Jen Air: Asterion – B-Naturals

Or, why Kay is never able to hold down a job, an extract from the novel I’m currently writing, sequel to The Little Queen etc.  By the end of this novel Kaya will start actually facing her problems, but at this point she’s still having issues.  As usual it’s an early draft and subject to change and editing, but feel free to comment or send me feedback if you want:

B-Naturals was a musical instrument store that Kaya once had an extremely brief career working in.  She had a brief career in lots of little stores, back when she had to take on any job she could get to scrape by.  Anything to avoid going back where she’d been.  She’d blown all her careers in a very short time, but today at least she returned under the powder blue sign not as someone desperate for cash but as a customer.

While Sayuri went to talk about putting some sort of advertisement up on the notice board, Kaya of course went to the guitars.  She had always played guitar, ever since she was a toddler and had a little micro one, practically a ukulele.  Her fingers would slide over the neck, she closed her eyes, plucked the strings, felt the vibration, and just let it take her far, far away.  But then so often something dragged her back.  On this occasion it some balding middle aged guy with a chubby kid stood next to him.

“Hey,” he yelled, waving to get her attention even though he was just inches away from her.  “Are you helping anyone?”

Kaya blinked and looked strangely, until finally all of her mind had returned.  “Oh, I-I don’t…”

But he wouldn’t let her explain.  Maybe he’d seen her working in here in the brief time she had, but in any case had obviously made his mind up that she was there to serve him.  “I’m looking to buy a guitar.”

“Uh-huh,” Kay nodded, glancing sideways to where a few dozen guitars of various shapes and colours hung on the wall.  “I’d say you’re in the right place.”

“Good,” he said, seemingly immune to sarcasm.  “I’m looking for a guitar for my boy here.  He saw that Kirk Colburn or something and wants to learn to play.”

Kay squinted through one eye as her mouth contorted into a strange M.  But… fine.  She supposed it wouldn’t cost her anything to help a little.  So she took her breath, put the guitar she had been playing back on its stand and made a sweeping gesture to the corner of the store.  “Beginner guitars are over here,” she said.

The man and his boy in the stripy tee hobbled over with her, the older man leaning over and peering at the price tags.  Both man and boy seemed a little underwhelmed and unimpressed.  “A little on the cheap side,” the man commented.

“Well, they are for beginners.  Look after and keep it in tune though, and it’ll last you a while.”

But despite having practiced her sales pitch for a couple of days a little while ago, she found herself ignored.  The kid pointed across to a display in the middle of the store, asking, “what about that one?”

‘That one’ was, truly, a beautiful guitar, with a red/black gradient and, she knew from having played it once before, a sound like a jet plane to heaven.  It was beautiful.  A good guitar.  It was way too good for this brat who wouldn’t be able to give it the love and care it needed.

“Yeah, look,” she cautioned, “you’re just starting out, so…”

The man interrupted, “I want him to have the best.”

“Yeah, well, I don’t want to sell you that guitar.”

“Why not?” The man said, perplexed by her attitude.  “This is a store, isn’t it?  And money’s no object to me.”

“It’s not about the money,” Kaya wearily shook her head.  “It’s just… you don’t deserve it, okay? That guitar is way too good for the likes of you.”

“But I want it!” The boy puffed.

Kaya knelt and beckoned him close, imploring him, “look, why are doing this kid?  Do you think it’ll make you look cool?  You think girls will like you?  These are musical instruments, not magic miracle wands…”

“Hey!” The dad snapped.  “You can’t talk to him like that!”

Of course, she could and she had.  But although her patience was wearing thin, she got up and took him aside.  “Listen, pal, I’m doing you a favour here.  You really want to spend that much on something he’s maybe just gonna play with a few days and then give up when he realises he doesn’t already sound like Hendrix?”

The man bit his lip, then slowly nodded as the wisdom of her words sank in.  It looked like they were going to get out of this without there being any serious casualties.  But then, the boy had to speak again.

“What’s a Hendrix?” He asked.

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