• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 07

Gifts of love

His first gift to me was an accordion, passed down from his horse after loading his other possessions into saddlebags. It could be that he simply ran out of space and could not take it with him; over the years I have wondered, was it a gift of love or convenience?

I chose to believe it was love, as I taught myself to play during those long autumn days after he left. The dry heat outstayed its welcome that year, tiring the farm workers during the harvest, baking the stubbled crops to tarred brown. I sat watching the men work with the accordion in my lap, experimenting with the keys, trying to find the right chords to accompany their old songs.

Extending the bellows by pulling the pallets open between my arms, I imagined them inflating with the warm, rose-tinted air of our short romance. I would pause and hold the pink pocket of air inside the bellows, suspended in time and space, and I could almost hear the anticipated sigh of exhalation before it happened. Squeezing my hands back together, I returned the air to the atmosphere, where it rose as a pale blue cloud, veined with the faintest traces of love. My hope lived on within the folds of the instrument, just as a stone wall retains the warmth of the sun long after it has set.

Now, I bring you back to the place that we parted, and we sing and play songs to the cattle in the fields. I point out the rainbow that tempted him away, the black forest on the horizon that consumed him. I tell you that he never knew about his second gift to me, and that over the years, I have never doubted that this one was made of love.