“Miss? What did we decide about–oh! Interested in that accordion too?”
The salesman leaned the gig bag against a chair and moved in for the kill. Empty, anxious guitar stands peppered the sales floor, but Aoife had ignored them; she still wore the sapphire blue Ibanez RG slung across her body like a royal sash. Her fingers absently noodled as she paced, spilling a tinny, unassuming stream of non-amplified notes into the room.
“Well, I’m definitely adopting this beautiful thing,” Aoife cooed, cradling the guitar’s neck. “And the bag for it, of course.” She glanced again at the small button accordion gazing hopefully at her. It was sized for a child and seemed to be about five years her senior, although she was certainly not an expert. Respectable condition, with an reasonable amount of scratches and wear. I know how you feel, girl, Aoife thought, dragging her fingers along the keys.
“I can’t add another roommate today, but I’m scheduled to swing back through in a few weeks. If she’s still here, I’ll take her home,” she said to the salesman, still looking at the child’s instrument. Her Galway accent sounded like it had been lightly dipped in extra warmth.
“Of course, Miss.” The salesman plucked the Ibanez from her outstretched hand, grabbed the gig bag, and began pushing buttons at the register. “That particular piece is a bit unusual for us. As you can see, we sell guitars, drum kits, effects processors, that sort of thing.” He gestured vaguely to the equipment stacked neatly in corners, the various guitars hanging from wall-mounted stands, the amplifiers struggling for space, threatening to overflow their tiny fiefdom. “But a bassist came in last week looking for an amp upgrade, and we accepted a number of unusual items in trade. I can’t guarantee someone else won’t –“
“I understand,” Aoife interrupted, a slight shimmer of annoyance on her face. The salesman nodded and returned to his punching. She touched the child’s accordion with a gentleness that didn’t quite consciously register. She closed her eyes and her father’s field returned, the image as crisp and vivid as if it had never departed. She was seven, her long hair trapped in a chaotic ponytail, kneeling on the grass in her favorite dress–the eggshell one with birds in various stages of flight printed on it. She squeezed and pulled her accordion, delighted at the sounds her tiny movements caused. She’d been practicing all week, building up to the proper tempo. Halfway into the song, Aoife glanced into the field and a smile erupted on her face; the cattle had heard the strange noises wafting in from the fence and were trotting over to investigate.
Aoife peeked behind her and flashed her grin at her father, who had stopped fiddling with the tractor’s seed spreader in order to watch. The cows bobbled excitedly towards the fence and kept advancing even after Aoife pressed the final note. “It’s like a stampede. They love that music,” her father chuckled. “Play it again for ’em!” His daughter giggled at the sight of sixteen cows stumbling into an awkward semi-circle, waiting expectantly. She took a breath and began again. The cows stood still, the notes washing over them. She held their attention in her small hands, scanned their wide faces as they nodded and chewed their cuds thoughtfully. Two measures before the end, one of the cows decided it was satisfied and resumed grazing, meandering back through the field. The others followed suit. Aoife sat in her spot for a few moments, and it was not until the tractor’s motor grumbled that she realized her heart had been humming. She–
Aoife blinked, withdrawing her hand from the accordion. The salesman hovered a few feet away. “I’ve got your total and everything’s boxed up. Will you be paying by card today?”
“Um. Yes, I…” She looked down at the accordion and a cheering crowd materialized across its wooden frame. She saw her tour bus. The idols she’d shared a stage with and the ones she dared to daydream might do so on some future day. iTunes playlists with her name accented in dark blue. Long nights, blurry mornings. And her father’s cattle, her first audience, the one that showed her that she had laughter and heartbreak and joy dancing in her fingers.
“I’m sorry,” she said, turning to face the salesman. “There’s one more thing I need.”
Based on this tweet.