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Rockin' the Clock - Dried Lemon #4

Rubbing her hands together as if she was about to see her last lottery number drop, Zoe was unfolding the neatly folded piece of paper before the music sheets could land around her. What could it be? Thoughts were rushing through her head... is it from Dad? Did he buy the guitar new? Why did the plush recede? Why am I so nervous? Treating the paper as if it was an ancient treasure map, she unceremoniously backhanded the music biographies from her nightstand and laid it down as if it was the declaration of independence.

Jimi didn't seem offended, staring back up at her upside down. Taking a deep breath, she wasn't sure if she should laugh, cry or scream. Could it be a goodbye note explaining why he had to disappear into the nothingness? Was it a shopping list? Zoe was almost paralyzed by anticipation, trying to downplay the moment to minimise the potential fall out of unmet expectations. "You'll want to sit down for this..." said someone. Turning to the door, she saw Dimple. "Did you just say something, Dimp?", she uttered now torn between the secret scrawl and the possibility of a talking cat.

She often wished Dimple could speak... or at least have thought bubbles like her mom's favourite cartoon strip, Garfield. He was ginger enough but was he fat enough? The thought dissolved as Dimple winked at her. "Seriously cat... the poker face?" she managed, now returning to the paper. Sitting down, whether acknowledging an inner voice or her fluffy, she was now distracted enough to just get on with it. Her Dad obviously had a sense of humour because he'd take the time to yellow the paper with a teabag to give it that treasure map feel. Just short of burning the edges of the paper with a candle, he'd gone all the way... writing a few lines of what looked like an ancient text. It wasn't Klingon because she could read it but the inscription was just legible.

"Read... between... the lines", Zoe stammered. Turning the "map" over expecting to see more, she flicked her blue hair back, bemused and irritated by the cryptic clue saying "Oh boy, now you've done it... Dad." whilst exhaling. It was a definite anti-climax after the build-up and echoing his words again through her head, she wondered what on earth he was talking about. Lines... did he mean the fret board?

Scrabbling over to the guitar case, she dragged her fingers between the guitar strings hoping to find another clever clue. Half-expecting to feel something written in Morse or braille, her face dropped as she came up with nothing. Letting out a yawn, Dimple jumped up on the nightstand where the paper was lying. Rubbing up against the corner of the table, it seemed like he was beckoning her. Heeding the call, Zoe trudged over to alleviate Dimple's permanently itchy ear.

"Ahhhh, the yellowed paper..." she whispered, looking for some acknowledgement from her feline companion. He was either playing it cool or the voice had just been an extension of her already vivid imagination. He had definitely winked at her, which was more of a coincidence but now that he'd summoned her it felt like he knew what he was doing. Gathering her thoughts, she remembered how her Mom had helped her with a science project involving lemon juice. Mixing lemon juice with a bit of water, they'd been able to use an earbud to write messages on a piece of paper. Now holding the scrawl up gently to draw heat from the lamp, she had cracked the code! Between her father's print, the lemon juice had oxidised and turned brown enabling her to see a neatly drawn inscription.

Her smile turned to mush as the bitterness of the lemon juice seemed to sink into her fingers. Her father's last words to her would forever be "read between the lines" as staring back at her she discovered a string of musical notes. Almost wanting to ball up the paper, she felt like she'd been had. Slumping to the floor among the music sheets, she was crushed. Seconds felt like minutes as she stared blankly at Dimple. What sort of father would punk his own daughter? Dragging herself out of the funk, she tried to take another look. Obviously he had meant for her to find the message - why was it just a few choice riffs?

Earlier that year she wouldn't have been able to decipher the music... now picking herself up, she looked to her trusty Stratocaster with a renewed sense of hope.