Playing

She’s playing and she sways and rocks and coaxes music from the living, breathing animal that sings in her lap, her dark eyes lifting to focus on his face, a brilliant smile curving her lips.

It’s always been a key –

(a cigarette-scented woman in a thin shirt and what was once one of his ties, too-thin hands earnestly rewrapping ribs, shaking hands petting the broken body of a mangy cat, hands within the ritual of lighting a cigarette, hands opening a paper bag unwrapping a bottle of very old scotch)

– that opened up a place in her, in him, where there might’ve been the
smallest connect, but it was there.

She plays, occasionally singing to the crowd, la la las and yeah yeahs and actual lyrics and laughter, and she plays as though she’s tireless, because she’s got that key –

(little black rectangle and it just felt wrong and the way she danced for him and the smell of peaches and constellation eyes and the purple green spotted towel and singing roses and a castle inside a forest on the edge of a waterfall of souls all inside a drawing on a wall where a girl with invisible wings tries to remember what it was like to fly)

– that seems to open it up inside the passers by: that woman with the tangles of dark, curly hair, and a single, bright white sneaker, walking a little black mop of a scottydog, an older man with a shock of white hair and the spectacles and demeanor of an stern, fatherly doctor, a younger man, tall, with indigo tattoos and storm-purple eyes, and a look that goes right through you, and a scrap of a thing, too tall, too thin, ducking by, avoiding touch and hiding her face, the faded ribbon tangle of her hair fitting with her tattered clothes and the look of honest longing on her face as she steals one last glance at the guitar, broken hands dangling uselessly at her sides.

…and life’s worth loving, anyhow.

And she’s playing.

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