Don wasn’t sure if this was better than the garage and the chalkboards, which was what he was expecting when he got the call from his father. Charlie was curled around himself watching a record spin around the turntable. Don was surprised the thing even worked. Music came from the speakers the way he remembered it as a child, full of pops and hisses yet still beautiful.
He sat down next to Charlie. “Hey, buddy. What’s up?”
Charlie didn’t look away from the record. “Do you recognize this?”
“Sure. Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.”
Charlie nodded while Simon and Garfunkel harmonized about a sparrow. “It was Mom’s favorite.”
“She had it on cassette. She listed to it all the time when we were in Princeton. I’d come home from class and it would be on this little tape deck. She played it for something like two years before the tape broke.”
The song changed and Charlie broke, sobs suddenly falling freely.
Don rubbed his hand along Charlie’s back.
“I can’t remember her voice,” Charlie wailed. “I woke up this morning and I couldn’t remember what her voice sounded like. I just had this stupid record suck in my head!” Charlie knocked the arm away from the record and Don winced as the needle scraped against the vinyl.
Don pulled Charlie close, holding him tight, unsure what to say because just the week before he had frozen in the office trying to remember his mother’s laugh.
“What’s wrong with me, Don? I can multiply eight digit numbers in my head. I can recite pi out to almost 200 places but I can’t remember what she sounded like.”
Don wiped Charlie’s eyes with his sleeve like they were little again. “I don’t know what to say, buddy. I miss her too.”