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Lakewood Times

“Music to Fill the Space”

Deja Vu Story

Little Miss Strange by Jimi Hendrix was playing on the car radio. Wes and I were sitting in the front, windows at the bottom, drinking the sugar-sweet summer breeze. There were a few other cars around, two or three parking spots out from us. The owners were probably somewhere in the field, lying on a picnic blanket and eating chocolate covered strawberries. 

“Do you think Jimi Hendrix liked summer better than the other seasons?” Wes asked randomly. 

I laughed. “That’s random.” The trees stirred. “I think he was doing too many drugs to care about the seasons.” Wes put his elbow on the window and laid down his head. I watched the wind toss his hair back and forth like the flowing and ebbing of a wave. 

Hours later, he turned on the car and we drove out of the valley. Birds whistled and clicked, serenading the drive. Every day since my sister had died, Wes drove me down into the valley. Every day, we left and he dropped me off back home. Every day, I think he was trying to get me out of her room and keep me distracted. Sometimes it worked. It was nice to have company. 

But when I got home, I went straight to her room. I’d been in here for a week straight, almost. I slept in here, in her unchanged sheets. I made food in the kitchen and brought it in here, rewinding her tapes and putting them into the little TV across from the loveseat. She had lots of recorded MTV videos and songs and random shows. I was going through all of them. And when I wasn’t eating, I put her vinyls on and read the books on her shelf. 

I sat down on the end of the bed, putting a pillow between my back and the wall. The record player was right next to me, but I’d left the record—Surfin’ USA by the Beach Boys—and it had finished. I reached over and set it free, slipping it back into the papery cover. The next record in her stack was Electric Ladyland by Jimi Hendrix. 

I smiled a little bit. 

The needle pressed into the edge of the record, settling into the very first groove. The first track, And The Gods Made Love, began to play. 

The ground was cold, but the edges of the grass were heated by sunlight. It was like a microwaved meal where the warmth didn’t quite make it to the center. Loud wind stirred the grass against my bare legs. It was bright out—sun dove through the trees in sectioned pieces. Hendrix’s guitar was muffled somewhere inside the house. 

I hugged my knees. Lina never let me inside her room. She said it was a ‘little sister-free zone.’ I wasn’t cool enough to listen to her music and look at her posters. That’s just a normal thing that siblings do, though. She was a good sister, but she was a big sister. 

But I don’t remember hearing this record before. Not on any sunny afternoon in the grass. But it still felt familiar, like it had happened. Maybe it did and I just didn’t remember. Everything reminded me of Lina these days. 

Her room walls were covered in band posters, music I’d only ever listened to from outside her door. Staring at these odd groups of people, I tried to imagine her putting each one up, holding the roll of tape in her mouth and securing it to the wall. It was hard to do, somewhat. This week was the most I’d ever been in here. 

Eventually, Little Miss Strange played and I thought of Wes and the valley. There were so many memories of Lina and Wes spinning in my head. The sweetened wind rustling the trees, the hard-shelled sun, the cool earth pressing back against your feet and your body. There was nothing specific; it was just the feeling. I’d been to places before where I’d experienced it. With Wes and with Lina. In the valley, in the backyard, in the grass and the trees.

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