They sat in Adirondack chairs away from the illumination of the back patio light, their faces covered in faint shadows. The firepit nearby threw orange glints of color across their faces as the breeze passed over them. They didn’t need to see one another to know that each of them had a half-revealed smile dancing across their lips.
For an hour they’d sat, bantering like every word needed to be uttered before the moon faded. He playfully strummed the banjo nestled across his knees, the notes elicited both discordant and comforting. Every once in a while, his fingers seemed to accidentally hit a lyrical chord. The banjo was a prank as well as a talisman for them, a joke that was taken so far that he had dared surprise her with one for her birthday.
They spoke simultaneously, the tumult of both extemporaneous and considered words tumbling from their respective lips. “You go first,” they said in unison, then laughed.
As their laughter faded, a young voice yelled from the confines of the house, “Geez, knock it off already! It’s time for bed.”
They looked at each other and snickered.
He picked up the banjo and pretended that he was going to play it.
And then his fingers melded with the banjo, his left hand structuring a chord.
“Surprise,” he whispered. “You have to make something new and surprising each day.”
As she watched in amazement, he played “Colour My World” by Chicago, a song she had not appreciated until that moment. He sang the few words contained in the song, his voice cracking with emotion. His voice was not trained, though his heart echoed in every enunciated syllable. Her mouth opened wide and in shock. Something broke inside her and the laughter transposed into warmth, an ocean of feeling. She closed her eyes and swayed, a smile playing across her face.
He let his fingers strum the melody one more time, a coda of promise, regret, and longing. He knew that the melody had somehow conveyed the optimism that filled him. The firepit cracked and spit sparks as the song faded.
He stood up and reached for her hand. Their fingers intertwined as they walked toward the house.
The world was indeed full of colors. And banjos.
P.S. I hope each of you has a metaphorical banjo, and someone who shares both laughter and their presence with you.