The Warmth of Music

Tony Machorro-Robinson 

        They were all huddled around a dying campfire, shivering. One man who was outside of the circle of people was rocking back and forth rhythmically keeping time while he plucked away on the cold steel strings of his guitar. He’d been playing it ever since he was a child, since long before the sun released an electromagnetic pulse that served as a reset button for humanity. It destroyed virtually everything electric from car batteries to satellites; it all became useless. People started looting and what was left of society fell apart.

He would always laugh at the fact that the best thing about playing an acoustic guitar was that you could still play even when the power went out. Only now the power would never be coming back on. He just rocked there, practically asleep as his fingers moved on their own, gliding through the motions. The orange light flickered lower and lower until one of the frosted coats turned toward the others and began to murmur, looking towards the man's guitar. The idea to burn the guitar had started merely as a joke when the fire roared and the wood was plentiful, but now the idea was turning into a possibility and the man holding the guitar realized this.

“Enough!” One tired voice from the circle called. “Let’s burn the guitar. We can break it up and burn some again tomorrow.” Hopeful eyes flicked toward the speaker and toward the man with the guitar, which was still softly emitting a melody.

The man with the guitar calmly spoke over his playing, “Why? It's not like we even have any food to cook.”

The desperate man who spoke before looked around at the others in disbelief. “Are you serious? We're trying to stay alive here. We're trying to stay warm. I don't think your comfort is worth more than all of ours. Plus, you could come get warm with us.”

The man with the guitar still strumming replied coolly, “I'm not cold.”

Again, the desperate man looked to the others. “Look man, there’s five of us and one of you. Either you give up the guitar and do a good thing, or we’ll take it from you.”

The man with the guitar just kept playing, and without looking up said, “Come take it.”

Two of the men jumped up and rushed toward him. He put the guitar down and in an instant, both men were floored, and the man with the guitar sat back down, beginning to play again. The other three people looked at each other then back toward the little flame flickering and hoped it wouldn't get too cold that night.