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He taught her to play that leaf-front girl guitar I bought her that summer before her world started falling apart. The way she took to that instrument made ducks question the depth of their relationship with water. After that first lesson, she wrote her first song. Others quickly followed.

Franklin turned out to become one of the few unconditionally positive influences in The Grand Otter's life then, for he taught her to open up just when the world seemed to insist that she just had to shut down or die. At fourteen-going-on-twenty-three, she could arrogantly ignore almost any good advice, but Franklin, side-stepping the usual defense mechanisms, invited her to open up no more than that girl guitar insisted. Girl guitars carry an insistence all their own.

True magic always hides in discovering what we never before suspected we already knew how to do. Her fingers squawked plenty those first few days, unaccustomed as they were with holding down those metal strings, but like any true artist, Sara could not quite notice what others would insist was pain. She was too busy, too immersed in expressing herself to notice.

Franklin and I met by accident. We were both trying to hide from a forced networking opportunity during a break at a TED Talk, when we both washed up behind a pile of stored tables and chairs and connected there. After that, we met weekly in my living room until he moved to Colorado. We followed behind four years later, and now we've resumed the weekly meetings. This time, Sara comes along.

The premise of our meeting doesn't matter. It's only partly false, but must be positively declared anyway. He's reassuring me as I pull my next book out of the ether, though neither of us believe that's the real reason we meet. We meet because the universe demands it, like it commanded us to first connect while hiding ourselves where we thought we would remain safe from connecting with anyone. The outcome could not possibly matter more than the necessity of that connecting.

The Otter comes along, even rising early to impatiently wait as The Muse and I rush to prepare. The road over there, across the upper reaches of the sadly suburbanizing Rocky Flat drainage, more Kansas than Colorado, fails to flummox either of us. My side-kick's riding shotgun and the conversation flows easily again. She cannot decide what to order once we arrive at the unlikely French bistro, though she consents to help me with my apple puff pastry and dispose of half of Franklin's French breakfast paninni.

Franklin and I begin the dialogue after administering the heartfelt hugs, and as usual, like always, Sara's right there in the middle of what she might not be reasonably expected to understand. She understands. She's unsurprisingly wrestling with exactly what we're wrestling with. Maybe we're each each other's allegory, perfectly representing whatever's really going on in there. Meaning emerges as needed, significance presumed, insight always optional, more a matter of personal choice than imperative necessity; rather like being introduced to a guitar capable of expressing what no mere voice could ever muster alone. We make some wonderful music together.

Too soon, the long hour evaporates and it's time to go. Reconnected again, batteries recharged, we can safely disconnect and head back out to spark some more in that sometimes dangerously indifferent world. We have made a definite difference.

Perhaps you noticed a disturbance in the Force between ten and eleven MDT yesterday morning. That was just three people apparently just chatting over coffee and a bun, but wondering so intensely that the universe couldn't help but start singing, as it always seems to need to whenever Franklin's involved.

©2016 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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