Timothy Boudreau

Boom Box

If you were her mom and dad when she was little, she played a Sesame Street eight-track, “C is for Cookie,” “I Love Trash,” pleaded with you to sing along. As a teenager she slipped in your favorite cassette, Dick Clark’s Golden Favorites, made a joke but still danced with you both during “Peppermint Twist.”

If you were her first boyfriend, she chose a Grateful Dead bootleg while you sparked up the good stuff. Later in bed she put on Neil Young, lowered the volume so you’d cradle her in your lap, tip your ear to her speaker, listen carefully to 3AM love song lyrics, Let’s run away to Sugar Mountain.

If you were her college friends, upbeat was best, blasted beats to fill parking lots and dorm basements. Ace of Base, Def Leppard, music for dancing, screwing, for not thinking at all. When everyone passed out, she turned off the music, slipped into a corner of a couch, into the backseat of a car.

If you were her husband in the early years of your marriage, her selections aligned her inner world with yours: a Putumayo compilation, an indie folk artist. You kissed her forehead, though she hoped you’d choose her lips. “Isn’t this great, they recommended it on NPR,” you told her, but of course she already knew.

If you’re her daughter, she beckons for an extra hug before you leave for school, her eyes puffy, her hair streaked with silver; she cranks up BTS months after you’ve moved to other bands. You’re too young to marvel that even if she fumbles for the right music, she always plays something. You don’t point out that the knobs are chipped, the antenna bent, speakers scratched. It would hurt her feelings to tell her it’s antiquated technology, everyone has earbuds, we can stream anything now.

Timothy Boudreau

Timothy Boudreau lives and works in northern New Hampshire. His recent work appears in The Citron Review, Trampset, and MonkeyBicycle, and has been nominated for Best of the Net, Best Microfiction and a Pushcart Prize. His collection Saturday Night and other Short Stories is available through Hobblebush Books. Find him on Twitter at @tcboudreau or at timothyboudreau.com.