Here Comes the Sun
by M. B. Barlow
I stared at the guitar above the counter over the man’s head. There
were many others in the store, many that were within my budget, but
this one just screamed out. I couldn't focus on any other.
‘How much is that one?’ I asked him.
He looked behind him at the shiny black guitar I couldn’t stop staring
at. My heart raced just looking at the thing and I couldn't say why.
‘Hmm,’ he said, making a tutting sound with his mouth. ‘Oh, that one...
that’s on the higher end, my friend.’
The other guitars I’d been looking at ranged from fifty pounds to two
hundred pounds, and that last option was above my budget anyway. The
one high on the wall didn’t have a price tag, a giveaway straight away.
It was plain black and shiny. It was calling me so much that the others
were already fading into the back of my mind.
‘Well,’ he said, looking at me. ‘This one tends to go for five hundred.’
Five hundred pounds? That was way over my budget and just too much for
an acoustic guitar.
‘Well,’ he said again, looking at me with devilish eyes. ‘I could be
willing to go below that... question is, what can you afford, my
I could afford two hundred, and even that was going above budget. But
my body ached for it.
‘I’ve only got two hundred pounds,’ I told him, hurting so much that I
wouldn’t be able to get it.
He shook his head. ‘Can’t go that low, my friend. I’d be cutting off my
own hand there if I sold it for that price.’
I nodded, feeling ashamed for my cash-strapped situation.
‘How about…’ he said while sucking in his teeth, ’three hundred? And
I’d be selling it at a loss there, my friend.’
I didn’t have three hundred. I still couldn’t afford it. Dodgy salesman
vibes emanated from the man, he knocked two hundred pounds off it
straight away showed that he was just seeing if I was fool enough to
pay it. And I might have been if I had that kind of money on me.
I shook my head and started to walk back to the other guitars. One of
them would have to do, as hard as that was.
‘Wait,’ the salesman said, sucking in his teeth again. I turned back
round to face him. ‘How about two fifty, with a free pick that I’ll
throw in with it? On the house. I cannot go lower than that. I’m
throwing my kid’s college fund out with that kind of price.’
The man was sweaty and desperate with a fake smile plastered on his
face. I was never much of a haggler but I’d knocked half the price off
with no real effort. And I was in the ballpark with that price.
‘Give me two picks and you’ve got a deal,’ I said, feeling confident.
The salesmen grunted, not looking too pleased, but he grabbed the
guitar and placed it on the counter. The roof of the music shop
reflected on the shiny black paint.
He took the money from my card with no real pleasantry but said thank
you anyway, even if it was under his breath. I had no case, no bag and
nothing but a receipt on a credit card was about to implode, two picks
in my pocket and a guitar that felt otherworldly in my hands.
I’ve never been the greatest on acoustic but I always felt reasonable,
passable you could even say. As long as my wife liked me playing, that
was all that I needed.
I brought the guitar home and laid it next to the couch. I took off my
jacket before Rashida jumped all over me. I picked her up, her tongue
licking all over my face. I had barely been gone a few hours, but she
always treated me like I’d been gone for years. She was the best dog
I’d ever had, the only thing in my life since my wife died.
After having something to eat and drink, a single person’s dinner for
one, I looked at the guitar. I tried to ignore it, but it seemed to
inhabit all my thoughts. Rashida was fed and happy, sleeping
comfortable in her bed, so it was just me and the guitar.
My eyes brushed over the picture on the table. She had been so
No. No, I had to stop thinking about it. It’d been six months since
she’d died and the only thoughts left in my head were of her and they
didn’t seem to go away, they only got stronger. I had to get over her,
move on. By force if I had to.
The guitar was so shiny I could have used it as a mirror. I adjusted
the strings to my satisfaction and strummed one of the free pics along
the strings. A beautiful sound wrung out, making my heart ache. It was
loud enough for Rashidah to pick up her head for a second before going
back to sleep.
I put it down. My hands were shaking.
The last guitar I’d owned was in the bin. Smashed to pieces. I’d done
that when I...got the call.
Now I felt like I couldn’t do anything with it. I’d wasted money I
didn’t have on something I couldn’t play and that I wasn’t even any
good at playing.
I got up from the couch and went back to the kitchen where I had a
glass of water, drinking it all down so fast I started coughing before
devouring another right after. I felt so thirsty.
The kitchen had been her domain. Even after six months I could barely
string a decent meal together; it all seemed so pointless with no one
to cook for.
The doorbell went.
The sound made me jump, almost dropping my glass. I stood silent for a
moment. It was late at night and I wasn’t expecting anyone or any
deliveries. I had no real friends, certainly no one I would expect to
drop by unexpectedly.
I didn’t move to answer it when the bell went again, followed by some
hurried knocks on the door.
I put down the glass and moved to the door, my heart pounding in my
chest. People didn’t come to visit me, and even then I couldn’t explain
why it got me so worked up. It was probably just one of those Mormon
groups that go door to door. It was nothing, yet I was worried.
I opened the door slowly.
It was a woman, my age, red hair that was soaking wet even though it
wasn’t raining, it hadn’t been for days.
She stood in front of me and she looked so familiar. I knew her, I knew
her more than anyone. Yet...
I looked back to the table where the picture of my wife sat. My dead
wife. And I looked back to the red-headed woman stood before me.
‘Hi,’ she said, smiling faintly.
It was her. It was my wife. Standing before me, smiling as if she
didn’t know she was dead. But she was dead, I saw her dead body at the
‘How are you?’ she asked, more sheepish than I had ever known her to be
in the time we’d been married.
‘I’m fine,’ I said, barely aware that I was even speaking the words.
It was absurd. I was asking a dead woman how she was. I knew how she
was. She was dead, that’s how she was and that’s wasn’t a good state of
mind or body.
‘Yeah, I’m ok.’ She wrung the water from her hair. ‘Do you mind if I
I nodded, barely aware of what my body was doing.
She stepped into the house and I closed the door behind us. When she
came inside Rashida jumped from the couch and walked up to her,
uncertain. She bent down to rub her behind her ear and she responded
with a wagging of the tail and a small bark.
‘You’re just beautiful, aren’t you?’
More wagging of the tail. Rashida was happy to see her again. It had
been months after all.
‘You mind making me a cup of tea?’ she asked me. ‘You know how I like
I did know how she liked it and I nodded my head and headed to the
kitchen. I watched her as the kettle boiled behind me. She looked the
same as my dead wife. Tammy. Maybe it wasn’t her, just somebody who
happened to look like her. Yet she knew me and I knew very few people.
None of them looked like Tammy.
As I brought the tea to her, made the way she liked it, I saw that she
was holding the photo of us in her hand. Rashida lay her head on her
lap as she had always done with her. She never did that with me, only
‘We were pretty cute, weren’t we?’ she asked.
‘Yeah. Yeah, we were,’ I said, sitting beside her. I held my own cup of
coffee, taking it strong which I didn’t usually like but this time I
felt it was needed.
She sipped her tea and held the cup in her hands. She rubbed Rashida
behind her ear.
She didn’t look any different from what I remembered, before she’d
died. The same age, the same lines across her forehead. The same mouth,
the same hair. The same all over.
‘I see you got a new guitar,’ she said, gesturing to the shiny black
object that had cleared my bank account.
I nodded. I didn’t really know what to say.
‘Well, are you going to play for me?’
She smiled at me and it did something to me, it wrung something inside
my body that had lain dormant ever since the phone call.
I picked up the guitar, feeling the strings touching my skin. They were
sharp but familiar. This guitar was far better than the guitar I’d been
playing that had wooed Tammy, that had made her approach me after the
pub performance. I made barely anything for those gigs yet they’d
brought me her which made money irrelevant.
She’d smiled at me and I knew she was the one. The only one.
‘What...what do you want me to play?’
She seemed to think over it. ‘Some Beatles?’
I nodded, holding the pick in my fingers. She always loved The Beatles,
and I remembered the song she loved more than the others.
‘Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter,’ I sang,
my voice hoarse but clear. ‘Little darling, it feels like years
since it’s been here. Here comes the sun. Here comes the sun, and I say
it’s all right.’
She closed her eyes as she listened to me sing, adding the little doo
doo doo bits herself. My guitar playing was better than my singing
but it never mattered to her, she was entranced anyway.
After I finished she opened her eyes, tears coming from the corners.
‘That was beautiful.’
I nodded. I put the guitar down, not knowing if she wanted me to play
something else but I knew I couldn’t continue. Even that had taken a
lot out of me, my hands shaking again, and I had so many questions.
She took another sip of her tea.
‘Why are you here, Tammy?’
It hurt to ask her. She lived here, she didn’t need to be questioned.
Yet she was dead and it had to be asked.
‘I know you have questions. It’s sensible, to question things. But this
time I want you to not ask me anything.’
She put her hand in mine. It was warm.
She pulled me forward and hugged me, hard. I thought I could hear her
crying but when she came forward but there wasn’t a tear on her face.
‘I need to go,’ she said, getting up from the couch.
I wanted to grab her, bring her back down, sing her more songs and hug
her forever. But I didn’t do anything.
I watched her go to the door and walk out, not even looking back.
I never played the guitar again after that day. I never felt I wanted
to. I knew if Tammy walked back in one day then I would bring the
guitar out in an instint but until that day I wouldn’t play again.
I could never be sure if all that happened that day was a dream or my
wife really did walk back into my life to hear me play a song. I knew
she was dead, I knew there was no coming back from that and I didn’t
believe in ghosts.
All I knew was when I locked that shiny black guitar away I wouldn’t
look at it again unless she walked back into my life.
© 2019 M. B. Barlow
Bio: M. B. Barlow lives in Glasgow, Scotland. He's been
working on a novel for years and just got back to the world of short
stories. He has two stories previously published in Aphelion Webzine,
The Pathetic Motley Clown and Brown Rabbit.
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