Normally Ricky enjoyed hanging out with Nevin and Kalila while they were writing a new song, but today he found himself gazing into the distance, forgetting where he was, returning to the moment reluctantly, as if it was a chore.
Nevin’s hands paused over the keyboard. “Is something wrong?”
“You’re acting like you’d disappear if you knew how to do it,” Kalila added.
“No,” Ricky sighed. “I’m fine. This session is going really well, and…” he met their eyes and realized they knew he was lying. “It’s just that today is the anniversary of my father’s death. I’ve got a lot on my mind.”
Nevin came over and gave him a hug. “I’m sorry. You must miss him a lot.”
“I never really had a father,” Kalila said, her voice soft with sympathy, “But I know how special they are to humans.”
“It’s been ten years,” Ricky said. “And it’s a lot easier than it used to be. I think the hardest part is that he was the only person in the family who understood me. My mom and brother are all about status, but Dad didn’t care about things like that. He would’ve been proud of me no matter what I did with my life, even if I was a ditch-digger, as long as I was a happy one.”
Nevin frowned in confusion. “But you aren’t a ditch-digger. And you’re happy, so…?”
“What he means,” Kalila said, “Is that his mom and brother are embarrassed that he manages a rock band instead of working in a bank or something.” She glanced at Ricky. “I’m right, aren’t I?”
Ricky nodded. “Sometimes I think they’re jealous because Dad and I were so close. It’s depressing to think how one mistake on a dark road can change everything. My life could’ve been so different.”
“No offense,” Kalila said, “But we’re pretty happy things worked out like they did so we can have you here. But if it’ll make you feel better, I can blank out some of those memories for you.”
“That’s a nice offer, but I don’t think so.”
“How about your mood?” Nevin asked. “I can fix that up without altering any of your memories.”
Ricky shook his head. “Thanks, both of you, but I’ll get over it.”
Kalila looked at him in confusion. “But why would you want to keep memories that cause you pain?”
“I guess it’s one of those human things,” Ricky said. “The memories hurt sometimes, but they make me happy, too. It’s like having souvenirs of a place that isn’t there any more. The memories help keep my dad special and alive.”
Kalila and Nevin pondered this.
“Would you like us to write a song for him?” Nevin asked.
Kalila agreed. “It's not much, but it’s what we're good at.”
Ricky felt a sting in his nose and blinked back sudden tears. “Thanks, you two. That would be nice.”