I pluck the guitar strings together with my eyes closed. Picking up the discrepancy in sound, I turn the peghead and try again. I smile a fraction when the two strings sing as one. "What are you so smug about?" "Eh?" I crane my neck to the right and look at her looking at me. In her face I register honest curiosity. "Not smug. Why?" "You were smiling to yourself just now." "I wasn't even looking at you. How could you tell?" "Your dimple showed." "I thought you're reading?" With a sigh, followed by a shrug, she lifts her book off the grass and continues reading. Brother Odd by Dean Koontz. Not my genre, but then again, we disagree on so many things that I still can't believe she is sitting here beside me under the shade of this old tree, partially leaning against my back. I continue looking at her in silence, but I could've been a stump for all the attention she is giving me. Her eyes, half closed, dart about as she reads, her long lashes catching slivers of sunlight. Her lips are partially opened, and once in a while she would form soundless words.
Careful not to move too much, I give a shrug of my own. I love the feel of her weight on my back. Not too much pressure to make me exert a counterweight, but enough to assure me that she's really here. I turn my attention back to my guitar. Its once polished surface is now faded, and the original lighter color of wood grain shows where my callused fingers have been strumming all these years. I've changed the strings countless times, but the guitar still plays beautiful songs for me. I pluck the strings again, two at a time. This time the tuning is just about right.
"And even though the moment passed me by, I still can't turn away..."
I must have drifted into my own world again, 'cause I don't feel her weight lifting off me. When I look up, she is already kneeling in front of me, her right hand resting on mine, effectively stopping me from plucking the strings. Her head is slightly cocked to the right, her expression a curious mixture that I can't quite figure out. That's one of the things I adore about her: I can never figure her out. Her book is on the grass beside her, closed.
"Wha?" I raise my eyebrows in a show of calm inquiry. Inside my heart is thumping madly against my chest. I give a quick prayer that she can't feel the slight trembling of my hands.
This is the first time I sing in front of her, for her. And she hates it. Goddamit! I knew this is a bad idea. I feel like shoving my guitar into its canvas bag before I do anything rash and stupid with it.
"I told you I can't sing that well. Hell, this is one of the only songs I can play."
"Which part?" I give her the most innocent look I can muster. "I can't sing well or I only know a few songs?"
"I know you can sing a lot of songs."
"Well, you're not Johnny Rzeznik, obviously." It's a wonder her expression remains unreadable. My own must be changing like a tropical storm.
I look for the condemnation in her eyes. I find none. I watch her in nervous silence, my fingers frozen awkwardly on the fretboard. Without taking her eyes off me, she reaches into her jeans pocket and takes out her handphone. She then looks at her phone and fiddles with it.
"Start again. I'm recording this."
My fingers refuse to budge. "Why?" "Simply. Sing. Now." "Why?" She blows her wispy fringe off her long lashes in a loud huff. Sunlight dances in her dark brown eyes. A slow smile plays on her lips. "Because it's you, singing this song. Because I love your voice more than I'll ever love Johnny Rzeznik's. Because I want to hear this every day." A sudden wave warms my cheeks. "You'll get bored." "So sing me a new song when that happens. Sheesh. Now shut up and sing." I face down toward my guitar to hide my smile. I'm still smiling when I start singing Name.