Lest We Forget

Fiction story

I watch her hands pluck away on her acoustic guitar effortlessly, creating a beautiful melody that sounds both new and familiar. I never expected to see her again, but I recognize her as soon as she takes the stage. She has a face you don't forget.

Maddie King. 

I knew I’d never forget her the moment she walked into my office for a consultation a few years ago, her face and body covered in scars and bruises from a car accident. Today, she’s as flawless as her voice. All her scars are a distant memory. 

I take no credit for her recovery though. My body cringes as I recall the day I told Maddie and her fiancé she’d never play again. The day they stood in my office and pleaded with me to take on her case. I turned them away. Referred them to a different surgeon to do what I deemed as impossible and a complete waste of my time. I believed her injury had caused permanent damage that would prevent her from using her right hand. Apparently someone else disregarded my diagnosis and assumption that she’d never regain her strength. Another physician saw it differently and gave them the one thing I never did. Hope. 

Maddie and her fiancé were a popular local duo back then. But tonight, she plays solo and commands the stage on her own. Her eyes scan the room until they land on a man toward the front of the lounge. He’s not the fiancé I met in my office that day. He's someone new. She flashes him a lovely smile. The kind you only give to someone you truly care about.  

I settle back in my chair, ignoring the impatient glances my semi-girlfriend throws my way as Maddie’s voice fills the room. Her deep, sultry sound surprises me. At some point Maddie's eyes meet mine, and I wonder if she remembers me. She doesn’t frown or smile. She’s doesn’t even blink. She just stares. I want to look away but I can’t. I’m overwhelmed with the strongest urge to tell her I’m sorry I got it wrong. To admit my faults to this beautiful stranger I barely know.  

She breaks eye contact first and moves on to another song. One of my favorites. I open my mouth to sing along to a tune I know so well. Her eyes find mine again somewhere between the hook and the chorus. Captivates me completely. And suddenly, I don’t remember those words anymore.