The Guitar

NARRATOR: When the war was over, and our family was again reunited, those of us who had been away had to go through the difficult adjustment of leaving the battlefields behind and picking up our lives where we had left off. For my brother Jason, this proved especially challenging. It was a painful time in his life that led us all to a deeper appreciation of those things about him we had long taken for granted, especially his ability to fill our home with music.

In the kitchen. There is much hustle and bustle.

OLIVIA: Erin, you almost finished with that cobbler? I need your help getting supper on the table before we leave to meet the bus.

ERIN: Almost done, Mama. I hope he still likes cherry cobbler the best.

OLIVIA: I'm sure he does. Elizabeth, did you finish dusting in there? Make sure that piano is polished shiny.

ELIZABETH: It's so shiny I can see myself, Mama.

Olivia walks over to piano and sits down. She plays a few keys. John comes in the front door.

JOHN: You takin' up the piano?

OLIVIA: It'll be nice to have music in this house again. I never knew how much I would miss it until it was gone. I used to lie awake at night, remembering all the times I scolded him for playing instead of doing his chores.

JOHN: Soon he'll fill up this house with piano playin' and the guitar and harmonica, just like he used to.

ELIZABETH: And singin'. No one starts a song like Jason.

JOHN: That's right, honey. I guess we'll have us a grand sing tonight.

Jim-Bob, Ben, and Cindy enter the room. Cindy is holding Virginia.

BEN: We better go, Daddy. The bus might be early.

JIM-BOB: Who's going to ride in my car with me?

ERIN: Not me. It might break down on the way, and I want to be there when Jason is.

BEN: I will, Jim-Bob. Maybe Jason will ride back with us. It might remind him of those rickety old army jeeps.

They all go out the door.

Later, at the bus stop. The bus pulls up and after several passengers, Jason gets off carrying an army duffel bag and wearing his army uniform. He is mobbed by his family. There is much hugging and kissing and crying.

That evening, at the dinner table.

OLIVIA: I'd like to say the blessing tonight. I've waited a long time for this.

They all join hands.

OLIVIA: Thank you, Lord, for watching over this family and its sons, for keeping them safe from harm and returning them to their loved ones.

ALL: Amen.

ELIZABETH: Why did you take off your uniform, Jason?

ERIN: You sure looked handsome in it.

BEN: That's what she says to all the boys she sees in a uniform.

JASON: I figure I'm a civilian now. I don't reckon I'll ever wear it again.

OLIVIA: I hope to never see any of my sons in uniform again.

CINDY: I wasn't sorry when Ben put his away. It's good to have you back home, Jason.

JASON: It's great to be here. But I sure wish Mary Ellen and John Curtis were here. And Grandma.

OLIVIA: Mary Ellen never would have taken Grandma visiting friends in Richmond if she had known you were coming. We didn't expect you home so soon.

JASON: I thought I'd stay over there for a few more weeks, myself. But everything happened so fast at the end, and they didn't need so many of us to stay as they had thought. I sure was surprised to see both Ben and Jim-Bob here.

ERIN: You came close to seeing John Boy, too. He came home last month before he went back to New York. He's going to be sorry he missed you.

OLIVIA: Someday this entire family will sit down at this table again. But for now, I feel truly blessed.

JASON: I've been looking forward to a meal like this for longer than I can remember. It tastes even better than I imagined it.

OLIVIA: Well, you just enjoy it and have your fill. Erin made a cherry cobbler for dessert.

JASON: Not only pretty, but cooks, too. When is someone going to snatch you up, Erin?

BEN: She has so many beaus around here, now that all our friends are home, that you need a scorecard to keep up with which ones are courtin' her.

ELIZABETH: And the ones she doesn't want, she says I can have.

JASON: Elizabeth, you're growin' up so fast. I guess you're not as little as when I left.

He reaches to stroke her hair.

JASON: I miss those pigtails, though.

ELIZABETH: Oh, Jason. Those are for little girls. I'm a young lady now.

OLIVIA: Well, young lady, you help your sister clear this table and get the dessert on.

Later that night, in the living room.

Jason looks around, touching things, and sits down on the couch. Olivia sits down next to him and puts her arm around him.

OLIVIA: Does it look the same?

JASON: Just the same, Mama. There were so many times when this room brought me comfort. Picturing it exactly, picturing all of you in it.

JOHN: Well, you're home now, son. No need to picture it anymore.

JASON: No, I guess not.

Elizabeth tugs on his arm.

ELIZABETH: Come see the piano, Jason. It's all polished up, and we just had it tuned, too.

JIM-BOB: Play some of the songs they played over there, Jason.

BEN: Yeah. Like that one they played on the radio all the time, the one that entertainer lady always sang to the American troops. You know.

JASON: Maybe later.

CINDY: Play something on your guitar then. I've been telling Virginia you'd play something for her.

ERIN: Where is your guitar? I didn't see you bring it off the bus.

JASON: I didn't.

BEN: Well, where is it?

JASON: I don't have it anymore.

JIM-BOB: Boy, I was sure that no matter what, you'd come back with that guitar.

JASON: Well, I didn't.

ELIZABETH: Can't you play just one song on the piano? How about "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree"?

JASON: I said no.

ELIZABETH: Just sing it, then.

JASON: Elizabeth, quit pestering me. I said no, and I mean no!

The family looks at each other uncomfortably.

JOHN: Your brother's had a long day. Let's all say good night and let him get a good night's sleep.

JASON: Thanks, Daddy. I am pretty tired.

JOHN: Night, son. It's good to have you home.

JASON: Night, Daddy.

He hugs him.

JASON: Night, Mama.

Jason goes and hugs Elizabeth.

JASON: I'm sorry I snapped at you. I'm tired, I guess.

ELIZABETH: It's okay. I'm just glad you're home.

JASON: Good night, Elizabeth. Night, everybody.

The next day. John, Jason, and Ben are in the mill. Ben is in the background, Jason and John in the foreground.

JASON: It feels good to be doing this kind of work again.

JOHN: It's nice to have you here, son. But I kind of thought you'd want to spend today seeing your friends. Some boys from your band have been pestering me, wanting to know when you'd be back. And folks from the Dewdrop ask me about you.

JASON: Daddy, I've been thinking. I don't want to play at the Dewdrop any more. I know I'm not the kind of worker Ben is at this. But I'll try my hardest and you and Ben can teach me what I need to know. I want to work in the mill.

JOHN: This is kind of sudden, isn't it? You never much liked it here. I remember a time when you and me went around about this, me wanting this for you, and you wanting something else.

JASON: I remember.

JOHN: It seems to me you've worked awful hard to get away from this.

JASON: Are you saying you don't want me here?

JOHN: No, Jason. I'm not saying that at all. I'd be happy to have you here; you know that. But what I've always wanted most for you is what will make you happy. Are you sure this is it? What about your music? Will you have time for that if you work here?

JASON: Daddy. I don't want them both. I don't need the music. I need a job. I want this job.

JOHN: Okay. We'll try it for a while. But if you change your mind...

JASON: I won't. Thanks, Daddy.

That night. The house is dark.

Jason is in his bed. He tosses and turns in his sleep and moans softly. He suddenly screams, loud and long. Jim-Bob rushes to Jason's bed and bends over him. Jason grabs him and pushes him to the floor, then jumps on top of him. By this time rest of family is in the room. John pulls Jason off Jim-Bob. John wraps his arms around Jason, who struggles to be free. John speaks to Jim-Bob.

JOHN: You all right?

Jim-Bob rubs his elbow.

JIM-BOB: I think so.

John leads Jason to his bed and pushes him to sit. Jason has stopped struggling.

ELIZABETH: Is Jason okay?

JOHN: He just had a bad dream. He's fine now. You all go back to bed now.

Jason looks up and around.

JASON: Daddy? What are you doing here? What happened?

JIM-BOB: You had a nightmare. First you screamed real loud, and then when I came to your bed, you grabbed me and...

OLIVIA: That will be enough out of you. Back in bed now.

Jason gets up and goes to Jim-Bob.

JASON: I'm so sorry, Jim-Bob. Are you all right?

JIM-BOB: I'm okay. Really, Jason. I'm fine.

JASON: I'm sorry that happened. If I do that again, I guess you better just stay clear.

JIM-BOB: Don't worry. I will.

Jason goes back and sits on his bed. John and Olivia sit on either side of him.

JOHN: That must have been some dream. Do you want to talk about it?

Jason shakes his head.

JASON: I'm sorry I scared you. I have them sometimes. Dreams, I mean. I guess I thought I wouldn't have them here. I thought once I was home...I'm sorry.

OLIVIA: No need to be sorry. Can I get you anything?

JASON: No. Mama. Mama, I know I'm not a child. But, Mama...Mama, maybe you could...Could you stay here a while?

OLIVIA: Shh. You just lie down. I'll stay here as long as you need me.

Later, in John and Olivia's room. Olivia gets into bed beside John.

JOHN: Is he asleep?

OLIVIA: For now. But he sure is tossing and turning. I'm afraid for him, John. Did you see him in there? I truly believe he was trying to hurt Jim-Bob.

JOHN: Now, Liv. He had a dream. That's all.

OLIVIA: What could he be dreaming that would make him do that?

JOHN: Things you can't imagine, Liv. Things you don't want to imagine. Men see things in wars that give them nightmares for years.

OLIVIA: I'd give anything if he could have been spared that.

JOHN: I know. I would too. But we can't go backward, honey. We can only go forward.

OLIVIA: What can we do?

JOHN: Just be here for him when he needs us.

OLIVIA: There's a part of him that I don't know anymore. That I'll never know.

JOHN: I know. Good night, Livvie.

Several days later. The family is getting ready for church, and Jason comes downstairs in his work clothes.

OLIVIA: Aren't you coming to church?

JASON: No, Mama. There's some work I want to finish up in the mill.

OLIVIA: It will be there when you get back. Everyone's looking forward to seeing you, Jason. Ike and Cora Beth, the Baldwin sisters. They'll all be there expecting you. And that old organ's waiting, too. We haven't had a decent organ player since you went away. Now I've told everyone you'll play this Sunday, so go change your clothes and get a move on.

JASON: You shouldn't have done that, Mama.

OLIVIA: Done what?

JASON: Told everyone I'd play the organ. You'll just have to tell them that I won't.

OLIVIA: Jason. Why are you being stubborn? We're all looking forward to...

JASON: I said no, Mama. And next time you want me to do something, you'd better ask me first.

OLIVIA: Jason! What's gotten into you talking to me that way?

JASON: I'm sorry, Mama. I shouldn't have said that. But I'm not playing that organ. And I'm not going to go to church and have everyone pester me to play it.

He leaves the room and goes out to the mill where John is working.

JOHN: I thought you'd be in church this morning.

JASON: No, Daddy. I'd rather work out here.

JOHN: Well, I'm happy for the company. Any particular reason you don't want to go to church?

JASON: No. Well, yes. I want to see everyone, but I don't want to be the organist anymore. And they'll all be after me to play.

JOHN: That doesn't sound so bad to me. You used to like it when people asked you to play.

JASON: I just don't feel up to it right now, Daddy.

JOHN: Well, I reckon you know what you want. Here, help me adjust this saw.

Later that day. The rest of the family returns from church, followed by the Baldwin sisters. They all get out of the cars. John and Jason go to greet them. Jason hugs and kisses the Baldwin sisters.

MISS MAMIE: We missed you in church, Jason. And Sister and I just couldn't wait to see you. Oh, how we've missed you. You were always such a favorite of ours, you know.

MISS EMILY: My, it is so good to see you, Jason. Your dear mother was kind enough to invite us to dinner, and we just couldn't say no. We were so anxious to see you again.

JASON: Well, I'm glad Mama asked you. It's nice to see you again, too. Come inside where we can visit.

In the living room, after dinner.

JOHN: If you'll excuse us, ladies, Ben and I have some things in the mill we want to finish up before dark.

CINDY: And I need to put this sleepy little girl down for her nap.

MISS EMILY: Certainly, dear. And you go on, John. We must never keep a man from his work.

Cindy carries Virginia outside and John and Ben follow.

MISS MAMIE: That was a delicious dinner, Olivia. The roast was cooked just the way Papa used to like it.

OLIVIA: I'm glad you enjoyed it.

MISS EMILY: Oh, we truly did. And only one thing would make this joyous day even more wonderful. Jason, would you play the piano for us? Sister and I have so missed your beautiful music. We have felt a loss in our lives since you have left that only your music can fill.

OLIVIA: I know just how you ladies feel. We've missed it around here, believe me. Jason?

JASON: It's nice of you to ask me, ladies. But I don't think so right now. I haven't had a chance to practice much, and I'm afraid I'm not as good as I used to be.

MISS MAMIE: We hardly believe that, Jason. But no matter. Just a little tune, then.

JASON: No. Really. It's been lovely seeing you, and I'll make sure to visit just as soon as I can. But we're pretty busy in the mill right now. In fact, I think I'll go out there now and finish up some things with Daddy. Good afternoon, ladies.

He leaves.

OLIVIA: I am sorry. But he has been awfully busy.

MISS MAMIE: Not at all, Olivia. We shouldn't have pressed the dear boy. We must be going, too. Come, Sister.

They leave.

JIM-BOB: Mama, have you heard Jason play anything since he's come home?

OLIVIA: No. Nothing. He always seems to find an excuse to avoid it.

ERIN: I sure do miss it.

ELIZABETH: Me, too. I think he misses his guitar. It's sort of funny to see him without it.

OLIVIA: He did carry it around, didn't he? I used to be so frustrated with him. It seemed like that thing was a part of his hands. Seemed like he could never just sit without strumming on it.

ELIZABETH: Maybe we could get him another one.

ERIN: I don't know, Elizabeth. They're awfully expensive. What do you think, Mama?

OLIVIA: I think your hearts are in the right places, girls, but I'm not sure a guitar will help your brother right now.

ELIZABETH: His birthday is next week. Can't we try, Mama? I could do chores for Cora Beth and Ike and I bet Ben and Cindy have some money saved up.

JIM-BOB: I've got a little I can put toward it.

ERIN: And I have some I've been saving. Can't we at least see how much it will cost?

OLIVIA: All right. See if Ben will take you into Charlottesville tomorrow.

JIM-BOB: I'll take you in my car.

OLIVIA: No, you won't. If Ben's free, you can go and see what you can find.

ELIZABETH: Thanks, Mama. I know it will make him feel better.

OLIVIA: I hope so, honey. But don't set your hopes on it.

ELIZABETH: Don't worry, Mama. I know it will.

The next day. John, Jason, and Ben are in the mill.

JOHN: We've been working awful hard, boys. What do you say we give this up for a while and go take a walk on the mountain? There's some timber I've been meaning to look at, see if it's ready to cut.

BEN: Thanks, Daddy, but I promised to take the girls into town.

JOHN: Jason?

JASON: Sure, Daddy. I've missed walking on the mountain with you. Let's do it.

On the mountain.

JOHN: Let's take a breather.

They sit on a fallen log.

JOHN: Jason, we haven't had a real talk since you've been back. Your mother and me have been kind of worried about you.

JASON: I'm fine, Daddy. I'm sorry about the dreams.

JOHN: I guess you saw some things over there you'd rather not remember.

JASON: If I could figure out a way not to remember them, I would.

JOHN: I saw some things like that myself, during the first war. I don't think there's a way not to remember. But, if it helps, I do know that time makes it better and you won't remember them so clear after a while. Or maybe it's that your life will become so full of other things, that this will get pushed far back in your mind.

JASON: Is that what happened for you?

JOHN: Yes. I had your mother, a new son. That's what became important.

JASON: I don't have anything important.

JOHN: I can't believe that. You know, I haven't heard you talk about Toni much since you've been back. You used to think she was pretty important. Has that changed?

JASON: No, I guess not. I want us to be together when she can get back here. If she still wants me.

JOHN: Any reason why she wouldn't?

Jason shrugs.

JOHN: And you have a family that loves you and cares about you.

JASON: I know, Daddy.

JOHN: And you have your music. That was always important to you.

John pulls a harmonica out of his pocket.

JOHN: Here. I found this a while back. It's your old one that you had when you were a little fellow. You used to play it all the time, on the way to school, in the barn.

JASON: I remember. Mama used to get mad at me.

JOHN: She wouldn't get mad at you if you played it now. Here. See if you can get a tune out of this old thing.

Jason takes it, holds it, and hands it back to John.

JASON: I can't, Daddy.

JOHN: I've never really understood what your music means to you, Jason, and you know that. But what I do understand is that it's a part of you. It seems like music has been a part of you since you were little, just barely walking. It seems to me, that whenever you had troubles, it always seemed to help you, the way writing helps John Boy or tinkering helps Jim-Bob.

JASON: It doesn't help anymore, Daddy.

JOHN: Can you turn your back on it? Your mother told me you wouldn't play for the Baldwin sisters and you said you won't play the organ in church any more. What about the band you started? What about all the work you went through to put yourself through that music conservatory? Jason, I don't understand how you can let that go.

JASON: Daddy, I just don't want it in my life anymore.

JOHN: I can't believe that, son.

JASON: Daddy, I don't want to be angry with you. But I know what I want. Please leave me alone about this. Don't ask me to play the piano. Don't bring fellows from the band over to see me. Don't tell me that folks at the Dewdrop want to hear me. And don't bring me harmonicas. Just leave me alone.

That night, in John and Olivia's room. They are getting ready for bed. John opens the closet and pulls out a guitar.

JOHN: What's this?

OLIVIA: The children got it for Jason's birthday.

JOHN: I'm not sure that's a good idea.

OLIVIA: I'm not, either, but I couldn't talk them out of it. Especially Elizabeth.

JOHN: He told me today he didn't want anything to do with music anymore.

OLIVIA: Oh, John, no.

JOHN: I wish he would just try. He's not going to be happy giving up his music and working in that mill.

OLIVIA: I remember a time when he had to convince you of that.

JOHN: Well, he convinced me. Now I don't know what to make of him.

OLIVIA: When our boys went off to war, I would pray that they would come back unharmed. I used to have nightmares of them lying on battlefields or hospitals beds, not whole. Jason's body is whole, but he still needs mending. I can't stand by and watch him give up his dreams. Music is all he's ever wanted and worked for. Whatever it is that's making him turn away from it has to do with things that happened to him while he was gone. John, I know he's not going to share those things with me, and Lord forgive me, I'm not sure I want him to. But maybe he will with you. Can't you get him to talk about it?

JOHN: You can't make people talk about things they're not ready to talk about, Liv. But one thing's for sure; he's running hard from something.

The next day. Elizabeth is at the piano. She is trying to play a song. Jason walks by.

JASON: Needs some work.

ELIZABETH: Why don't you help me?

JASON: Can't. I'm too busy.

ELIZABETH: Before you left, you promised me you'd give me piano lessons when you got back.

JASON: That was then. Things change.

ELIZABETH: You've changed.

JASON: Have I?

ELIZABETH: Yes. You used to never care about the mill. Now you're always there. And you always used to be after us to listen to you play. Now we want you to and you won't.

JASON: I told you; I'm busy.

ELIZABETH: Jason, how long will you be sad about what happened in the war?

JASON: I'm not sad, Elizabeth.

ELIZABETH: Yes, you are. Your eyes are sad. Not like they were before you left.

JASON: Elizabeth, I can't talk to you about this.

ELIZABETH: You used to play the guitar when you were sad.

JASON: I told you. I don't have a guitar anymore.

ELIZABETH: I know. What happened to it?

JASON: Don't you have something you need to be doing? Chores or something?

Several days later. Olivia and the girls are in the kitchen.

OLIVIA: Elizabeth, get those candles on the cake. He'll be here any minute. Erin, go get Ben and Jim-Bob and tell them to wash up. I told John to have Jason in from the mill at noon sharp.

ELIZABETH: Mama, I put this ribbon on the guitar. Doesn't it look pretty?

OLIVIA: It sure does, honey. Now remember, if he doesn't like the guitar, don't take it too hard. You did your best, and that's what matters.

ELIZABETH: Don't worry, Mama. He'll like it.

Ben and Jim-Bob come in and soon John and Jason come in.

FAMILY: Surprise!

JASON: What's all this?

ERIN: It's your birthday, silly.

JASON: Is it? I forgot. Isn't that strange?

CINDY: Well, we remembered and that's what's important. Now blow out those candles.

BEN: Don't forget to make a wish.

Jason blows out the candles.

ERIN: We only got you one present, but it's a great present. It was Elizabeth's idea. Elizabeth, go get it.

Elizabeth gets the guitar and holds it out to Jason.

BEN: Isn't it a beauty? It's second hand, but the man said it has a real good sound. Why don't you try it?

ERIN: We know it's not as pretty as your other one, but maybe you could use it until you find a better one.

JOHN: Don't you want to hear how it sounds, son?

Jason takes the guitar from Elizabeth and strokes the wood.

JASON: It's beautiful. I...I...don't know what to say.

He kisses Elizabeth.

JASON: Thank you.

ELIZABETH: I knew you'd like it. Now you can play with your band again and sing at the Dewdrop. Why don't you play something?

They watch him expectantly. Jason tunes the guitar.

He strums a chord, then stops. He puts the guitar down on the table and leaves the room. Elizabeth watches after him with tears in her eyes.

JOHN: Elizabeth, I'm sorry, honey.

He takes the guitar and leaves the room. Jason is outside, his head bowed against a tree. John puts a hand on his shoulder.

JOHN: Jason? You all right, son?

Jason shakes his head.

JASON: No, Daddy, I don't guess I am.

John guides him to the porch swing.

JOHN: Let's sit for a bit.

He hands him the guitar.

JOHN: You better take this. I might drop it or something.

Jason takes it from him and holds it tenderly. He begins to cry.

JASON: I'm sorry, Daddy. I don't like you to see me like this.

JOHN: It's nothing to be ashamed of. But I think you better talk about it.

JASON: I don't know how, Daddy.

JOHN: Why does the guitar make you sad?

JASON: I tried to keep my other guitar. There were times when I thought I'd lost it, thought I'd have to leave it behind. But I always managed to hold on to it. But finally...finally it didn't work out.

JOHN: What happened to it?

JASON: I broke it. Slammed it over and over against some rocks, until there was nothing left of it. Just splinters and wire.

JOHN: Why would you do that?

Jason shakes his head.

JASON: I can't talk about this. I can't do this, Daddy.

JOHN: Yes, you can. You're doing it. Why did you smash the guitar?

JASON: We had music all the time. The other boys liked to sing and I taught them some songs. We got to be real good. I played my guitar and harmonica. It helped me get through things. We were in some real heavy fighting, Daddy. I can't talk about it now, or describe it, but I saw some good friends die over there. But mostly they were people whose names I never knew. Sometimes, waiting with them for the ambulances, I would sing to them, because I didn't know what else to do. It helped me more than them, I guess. One night--it had been a real bad day; we lost a lot of men--one night I...Daddy, I can't tell you this.

JOHN: Jason, whatever it is, it has to help to let it out.

JASON: You don't understand. I can't tell you because you won't think of me the same anymore. And I don't know if I can deal with that right now.

JOHN: Jason, I love you. Nothing can change that. Not ever. All I want is to help you through this hurt. That's all any of us wants.

JASON: What I tell you, you won't tell anyone? Not Mama, not anyone.

JOHN: Okay. It's between us. Jason, I don't think who knows what you have to say is important. I think you just need to say it. There had been heavy fighting one day and that night...

JASON: That night, I felt like I couldn't do it anymore. I had lost my best friend that day. You know, the friend that always keeps you going, the one that you're sure is going to come out of it all right.

JOHN: I know.

JASON: Well, he didn't come out of it. Lots of them didn't. We had been having night raids. We were supposed to stay in the bunker, not make any noise. But I couldn't. I kept on seeing Mark--that was his name, Mark--and I wanted to feel closer to him, feel like he wasn't really gone. He was a musician too and the two of us wrote a song together. I wanted to play our song, sing it, but I couldn't in the bunker. So I took my guitar and snuck out, went quite aways where no one in the bunker would be able to hear me. And I played our song. While I was gone...

He stops and clutches the guitar and his shoulders shake.

JASON: Daddy...

John has his arm tight around Jason.

JOHN: It's all right. I have you. It's going to be all right. And while you were gone...

JASON: While I was gone they bombed the bunker. When I got back, there was no one left. Some of them I couldn't even identify.

JOHN: Jason, I'm sorry.

JASON: Daddy, don't you see? I wasn't killed because of my music, but my music killed them.

JOHN: That doesn't make any sense. How could you be responsible?

JASON: I gave away our position. I must have. We were ordered to be quiet. They must have heard me playing. That must be how they knew where we were.

JOHN: But, Jason, you said you went quite aways from the bunker.

JASON: I know, Daddy, but how can I be sure I wasn't responsible for those deaths? Eleven men, Daddy. How can I be sure?

JOHN: I guess you can't. I guess that's something you'll have to learn to live with.

JASON: I can't. Don't you see that I can't?

JOHN: I see that you're punishing yourself. What good will it do you to give up your music? It won't bring them back.

JASON: I know that. That's not why I don't want it. It hurts too much, Daddy. It used to give me joy. Now it just hurts. I can't hear it or play it without reminding me of that night. I just can't have it in my life right now. I can't.

JOHN: I guess I understand that, son. But don't stay away from it so long that you lose it forever. I don't think you can live with that, either.

John leaves Jason on the porch and goes back into the house. He brushes his sleeve across his eyes and Olivia goes to him.

OLIVIA: John?

JOHN: He has a rough road to travel, Liv. I wish I could do it for him. It's so hard to see him hurt like this.

OLIVIA: I know. But you did your best.

ELIZABETH: Daddy, do you think he'll play the guitar?

JOHN: I think so, honey, but not today.

NARRATOR: My family will always remember those days following Jason's homecoming as a bittersweet time, filled with relief that the war was finally over, but also with sorrow that we could not ease the pain of someone we loved. It was many months after his return that Jason truly began to find his way back home.

The lights are out in the house and good nights are being said.

OLIVIA: Good night, Jim-Bob. Good night, Jason.

JIM-BOB: He's not here, Mama. He's out on the porch.

OLIVIA: John, do you think you should go to him?

JOHN: Listen.

Sounds of a guitar and a low voice come to them.

JIM-BOB: That sure is a sad song.

OLIVIA: No, Jim-Bob, that's the sweetest song I've ever heard.

ELIZABETH: I told you he'd like the guitar. Night, Mama.

OLIVIA: Good night, Elizabeth.

JOHN AND OLIVIA: Good night, Jason.


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