literature

Ava's Song

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Ava wasn't sure – even years later – what had brought her down to the shore that night. The summer storm had passed over her cottage earlier in the evening, making even the thick stone walls tremble. She'd sung the old songs her grandmother had taught her, weaving the threads of the thunder itself between her words and the melody until she fell into a doze.


She couldn't have slept long before she roused – no, before she had been roused – the sounds of the thunder still echoing through the open windows as it made its own slow way from land to sea. She'd stood, then, and made her way out of her front door – pausing only to make sure it closed securely – and followed the winding brick path as it wound through her herbs and out to the white wooden gate.


To the left lay the path that would take her up and out onto the moor, and then to the tor itself. Her grandmother had taught her more songs – secret songs – to be sung at the massive granite outcrop. For now, however, she turned to the right and the path that would take her down the switchback trail to the shore itself.


As her bare feet made contact with the damp sand she started singing songs of the water, songs of the summer, songs of heat, songs of anger and songs of love. She felt the caress of the breeze as it flickered from wave top to wave top until it breathed life into her long dark hair, causing it to dance freely around her face.


Her eyes fixed on the horizon, following the heavy dark towers as they trod over the ocean, spiked with slashes of bright white, violet, indigo. The thudding of now-distant thunder purred over the water. She let her song end, dropping her hands to hang loose where they fell. As her words faded so did the breeze, leaving her alone.


A small smile toyed with her wide lips. A laugh bubbled within her, breaking free in a rapid susurrus that cut off as abruptly as it had begun. There were more songs. Songs her grandmother had filled her with from birth. Songs of family; songs of the past; songs to shape the future; songs of strength; songs of sacrifice, of wyrd, of fay.


She chose a final song. The Song of the Welkin. She sent forth the song, across the flattening sea, felt it rise up into the air, saw it disperse and spread. She saw the face of her grandmother, heard her voice in her ears, smelt the subtle aroma of dried herbs. A new time was coming. A time when the songs would not be sung openly, but needed to be remembered. The land, the waters, the air needed to be remembered, needed to be reminded of duties demanded and surrendered.


Ava, silent now, turned from the fading storm – still visible on the distant horizon as brief bright flashes – and slowly left the beach. She stopped, one hand on her white wooden gate, as she swept her gaze over the overflowing garden, gilt-edged in the moonlight. Each plant special, each a gift from her grandmother or friends, each a benediction for what ailed. Some contained within them both the power of life and death and she understood the difference between good and evil was not in the use of one or the other, but withholding that gift when it was needed.


Another smile and she crossed her outer threshold, trailing her fingers through stems and leaves, remembering flashes of songs of healing. Her front door, her inner threshold, her kitchen, and finally her bedroom. Shucking out of her simple clothes she crawled into her bed.


The last song of the day passed her lips.


The song of sleeping, dreaming, hoping.

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