Illustration by Max Sharikov

I can’t remember what I was doing earlier, but I stopped when I saw a skeleton with a guitar. He was seated next to a Tim Horton’s cup overflowing with pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. I checked my pocket. There was a sufficient amount of change, so I asked, “What do you play?”

“The last song you will ever hear,” said the skeleton with the guitar.

I understood the words to be a warning, but I wanted to hear the song anyway. How could I pass on the skeleton’s offer, to play the last song I will ever hear? I would forever regret it, forever wonder what the last song would sound like. It’s possible that I’m being impatient, that I would hear the last song eventually, that I would hear it in the last moment of my life. There’s a lot to hear that I haven’t heard. Hearing this song means that I will never again hear the soothing voice of some of my favourite artists. What if they create new songs?

No matter how much I tried to talk myself out of it, I couldn’t walk away from that skeleton. I fished some change out of my pocket and threw it in the Tim Horton’s cup. The skeleton looked down, reached for the cup and upturned it over his mouth, drinking the change. I heard the clatter of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters on the skeleton’s ribcage; it was a song unto itself.

And then the skeleton raised his guitar, raised his bony hand, and began to play…

His playing was awful! The worst I had ever heard! It sounded like a hamster in a blender, like Velcro rubbed against a chalkboard, like church sermons… I couldn’t stand it any longer!

I tore out my ears, insuring that I didn’t hear another note of the skeleton’s song… or any other song, for that matter.

“I told you it would be the last song you ever hear,” said the skeleton.

But I didn’t hear it.