My short story for this week is another one inspired by a short story group prompt. The prompt for the week was "Tone Deaf" and I found the prompt a little challenging. So, I would love to get some feedback on the story. It is called, "The Fairy of Avery Loch". Let me know what you think!
The Fairy of Avery Loch
by James J Meadows III
The fairies of Avery Loch aren’t known for their benevolence. Neither are they known for their animosity. Rather, like most denizens of the unseen realms beyond the laws and limitations of human reason and comprehension, they are known for their bizarre tendency to see into a person’s heart; delivering their usually unsolicited blessings and curses based simply upon what the person deserves or needs, rather than what the person necessarily wants. Still, to the good and pure in heart, the fairies of Avery Loch traditionally pose little danger or threat, if they take any interest in them at all.
Perhaps it was for this reason that Arthur McGuill felt neither nervous nor apprehensive about spending a bright sunny day camped out beside the cool waters. Flute in hand, he strolled down the lush green slope of Wallace hill, to the lake’s edge, where he sat down upon an old fallen log. There, in the warm sunlight of a gentle summer’s morn, he lifted the small flute to his lips and commenced whiling away the hours with his first and only true love: music.
From his earliest memory all the way to his twenty-fifth year of life, which he enjoyed now, music was at the heart of Arthur’s existence and his one respite from the loneliness which haunted his days. For unlike his friends and family, who had either passed on or moved to new lands, music was always there for him.
He heard the melodies of laughter, the symphonic songs of the birds, the harmony of the winds flowing through the mountains, and the crashing cymbals of thunder in the storm. He strove to model this majesty in his songs, filling his tunes with his glorious medleys of the world’s splendor. As he played the current tune, he visualized the beauty and serenity of the morning, expressing the glory of the dawning day with each flowing note.
Suddenly, Arthur became aware of a figure watching him. He lowered the flute and turned to greet the stranger, only to have his breath catch in his throat at the sight of her. Yes, it was a her, and she was beautiful. She wore a long flowing white dress, whose untarnished silky strands glistened like daisies in the morning sun. Her body was slim and fragile, with delicate unblemished skin, smoother than a glassy pond on a warm windless day. Platinum hair streamed from her head down to the grass behind and her thin red lips wore a peaceful expression. Her most remarkable feature, however, were her eyes; a deep dark reflective grey, promising depths of unimaginable feeling and unfathomable intelligence. He knew those eyes belonged to no earthly woman.
She was kneeling on the ground with her hands in her lap. Upon seeing him stop, she smiled and nodded to him.
“Please, go on,” she said. “Play some more for me.”
The voice was sweet and light, child-like in its innocence; reminding Arthur of youthful days spent rolling in the clover as the clouds passed overhead. He found himself unable to resist the request, if only to reward the blessing of hearing her speak, and further the hope that he might hear it again.
He lifted the flute back to his lips and started again. Even as he played, he found it impossible to take his eyes off her. He gazed into her stormy eyes, imagining the swirling white of morning fog, the cool touch of gentle mist, and the soft crunch of dew covered grass beneath his feet.
Arthur watched the young woman listen. Her eyes closed, her body swaying with the music. When he finished, she burst into a series of giggles and applause!
“That was so beautiful,” she said. “Play me a new song.”
Arthur never considered refusing the request. He had to play another song, if only to hear the sweetness of her laughter one more time and delay her departure for another moment. He lifted the flute and began playing a new song. He looked at her flowing platinum hair and envisioned a gentle brook trickling down the heart of a cool mountain forest, rolling over rocks and across fresh leaves, providing drops of life to tired, thirsty animals coming to savor its vibrant waters; on its way to merge with the fathomless depth of a brisk sparkling lake.
The girl again closed her eyes, smiling gently and releasing a peaceful sigh. When he stopped playing, the woman opened her eyes, gazing deeply into his eyes. He stared back enraptured, wanting more than anything for her to ask him for another song; praying she would stay.
She reached out, placing her hand on his arm.
“Please, play me just one more,” she said. “Play me the most beautiful thing you have ever seen.”
Her touch was warm and soothing, radiating through his body with an almost intoxicating affect. When she removed her hand and sat back, it was like a void opened in his soul. He almost found himself begging her to put it back. Instead, he lifted the flute to his lips one last time.
He paused, trying to picture the most beautiful thing he could think of. Then, he began to play. And what he played was her. He played the melody of her voice and the beauty of her laugh. He played the warmth of her touch and the depth of her eyes. He played the serenity of her sighs and the passion of his desire to not spend a moment away from her.
As he watched, tears filled her eyes. Though she smiled, her smile appeared sadder now and she held both hands gripped tightly over her breast, as though shielding her heart, lest it break.
When he finished the song, he looked around. To his surprise, it was nighttime, and the moon shone bright in the sky. Without a word, the woman rose and turned to leave.
“Wait,” he called after her. “Don’t leave!”
She froze but did not turn to look at him. He tried to think of something to say, anything to make her linger longer.
“I have played a melody for you,” he said. “Won’t you sing a tune for me?”
“You would have me sing, so I will stay,” she said, her voice soft and mournful. “I understand, for I long to stay with you. But your world and our world are forever separate, and our moment together is as fleeting as my song would be.”
“Then I would have your song be the only song I ever hear, and our moment be the only moment I ever experience, for I cannot bear to be apart from you.”
He fell down on his knees, imploring her to stay. “Please, I have given you the one gift I have to give, grant me this boon.”
The woman turned around and knelt before him. She placed her right hand in his hand and her left hand on his cheek.
“As you wish,” she said. She leaned forward, and gave him a tender kiss on the lips, flooding his body with warmth.
She broke off the kiss, pulling back and facing him, her hand still caressing his cheek, as she smiled at him. For a moment, that seemed to last an eternity, they gazed into each other’s eyes in rapture. Then, she sang a single note; only one note; a long simple note anyone might sing. And, yet, in that one note, Arthur heard the sounds of all the songs he’d ever heard and felt the fullness of all the emotions he had ever felt. In its steady hum, time seemed to stand still, revealing the beauty behind all beauty, the majesty within all nature, and the purity within the heart of the all purest loves to ever love.
At last, the note ended. Arthur blinked. The woman was gone. From that day on, Arthur never heard another song. Every note on every instrument whether high or low, sounded in his ears as a single note; the note sung by the woman. Any song sung by any singer was merely a monotone hum, repeating her note again. The wind in the trees, the fire crackling in the hearth, and the waves lapping across the shore, no longer made their lofty tones, only repeating her song over and over again to his ears.
Yet, whenever Arthur heard that note, he smiled. For he felt the touch of the woman’s hand on his cheek and the warmth of her kiss in his skin. And when he opened his eyes, he saw her face, gazing back at him with love.
Many said it was a shame for him to lose his music and pitied him. But Arthur was content, living out the rest of his days in peace and joy. And it is said, that the descendants of Arthur McGuill, if they sit in silence and listen closely, can still hear the fairy’s note ringing in their ears, extending its blessing and joy throughout the ages, to the end of time.