My last conversation with Beth (Part 1)

It felt like she’d been in her room too long. She was napping, as ever. And I couldn’t gauge her mood, as ever. Too quiet, at the very least, too sleepy – she’d miss the takeaway and the shit, slumbersome TV we always shared and laughed through.

Both Beth and Molly were home for the weekend. In my dream, I was looking for some shampoo I didn’t want her to take away with her.

So I climbed up the stairs to the attic rooms shared between her and Molly – the space we’d move to, to give them space.

But as I turned the stairs, banister in hand, it turned into the the banister of the loft room of my parents house. The loft room was my safe place, all mine – the trade-off  for my brother having the big bedroom and me the box room. It was my haven, away from the everyday stress and strain of angst teenage life. A closed door, music, solitude, guitars. Sometimes darkness.

I felt myself speed up in anticipation, double jumping the final few stairs. I so wanted to see her and get her to come downstairs and share the shit TV.

 

I knocked.

me&beth

I expected the usual mess of assorted cutlery and cast aside clothing, remnants of multiple friends sharing pre-loading drinks and after, sharing intimacies and slumber. I was worried she might think I was being critical. I wanted her to know I wasn’t. I wouldn’t tidy up. I just wanted her to come downstairs and share shit TV.

I walked in.

Beth was sat quietly on the chair of my childhood – a cream, padded steel-framed Habitat chair. After I left home, my dad used to sit on it, listening to trad jazz CDs. It’s long gone now.

She was sat there, quietly, doing nothing in particular, but doing something, quietly mending something, sewing, making.

She was still, calm, like she wanted to be alone, but at the same time, happy to be disturbed.

So I thought I’d push through her solitude by messing about, fooling around – my default for changing a mood.

I realised my guitar was there. And there was music playing. Stirring, Icelandic post-rock. I picked up my guitar, but realised it wasn’t mine. It was a right-handed Gibson (I’m left handed, I have a Gibson copy) and its middle two strings were missing, making it doubly hard to play.

None the less, I sat down – I don’t recall where – and started to play.

Beth seemed fine with my intrusion on her solitude and to my musical accompaniment, despite the groans and moans she’d usually make when I played guitar. So I flicked the switch on my old valve amp. I played right-handed, with strings missing, but amazingly, the sound and the chords I made perfectly accompanied the music in the room.

Beth nodded approvingly.

Then she looked up, raised her eyebrows and looked directly, quizzically but playful at me.

‘So…?’

 

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