I love creating scenes and stories, but Inspiration has an odd sense of timing. Ideas usually seem to come while I am already in bed, the lights are off, and the computer has been shut down. It was during one of these times when this scene came to me. I was able to remember it the next morning, mull it over a bit, and finally write it down (with some modification). I’m quite pleased, actually. Not many of my late night snippets come this far.
I couldn’t hear the song at first. I suspect it had been sung for some time before I noticed it. The notes were dim, barely comprehensible, but once I turned my attention to the song it became clearer, as did my mind. My small world began to change, and I remembered colour. Each note evoked something different, from misty green to passionate gold.
Colour and song swelled to engulf me, and I became aware of my own form. Up until then, I’d forgotten I had one. There was a warmth in the song as it washed over me, around me, and finally through me. I could feel it seeping into muscle, bone, and vein. But as it infused me, the power increased. The colours rolled like storm clouds, the heat rose, and the song thundered until every nerve it touched trembled. Then it all flooded into my core. I could feel the rise of the crescendo, the burst of white flame. My heart, unable to hold such power, shattered.
I felt myself as a thousand pieces, bright from the heat of the forge, reconnected by the throbbing beat of hammer and anvil. When I thought I couldn’t endure another moment of it, I heard the song again. This time it was distinctly above me, in an elder’s quavering voice.
The colours were gone, and I was back to my world of empty black. But I now knew that I had a body, and it seemed as if I was lying on something flat. From some place vaguely at my left I heard a woman’s gasp above the low rhythm of the song.
“I think he’s waking up! It’s working! Krejyan! Can you hear me; can you open your eyes?”
I realised that my eyes had been shut all this time. But it was as if I had forgotten how to open them again. My first attempt lasted only a few seconds, and all I could see was a mesh of brown hues that may have been a room of earthen bricks, and the occasional flash of white that may have been windows. I fought to open my eyes again, and this time looked directly ahead. My vision was still bleary, but I could make out a figure standing over me, resting both her small and wrinkled hands on my head. It was she who sang. But my eyelids had become strangely heavy, and it was a long time before I could part them again. This time I found I could keep my eyes open, and somewhat focused. At that moment, the song ended. The final note was broken by a shaking sob, and the singer fell back into a waiting chair. She held her head in her hands, fingers digging into the grey hair, and her tiny frame shook. She still felt the potency of the song.
I looked toward the speaker at my left. The red dust that streaked across her face barely hid the tired lines and the shadows under her eyes. But there was a vivid energy that set her face aglow as she smiled.
“Krejyan!” She cried, leaning forward and taking my hand in both of hers. The fingers were rough, burned like mine were. I felt that somehow I should know her. There seemed a certain relevance to the pale starburst scar that showed through the torn fabric tied over her shoulder. The dried flower, crisp white, which was fixed into the weave of her dark braids, also seemed important somehow. The joyful light in her face was starting to dim, concern taking its place.
“I was beginning to be afraid I didn’t make it in time. Don’t worry, this is a safe spot, and I made sure no-one could follow us. I know where the others are, we can meet as soon as you recover.”
She looked at me like she was expecting me to reply. For the longest time, I could do nothing but stare back at her, trying to make sense of what she said. I tried to speak, but there were too many questions I wanted to ask. The words came out dry and unsteady on my tongue.
“Wh…why are we hidden? Who are… t-the others?”
The woman’s concerned frown deepened. She held her breath as she leaned closer, as if searching. The singer looked up, her cheeks glistening with tears. She watched us in tentative silence.
“Krejyan…” The younger woman began, but then paused. There was something in the word that stirred me. Maybe it was almost recognition. Maybe it was the way she said it.
“…you keep saying that word…like it’s a name…Is it mine?” I asked.
Her face became blank, save for the pained look in her eyes. Then, slowly, she released one hand to reach up and finger the flower in her hair.
“That’s what you told me. You don’t remember? Do you remember what happened at the crossroads?”
“I…I don’t…I can’t….”
“Do you remember this?” She touched the starburst scar on her shoulder. When I didn’t reply, she dropped her gaze. But her hold on my hand grew tighter.
“Perhaps it’s for the best.” She said, almost as if to herself.