Breakdown. Part 1

My eyes fall on the guitar resting gingerly against the wall, gathering dust. Jake's guitar. I hate that guitar. It's the only reminder around here of who I used to be, but I can't bring myself to get rid of it. I hate Sundays.

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It's Sunday afternoon again. I'm alone, sprawled across the shaky ottoman in my living room, making a half-assed attempt to focus on the economics textbook in front of me. From the corner of the room drifts the lazy melodies of Blue Rodeo, interrupted regularly when the needle of my phonograph scrapes over the huge warp in the record. Every time I hear the music skip, I can't help but glance over at the old machine, which has been my best friend since I'd moved into the loft six months ago. Then, against my will, my eyes fall on the guitar resting gingerly against the wall, gathering dust. Jake's guitar. I hate that guitar. It's the only reminder around here of who I used to be, but I can't bring myself to get rid of it. I hate Sundays.

* * *

I was sixteen when I met Jake. I was just another reject, someone who didn't fit in between the Abercrombie models and Roxy whores at my high school. I hid behind my glasses and lack of identity, slipping through the halls at school and at home virtually unnoticed. That was how it had always been, and I was just fine with it.

I can still remember the night that changed. It was Saturday night, late in July. I had just managed to escape my house like I normally did every night, so I could avoid the alcohol-induced tears and arguments that always occurred when my stepdad came home. It wasn't completely dark yet; it was maybe about ten o'clock. Usually I'd go crash at a friend's house, but that night, I felt different. Although I knew it was probably foolish, I weaved my way through downtown Calgary and across the river into Prince's Island Park.

I was worried about my mom. The fights between her and Scott, my stepdad, were getting worse, but she insisted she was okay every time I asked her about it. I still don't know what she saw in that crackhead. Scott was a tool, and I hated him. He hated me too, and I knew it. He never hit me, but there were always the times when I was afraid to be in the same room as him. Tonight had been bad - the argument was about me. Scott didn't like how I was allowed to come and go as I pleased. Until he came around, my mom and I got along fine that way, but Scott wanted rules, he wanted control. So I left.

The park was empty, save for the drunken homeless men passed out here and there under the fir trees. I found a bench and sat down, wondering whether or not I'd be able to go home the next day. I could hear music coming from somewhere, an acoustic guitar. It was a song I knew well; I loved Jack Johnson.

Funny, I thought sarcastically as I listened to the intro to Taylor, someone's singing a song about me. I wandered down the path towards the music. What the hell? It's probably just some old hobo trying to make some extra change.

He was sitting on a bench with his back towards me. Now that I was closer, I could hear his voice softly mouthing the words as he strummed the chords to the chorus. He looked young, with long, unkempt hair, and a flannel shirt. I walked timidly closer and sat down across the path on another bench. I kept my head down, but my eyes kept flicking over to the boy. He noticed me but continued to play.

When he finished, he looked over at me inquisitively, but didn't say anything.

That was nice, I mumbled, eyes down. I was embarrassed.

Thanks, the boy said brightly. I always come down here and play at night; no one really seems to notice.

He seemed nice. I looked up at him. He looked to be about eighteen, and was unbelievably attractive.

Shouldn't he be at a party with some gorgeous cheerleader or something? I thought, conveniently forgetting that cheerleading had long ago left Calgary. Figuring I should say something, I opened my mouth again, but he beat me to it.

Who are you? he asked, bluntly, but not unkindly.

Uh, my name's Taylor, I half-whispered, blushing.

Taylor, he laughed softly. It seems I picked a good song to play tonight.

I smiled, starting to relax. Yeah, I was just walking and I heard you playing. I really like Jack Johnson.

He's pretty incredible, isn't he? the boy agreed. I'm Jake, by the way.

It's nice to meet you.

Likewise. Jake turned around to put his guitar in the case, so what brought you down here tonight? Normally I don't see anyone when I'm playing.

I paused before I answered. I was confused. For some reason, I wanted to tell Jake what was going on. Instead, I settled for saying, I just had some thinking to do.

Jake straightened up. Thinking? he asked, What about? Then, embarrassed, he said, sorry, I don't mean to pry. I just met you, after all.

I couldn't blame him. Who wouldn't wonder what I was doing down in the park at night, alone?

Well, I said slowly, do you want the long version or the short version? There's a Denny's just across the river. How would you like to grab a late night coffee with me and you can tell me all about it.

I must have looked hesitant because Jake quickly added, Only if you want to. Look, being down here alone isn't exactly the smartest idea. I'd hate to leave you here with only Fred and Robbie for company! He jerked a thumb over his shoulder at two motionless figures sprawled on the grass a ways off.

I couldn't help but laugh.

Why not? It's only coffee. And I don't have anywhere to go tonight. This should kill another hour or so.

Aloud, I said, Sure. Let's go.

28 comments sorted by best / new / date

    slann101
    so, im guessing the main charecter is female? Thats cool. I like this - a story which focuses on humans instead of guitars and rock stereotypes.
    u.n.t.a.m.e.d.
    CrossBack7 wrote: A few parts of dialogue were hard to follow. This part: Well, I said slowly, do you want the long version or the short version? Theres a Dennys just across the river. How would you like to grab a late night coffee with me and you can tell me all about it. I thought she was schizophrenic or something at first.
    Hmm? I don't understand. And sorry guys, TAYLOR IS A GIRL!!!!! I promise you it is completely clarified in part two. And I apologzie for Jake's attractiveness, but it's not Twilight attractiveness. You'll just have to wait for more detail. Otherwise thanks so much for the crits and ratings!!!
    ColinElmhurstEX
    well she said she didnt fit in with the skanks and hoes at her school, so unless she's (he's) mentally unstable, yes. shes a girl.
    mustangrobert13
    There were some grammatical errors, but I liked it! Keep it up man (or woman), I'll be reading the rest. "How would you like to grab a late night coffee with me and you can tell me all about it. That sentence probably could've been written better, but overall a good first part.
    Shane0s
    I actually really like this, I'm very intrigued. Can't wait for more. I've tried reading some of the others over the past 6 months but yeah, never seem to catch my interest.
    u.n.t.a.m.e.d.
    Oh k I got you now. Yeah, jakes asking her about denny's. Should have made that more clear.
    Abandoned_Alien
    oh wait, no i think it's confusing because it goes from her saying "do you want the long version or the short version?" to him saying "there's a denny's just across the river" but it doesn't tell you that he's saying it so it seems like she is
    Abandoned_Alien
    Shouldn't it be "How would you like to grab a late night coffee with me and I can tell YOU all about it"? not you can tell me because she's the one telling the story right?
    CrossBack7
    A few parts of dialogue were hard to follow. This part: Well, I said slowly, do you want the long version or the short version? Theres a Dennys just across the river. How would you like to grab a late night coffee with me and you can tell me all about it. I thought she was schizophrenic or something at first.
    ufm_shamrock
    i'm liking this too. but it left me wondering if Taylor is male or female.. im guessing female
    Jared R. Boyd
    not bad. curious as to sex of Taylor though. hmmm either way would work I suppose, though im guessing female.
    gorkyporky
    ok, im gonna go with the theory that Taylor is a girl. It was a tad short tho, but i liked it.
    blood_and_gold
    darthbuttchin wrote: I thought we were gonna get some gay stuff happening. IT would have been different to have a gay main character is all, not saying im disappointed it wast.
    Gay is my domain, it seems. Seriously, read it. u.n.t.a.m.e.d. this piece is fabulous. I really can't fault it. It's about the people and the music and I really like that. I look forward to seing where it goes.
    darthbuttchin
    I thought we were gonna get some gay stuff happening. IT would have been different to have a gay main character is all, not saying im disappointed it wast. I like the way its not immediately about some kid wanting to get in a band though. Ill be following this series.
    u.n.t.a.m.e.d.
    Thanks for the ratings guys! Wow, I thought that it would be apparent that Taylor was a girl, I'll make a note to make it more obvious in part two.
    Darkoblivion319 wrote: Great start, I can't wait to read the next installment. When Taylor says "I hate Sundays" is that a reference to Albert Camus' novel The Stanger?
    No it's not, sorry :p: You'll just have to keep reading to find out why.
    Darkoblivion319
    Great start, I can't wait to read the next installment. When Taylor says "I hate Sundays" is that a reference to Albert Camus' novel The Stanger?
    Skater901
    ColinElmhurstEX wrote: i was expecting a breakdown column. like, the genre hardcore,
    LOL so was I. XD Good story, I'm digging it. And win for mentioning Taylor. I can play the intro to that, pretty groovy riff. Gotta love it.