By CJ Walters
My winning entry for the 2020 National Flash Fiction Day Anthology.
Like a meandering tributary its edges and sides weave and swoop to form its body. The neck juts out, like the formation of a proud mountain long ago. The way its surface glistens reminds all who watch of the sun reflecting on a tranquil summer lake. The strings are straight and taut, until the end where they split off into twists and twirls. The guitar is old but well cared for, just like its owner.
When the owner, Alejandro, sits down to play his instrument his belly folds in on itself, forming a small shelf on which he leans his guitar. The sinews and muscles of his arms tense and relax as he prepares to play, like a lion limbering up to hunt.
Alejandro was not thought handsome until he reached middle-age, but is still not a healthy man. In fact these days he is rarely seen without a cigarette flapping with his mouth as he talks, the smoke drifting around his head so that one of his eyes is almost permanently squinting.
But now, nearing fifty the ladies most definitely do think he’s sexy. They say it’s the confidence he exudes, the way he always wears the same dress shirt with sleeves rolled up and buttons down as far as his coarse, hairy chest – and if there’s a slight waft of body odour well then that’s just his perfume, his calling card, his siren song to the ladies to let them know he’s there.
As we’ve established, his abs are not rippling, but nor does he make self-deprecating jokes about his own shortcomings – he does not see it so. If someone were ever to be as uncouth as to point out that he should take some notice of his stomach’s growing size he would probably remark: “What use is my tummy if I do not fill it with food? And what use are you, if you are so rude.”
The commentator would be ashamed. The gathered friends would laugh. And Alejandro would begin another song.