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Card Challenge: Day 22

Card Day 22: A woman with the body of a cello plays a song. The music staff and played notes stretch from the body of the instrument as children run and play along the music.

The sound of music stirred Sylvia from her sleep, and she gave it her usual smile and turned back over. There was something incredibly soothing about falling asleep to the wind-buffeted strains of music that intermittently floated through town. Someone somewhere was injecting a little beauty into the world.

Her window curtains fluttered in the breeze, the volume of the music growing with the wind. The notes did not conform to any song she recognized, but they were beautiful nonetheless. There was a haunting quality to it, a joy and somberness that made it perfect for the moonlit night. It was soothing, lulling her gently back to sleep.

The next morning, Sylvia woke to bird song, the haunting melody certainly having faded around early dawn. She stretched, unseating the stiffness of the night. She always felt so rested after a night of music.

Sylvia also found her curiosity impossibly piqued. The music had been a reality as long as she could remember, and it seemed like no one had ever sought it out. Sylvia tried to think back to her childhood, to a time when stories were so rampant and free, but she could not recall anything about the music. In fact, she felt a fuzziness close in around her childhood, presenting all the facts as shadows and echoes. There were rumors, of course, but she could think of no newspaper article or breaking news about the town’s claim to fame. It simply was, just as the sun rose and set predictably each day, the music would blossom under the peak of the moon and fade as day returned. But Sylvia felt drawn to discover the truth and thank whatever person or organization was responsible for the bit of beauty.

As dusk settled in the next night, she settled in with her thermos of coffee. She was not very good at staying awake late into the night, but she felt a sense of adventure and excitement at the prospect. She sat and read a dog-eared copy of her favorite book as the minutes ticked off the clock and the night grew darker. Just around midnight, she heard the music begin.

It was soft, but steadily growing in volume. Sylvia had images of sunrise in her mind, how the light ever so gently pierced the edge of night, suffusing it with levity and brilliance a moment at a time. The music grew cautiously, swelling with a solemn joy. Her lids began to feel heavy as she sat and listened, but she made the difficult decision to push back from the table and walk into the night.

On the winding sidewalk, she paused. Her ears strained in all directions, aching for the imperceptible beckon from some location. The right, she finally decided, and began walking determinedly in that direction. What was in that direction? Sylvia tried to remember, but found it was a bit hazy. She knew the school, the church, and the grocery were all to the left from her bungalow. To the right…there was a feeling as if she once knew, but it was hard to catch. She could not remember the last time she had deviated out of her comfortable little neighborhood, and especially not at night.

The breeze was cool and brought the music a little closer. It was definitely getting louder as she walked along the rows of dark houses. The stars were out and brilliant, as was the moon. The cheery lilt of the music made her want to skip, and so she let her feet shuffle her along the path, following the constant direction of the musical notes.

She tried to place the instrument responsible, but was stymied. It, ultimately, sounded unlike anything she could rightfully place, and the notes moved in such unison that it was impossible to believe two players could be in such synchronicity.

The sidewalk abruptly ended, and the music was still distant. Sylvia looked off into the distance, wondering what laid beyond. The bright moon overhead showed a grassy field that faded into the tree line. She had no memory of this borderland, but the trees waved her on. The music swelled a bit louder with a gust of wind, increasing with each step she took into the darkness.

The night was deepening, and the music seemed to permeate the air all around her. It was not a stream of music coming from any source, but a cloud that wrapped her and carried her onward. From the shadows ahead, a lit-window materialized. Sylvia quickened her pace and soon found herself in front of the simple wooden door.

The door swung open before she could knock, and Sylvia found herself face to face with the master musician. He was indeterminably old and youthful, bent over a stringed instrument that she could not recognize. He face was lit with a calm smile, and his eyes spoke of years beyond the relative youth of his supple skin. He smiled as she entered.

“Sylvia, so nice of you to visit.”

She paused on the threshold, wondering how he could know her name, but he exuded a kindness that put her at ease. “Are you the one who plays the music?” she asked, though the answer was obvious. All around her, the air hummed in time with his swiftly moving fingers.

He smiled, and motioned towards the seat beside him, his only answer to her question.

“How does everyone hear you, then?”

“I play for those who want to hear,” he began, his fingers never pausing, “and this world carrier my music to them. That is one nice thing here.”

She listened to his answer, listening to the swelling music. To sound across the whole town, it should have been deafening here, but it was perfect. “So it’s some kind of magic?” she asked, fully under his spell.

“I suppose, but only magical in the way that this entire place is.”

“It is quite magical, indeed,” she murmured, feeling drowsiness set back in. Then his words finally sunk in. “What do you mean this entire place is magical?”

He smiled and looked at her, perplexed. “Well, it certainly is not a place grounded in reality, now is it?”

She had never thought of that, but it seemed true. There was a surreal, perfected quality to things here that were in sharp contrast to the reality she expected. He could see her mind spinning with the idea, and smiled even more broadly towards her.

“This is my way of giving back, of adding a little something mystical to the daily.”

“Where are we, then?” she finally asked.

The music turned a bit more somber, though still with an edge of hope. “My dear you live in the Beyond, now. And I do my best to make you all feel welcome here.”

Sylvia felt his words crash into her, their honesty disarming her to the reality of the situation. She felt herself slipping and falling, but tethered back to the world by the music. The soothing music that coaxed her to calm, her lids heavy, her eyes closed, and sleep finally achieved.

Sylvia woke to the sound of birdsong and the memory of the universe’s lullaby.

Creative Commons License
This work by Katherine C is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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