Deb had left work early and come home to an unnervingly empty house. Fortunately, the discordant notes trickling down from the attic let her know where to find her husband. She pulled down the stairs, braced herself, ascended.

“Hey Springsteen!”

Startled, Paul looked up from his guitar, then smiled widely. “You’re home!” Deb pulled up a milk crate beside the dusty trunk he was sitting on; they kissed. “Listen to this,” Paul said, giving a strum. “Can you believe how sweet this baby sounds, even after all this time?”

“You’ve always taken good care of it.” He strummed a couple more times, then began very carefully but clumsily shifting between chords. “How long have you been at it up here?”

“A couple hours,” he said, focused intently on his fingers, “ever since I got home from the appointment. I tell ya, honey, this is it. This time I’m finally going to master this thing.”

Deb let him continue until a grating jangle of notes broke his concentration. “Paul,” she said softly, “how bad is it?”

His chin quivered. “I always struggled with that ‘A’ chord. My fat fingers . . .”


“It has to be this time,” he said. “My last chance.”

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox

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