By the age of four years, three months and 26 days, Eddie Feeney was able to play 16 songs on the guitar his grandparents had bought him for his first birthday. Each time Eddie was placed on the rug in the middle of his living room, he flipped himself over and cried for his guitar, his eyes only drying once it was safely in his possession. Then he would play a song, and everyone would cringe, asking him to stop playing while they ended their conversations, or, “just to get some peace and quiet.” Which was simultaneously understandable and a tremendous shame, because, as they were about to learn, the guitar was Eddie’s voice.
In the first two weeks of owning the guitar, Eddie invented his communication rules. Nobody else knew these rules, however, because he was only very young and unable to tell anyone about them. So, if his parents heard a particular pattern being plucked on his guitar, they would presume Eddie was just being difficult and request he be quiet immediately. Since he was trying to communicate he was hungry or tired, he wouldn’t stop and, as a consequence would have his guitar taken from him and hidden away, causing the unfortunate cycle of despair to continue. He knew if he was going to get his family to understand anything he wanted to say, then he was going to have to get much, much better at the guitar.
Only being able to practice in between bouts of having the guitar taken from him, Eddie struggled to make any real gains for the first few months. But, strum by strum and note by note, Eddie was allowed to keep his guitar for increasingly longer periods of time. The day his family celebrated his first year since being born, Eddie was able to play himself his own birthday song. The adult guests attending his first birthday party were so impressed and so full of praise that, from the following day, everything changed. His parents no longer took the guitar from him and, in fact, encouraged him to play and practice, even stopping midway through their conversations to prompt him to continue playing should he want to stop to take a rest. He was asked over to friends houses, not to play, but to entertain the other boys and girls as they ran around their backyards playing hide-and-go-seek or tag. As his talent grew, so to did the demand for his music. Unable to speak, Eddie attempted to communicate his pain in the songs he was writing but that just lead to more demand on his time. No matter what he did, Eddie appeared destined to be thanked and congratulated for sharing his pain and despair. Until, one day, he stopped playing altogether.
If he couldn’t use his voice, maybe not playing would speak volumes. And it did. Four years, three months and 26 days after being born, Eddie Feeney quit playing the guitar forever. His parents and friends were furious, but, Eddie knew it wouldn’t last. He knew that they just needed time to appreciate what he had given them and no longer take it for granted. They even tried taking him to the music store to see if another guitar might encourage him to play again. It didn’t. Eddie had played too much, stayed up far past his bedtime on several occasions and had travelled to too many friend’s houses to miss playing the guitar. He needed a break. For one year he rested. Not speaking, not playing, just resting.
It wasn’t until early elementary school that Eddie found his voice again. This time, in an instrument known as the recorder. With this instrument, Eddie found no one pressured him to play and no one demanded he play for them. For once, he believed, the people around him genuinely appreciated just how beautiful his guitar had been.
My name is Gregg Savage and, every night when the house is quiet, I write and publish a free children’s story at dailytales.com.au for you to share and enjoy.
Illustrations by Alisha Towers: FACEBOOK
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