Phoenix's spouse came and picked him up after finishing work so that they could get some lunch.  Phoenix was in a foul mood and his spouse knew it.  Phoenix tried to be civil, but it was incredibly difficult.  His spouse was always in such a good mood and Phoenix could hardly stand it sometimes, especially when he was struggling with his PTSD like he was.  After they arrived back home, Phoenix stared at his art desk.  He had the thought that his spouse hated his art, which was untrue, but Phoenix was not exactly thinking rationally at this point.  He was really in trouble mentally.  He yelled at his spouse.  That was the first time in seven years of marriage that he had done such a thing, and he immediately regretted it, but did not know how to reconcile it, so he said nothing and went to his office to work on more of a literature review for his master's thesis.  An hour later, he came out into the living room and cleared off the workout bench so that his spouse could exercise later.  Yesterday was exercise day, but his spouse said nothing because Phoenix had been working so intently on his art and had the bench covered.  Phoenix felt bad about that, too, but again, what was there to do about it?

Phoenix decided on a whim to do the one thing he had not tried to calm himself down and bring a bit of happiness in to battle the anger.  He unzipped his guitar case and took out his guitar.  It smelled of cedar and Phoenix loved that.  His battery light for the automatic tuner was lit up, so he tuned his strings and then went to find another 9V battery.  Luckily, they had one in the back room.  Phoenix replaced the battery, tightened up the port for his amp cable, plugged in the amp cable, turned the amp on, turned his guitar volume knob up, and strummed across the strings.  Even though he had not played in over a week, his fingers knew where to go and he was learning the notes that went with the tablature.  The tablature was invaluable to Phoenix.  He could read music, but it was much faster and he associated the music with the finger positions much better using both the notation and the tablature.  He played several songs and felt better about what was going on in his life almost immediately.  That guitar held some part of him that he could not express any other way, and it had needed expression for several days.  How could he have missed it?  The guitar was the key the whole time.  The art was also necessary, but his creativity was in writing, art, and music.  He had neglected the music aspect for over a week and suffered terribly for it.  His spouse had, too, unfortunately.  Phoenix felt next that he should exercise.  He was afraid, however, to go out in his neighborhood at this time of night.  What about the treadmill?  What about the weights?  Phoenix needed to play his guitar some more first, though.  He could feel it.  More of the guitar would calm his PTSD down to a dull roar and enable him to focus on something he enjoyed and that brought him happiness instead of anger.  The anger had had its fun with him for way too long and cost him too much in the last few days.  Phoenix picked up his guitar and continued to play...
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