Day 88: Percussion

Why is there a part of me that wants to pick up percussion? I’m the shyest of the shy, and it’s getting worse with age. The drummer is the spine of the band, aren’t they? Forming the bones of the music, flashy and insistent, the captain of the sound ship. Couldn’t be me.

But what about that glorious heartbeat pedal? What about the tympani with their rumbling basso profundo voices that I feel through my seat? The icy, teeth-gritting cymbals? What about the ecstatic tambourine?

Too loud, certainly. What if I hit it wrong, clanging the song off-course? What then?

Day 81: Collateral

Rooster got his nickname in basic, when his cowlick wouldn’t lay down no matter how much he wet it. He’s got twenty-two confirmed kills, highest in the squad. He shifts into murder gear with music, the pounding, screeching beat of dark metal defining the soulless, thousand-yard stare that keeps everyone away.

Everyone except me. I’ve seen that harrowing blankness on the daily. But I’ve seen him come back into himself after lights-out, when he’s just Josh. His eyes get glittery and soft, then, and he melts, reaching for me, whispering tender things, humming Mariah or Taylor Swift against my skin.

Day 21: Bridge

A friend of mine died of cancer in November. She lived in my chat apps; we shared texts, photos, and voice memos, but never met in person.

This morning, a video popped up on TikTok of a girl playing bass along to Duran Duran’s “Rio.” After a ten second debate with myself, I sent the link to my dead friend. It was a tiny celebration, the easy, ecstatic talent of the girl playing a song we both loved.

Twelve-year-old me sang along to MTV, alone in the basement; almost forty years later, the song dances across the river to her.