I just, oh, I just need a friend
I’m not gonna spend ten weeks
Have everyone think I’m on the mend

Rehab by Amy Winehouse

from the flashfiction novel, Comes As You Are


You can’t bring much to rehab. You’re lost without your guitar.

One of the nurses takes pity on you and says her boyfriend could bring his and sit with you while you play—if that’s all right. What choice do you have? You want to play so badly you’re dissolving. She tells you you can’t be alone with the guitar because they’d had a previous patient who used the strings to kill himself.

Mark, the nurse’s boyfriend, brings in an acoustic guitar and you play. He’s tries to read, but after two minutes of hearing you limbering up and then playing the familiar arpeggios from “Stairway to Heaven,” he sets the book aside and watches. You look up. He’s frowning as if he is trying to remember something.

“You’re really good,” he says.

All good guitarists play Stairway to Heaven like this; it’s almost cliché.

“It’s a nice guitar.”

“I want to join a band, but Cheryl wants to get married and says musicians end up spending all of their money on drugs and overdose.” He realizes what he’s said. His mouth falls open. “I didn’t mean you. Crap, foot in mouth, right?”

You smile. “Not all musicians use. Look at Eddie Rodgers.”

“But who’s to say, right? It’s not like you know him personally, right?”

“We went to school together.”

“You’re fucking me. You know Eddie Rodgers?”

You nod. Mark stares at you, his expression changes.

“You’re Whitewash,” he says.

You look at your fingers on the neck of the guitar. “Used to be.”

“I can’t believe I’ve been sitting here all this time and just realized. Fucking Lucy Sanders. Sorry.”

You shrug. You offer him his guitar, but he puts his palms up. “Please, could you play that riff from ‘Losing All I Got?’”

You could play that in your sleep. There were times when you practiced it so much you dreamed it.

Your fingers dance over the strings. The way they used to. Before.

Mark presses his fist against his lips and shakes his head. “Amazing. Whitewash is shit without you.”

You quell the urge to ask for gossip or news. Nick’s absence, his silence is all the news you need.


©S. Darlington

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