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The Guitarist

Story by Will Donnelly (Read author interview) September 29, 2009

art by Robinson Accola

“If you had to give up either socks or gloves,” I asked Celia last year, “which would you sacrifice?”

“If I had to?” she said. We watched a moth tap against a bank’s lighted clock. Finally, she looked at me. “Socks. I could still wear shoes against the cold.”

“If you could fly to Mars,” I said, “but you had to stay forever, would you go?”

Celia is a year older than I am and significantly taller. She fell on a patch of ice in March and broke her tailbone. “And I don’t even have a tail,” she said, and that was all it took for me to fall in love. If only I could make her feel the same.

Still I queried. “Okay: meat or vegetables, you have to stop eating one of the two. Which do you forego?”

Now I’m taking lessons in classical guitar from a man called Senhor Pereira, and there is something in his voice that tells me he is good at what he does. My progress is slow, but as I learn to hook my fingers on the strings, to pluck and tap against the balsam, Senhor Pereira clucks his tongue and hums along.

“What do you want from the guitar?” he asked the day I met him.

“To make a girl fall in love with me.”

He shook his head. “This,” he said, “I cannot do.”

“Well, I guess I’ll settle for Flamenco.”

“Good,” said Senhor Pereira. “This is how we hold the guitar against our knee—”

“Senhor Pereira,” I interrupted, “what is the purpose of music?”

He looked up to the ceiling. “I don’t know,” he said after a moment. “Really, I do not know.”

I do, though. This I know the answer to, but I’m not telling Celia or Senhor Pereira. This I know, but I’m not telling anyone at all.

About the Author

Will Donnelly is a Ph.D. student in literature and creative writing at the University of Houston in Texas, where he lives and teaches English. He holds an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and his fiction has appeared previously in The Potomac Review, Hobart, Quick Fiction, and Jump! Magazine.

About the Artist

Robinson Accola creates artwork for SmokeLong Quarterly as needed.

This story appeared in Issue Twenty-Six of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Twenty-Six
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SmokeLong Fitness--The Community Workshop

Next Date to Join: January 1!

On September 1, SmokeLong launched a workshop environment/community christened SmokeLong Fitness. This asynchronous community workshop is happening right now on our dedicated workshop site. If you choose to join us, you will work in a small group of around 10-12 participants to give and receive feedback. Each Monday, you will receive a new writing task (one writing task each week) designed by the senior editor team of SmokeLong. The core workshop is asynchronous, so you can take part from anywhere at anytime. We are excited about creating a supportive, consistent and structured environment for flash writers to work on their craft in a community.