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Rated: E · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2145712
You never know what you'll find browsing in a pawn shop.


The door chimed as Eleanor dragged Katherine into the pawn shop.

"Come on. It'll be fun!"

A pawn shop: a place Katherine avoided. She smiled at her friend's enthusiasm and braced herself against the upsurge of memories. Gut wrenching memories of sitting in their old Buick outside a pawn shop, while her Mother hocked their meagre possessions to put food on the table. She never wanted to think about those early days after her Father had left them.

She shuddered and followed her friend in. The cluttered stored was filled with an eclectic collection of treasures, valued possessions sacrificed in a time of need.

Eleanor pulled her over to a shelf. "Look, Katherine, an old VHS player. I haven't seen one of them in years."

A number of models sat there along with a large collection of tapes. Eleanor busied herself looking through the titles. Katherine wasn't interested, though. She glanced around the store and drifted to the display of guitars. They drew her, suspended, calling to be cradled. She scanned them. Most were old and none held any real value.

She looked back across them and stopped, drawn to an old scuffed up acoustic, its body, two toned, fading from dark red to cream. The fret board was worn with use, black with a distinctive line of cream blending down the centre of it, neck to body.

Unbidden, a melody of notes played in her head, a simple ballad.

Hey little Katey, Is that your Name?

Why do you cry with so much pain?

A silly song but hers, one her Father sang to her when she was upset. She shook her head as memories stirred: his blue eyes sparkling, his voice lifting her spirits while he strummed on his old guitar.

She caressed its' body as she remembered how she would sit next to him as he played to Her Mother. His voice trembled, quietly plucking a love ballad, the gentle hum of the strings as he slid his fingers along them, changing chords. At those moments, her mother's eyes shone with adoration, a glimpse of what had once been a shared love.

Don't you know that we love you?

Don't you know that we care?

She sighed. That was so long ago. They were memories she hadn't thought of in years. She was about to move when she noticed a deep gouge at the base of its body.

'The hollow sound of its echoing body, the clang of the strings as it was thrown in anger.'

She hesitated, took it down and turned it over.

Her hands trembled as she leaned heavily against a counter staring at the back of it. 'KATEY' in large block childish writing was scratched into its glossy finish: her name, her father's pet name for her.

He had shouted and then relented when tears poured down her cheek. Scooping her up, he cradled her on his knee. She breathed deeply, remembering his scent, a mix of cigarettes and cologne. He had laughed, then, telling her that his guitar was special now. It was autographed by his little girl.

Don't you to know the saying

Every cloud has a silver lining.

After he left them, she would go to sleep hugging his old sweater just to smell him again.

She noticed Eleanor watching her. She wiped her tears and walked up to the counter holding the guitar by its neck. Eleanor smiled, and joined her.

"See? I bet you're glad now we came in here. I didn't know you played, though."

"I don't." She showed her the back of it as tears welled up in her eyes again. "It was my Dad's guitar."

"Wow!" Eleanor looked into her eyes. "Are you ok? I never heard you talk about your Dad before."

Katherine shook her head. "No. He left us ten years ago. My Mom said it was 'cause he was a drunk."

and a problem shared

is a problem bared.

She turned as the sales clerk cleared his throat. "Can I help you?"

"I'll take this. Do you know who pawned it?"

He narrowed his eyes and scratched his shoulder.

"Look, I'll give you an extra twenty."

He nodded his head. "Alright. His name's John Cummings. He's a drunk, lives over in the rat trap on Fifth and Oak. He comes in once in a while with somethin' to sell. I was surprised he was getting rid of that, though. He must be pretty desperate."

Katherine paid him and left the shop, this time dragging Eleanor.

Katherine stood outside the apartment door. She hesitated. What if it's not him? What if it is?

She knocked, and held her breath as she waited.

And waited.

She turned to walk away and then heard shuffling on the other side of the door. She didn't know the man that opened it. He was old, unshaven with thinning grey hair. His face was lined and red, red capillaries showing clearly on his cheeks. It was the face of a man that had abused himself with booze and cigarettes for a long time.


His blue eyes glistened with tears. She knew those eyes. Her voice caught as her eyes filled with tears.

Then she uttered with a trembling voice, "Dad?"


All that ever really matters

is to be there for each other.

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