The Seven Five Nothing

The Seven Five Nothing are a collection of hyper-short stories, each written in a single sitting with no editting.

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10. E Chord.

I hated the E chord. It had blighted me for months. Maybe six. Maybe more. No matter how many times I played it on that blue-bodied guitar, I just couldn't get it to stick. It slid out of my head like hot butter on a pan turned sideways, leaving nothing but a feint residue every time.

I played it mostly because I didn't know what else to do. The energy had gone. That desire. My heart beat at half the pace, filling to half the size, pumping half as fast. Things just seemed slower, somehow, like they took more energy to get off the ground.

I wanted to paint, I really did. I just didn't know where to start. Which way the canvas should sit on the easel, which colours I might want to use. Even how to conceive the images in my head, always knowing that they would be weaker when made real than I could see them behind my eyes.

I was burned, it's true. And I didn't know what to do with it.

The strings fit awkwardly under my clumsy fingers, struggling to be snug. It was as though my hands were carrying the weight of my shoulders, and that it was channeling down, pressing badly on the tired strings. And tired they were. Needed replacing.

My mind wandered as I sat, attempting to get this fucken E down. It took me to a conversation we once had, in our elliptical early days - not knowing if we were right or wrong, or even heading in the same direction in our confusing lives. We were walking amongst brown leaves that the trees had shed, readying for their winter blues. As she pulled her collar up and then slinked a hand into mine, she asked what was on my mind, and I told her, I said I wondered what the world would be like if the wind ever stopped blowing. She asked me to explain, and, in the crappiest of ways, much like I'm trying to get a handle on playing the E now, I mangeld a response. I talked about how, if the wind stopped blowing, things would suddenly stop changing. That flowers wouldn't be able to pollinate, that tides would no longer roll, and that eventually, all the air would taste stale. That no matter whether we liked it or not, the wind had always had to move, otherwise everything else stopped. And at that, I think I got the E.

I strummed it several times over, without moving my cribbed hand or stiff fingers once. I wanted the onsetting cramp to become a muscle memory - something to stay with me ever time I slid the tips of my fingers along the neck of this guitar. It hurt like hell, but sometimes, that's just the way learning goes.

She came in the house, and I tried not to think of the transgression. It'd been sitting gently over my heart for months, lessening its to half the pace, only letting it fill to half the size, only allowing it to pump half as fast. In my dazed and confused state, I'd let the numb take care of the pain, and allowed her never uttered apology disappear. But of course, the ache and the burn had to go somewhere, and so it was, to temper my ability to play a fucken chord. She ruffled my hair as she walked by, and I smiled, genuinely, of course, but still nervous of how I'd ever find the right time to let the words out. There would, I thought, never be the right moment. It just doesn't exist. And with my fingers still pressed down on the fret board, the ridges being impressed from the strings burning my fingers, I simply said 'Hey.'

Slowly learning to start over, to love and to trust and to just fucken be was not easy. It was like trying to play a chord that others find simple. Some things aren't simple. Some people aren't uncomplicated. And strumming, over and over and over, trying to hold everything in place, awkwardly adapting to the shape, just to make a simple sound felt as hard as trying to hold my heart somedays.

But of course, she was still the greatest. And nothing could stop me thinking, or feeling or even expressing all of that. So as this chord was strummed again and again and again, she simply watched, and then said, 'It's sounding better all the time.'
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