|This Week’s Theme: Your adult character just got a guitar for Christmas–a gift very out of character. What changes, if any, does this cause in her life or personality?|
"Is the man sick?"
I knew Cara was only trying to help, in her typically brute-force, tactless way. I handed her the note that had come threaded between the guitar's metal strings. I watched her eyes scan across the dozen or so hand scrawled words, watched the revulsion grow in her grimace.
"Oh my God," she said as she handed the note back to me. "Hope you get better soon? Motivation for your recovery? Holy crap, Dan, your dad is one sick jerk."
"Not sick," I replied, "just... misguided." I swallowed back my desire to let the tears flow again, but it would only get Cara on another rant.
"Still a jerk," she murmured, her fingers fiddling with the needles on a miniature Christmas tree she'd brought to cheer my hospital room. "I mean, didn't you tell him--"
"Yes, I told him." I did not want her to say it out loud, again. My left hand throbbed enough under its club-like, white bandage to remind me every few seconds of what I'd lost. I kept trying to remind myself of what I hadn't lost. I hadn't lost my life. I hadn't lost my sight, or my entire arm. And if I worked hard at therapy over the next hundred years or so, I might find I hadn't lost my sense of humor. But that was unclear. What I had lost was three of the fingers on my left hand.
"Sorry," Cara mumbled. She looked down at the fake, little tree, eager and sincere amid the austere, sterile room. Two books in Christmas wrap sat under it on my little side table. The TV behind Cara's head showed some claymation reindeer in silence. Somewhere, children were watching this show and experiencing the wonder of Christmas and the magic of Santa Claus. Here, I lay recovering from a drunk driver's selfish indulgence.
A tear fell from Cara's face onto my sheet. She shook her head slowly. "Doesn't he realize that you'll never play again?" She looked up at me, a deep pain swelling inside her. "That your dream is gone? That our dream is gone?"
I wiggled my phantom fingers, the ones that had been crushed to pulp when the SUV slammed into the door of my car and crumpled it into my side. I breathed deep, as deep as I could before the pain in my chest became unbearable, and let it out. I looked at the guitar leaning against the wall in the corner. A beauty, it must have set Dad back nearly a thousand dollars.
"One dream is gone," I whispered as I reached my one complete hand across and put it on top of hers. "But we still have others." She did not look up at me but let a few more tears fall from her eyes onto the back of my hand.
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