Next week, I will try to write something new (yes, yes, we've heard that before), but I hope these stories are still enjoyable to read!
A Harp lay lonely in the abandoned barn. A product of mass production, bought as the decorative compliment to an antique bookcase and an over the top chandelier, now discarded as a frivolous luxury. She had never known love's touch. Not a soul had ventured to run their fingers over her strings, not a tone escaped her long mahogany throat. If she could have wept, what lovely songs she could have sung. Songs to break the heart, but alone, her soul lay dormant.
One night, the wind was howling, the rain pelting on the already warping boards of the roof. The Harp once or twice could have sworn she felt a drop on her back or neck, threatening to warp them as well. Internally she shuddered, for her fear of death was almost as heavy as the weight of her loneliness.
As a particularly bright flash of lightening was followed almost immediately by an earthshaking crash of thunder, she suddenly felt a burst of wind and noticed with alarm that she wasn't alone. There on the dirty and matted hay lay a large feathered object.
„Oh, perhaps this is a woodpecker“ she thought in her naïve horror, for she had never seen one before and had only heard of them in passing from her loveless keepers. „Ah yes, I see the red crest. He has come to put holes in me to finally finish me off.“
In her panic, she had not noticed that the wind was now running over her strings, causing light swoops of tone to rise into the air.
„What lovely songs they play in the Inbetween...“ came a weak voice from the red crest.
„If you're going to peck me to death, make it quick, but just know that I am not a tree and offer no insects for you to feed on.“ the Harp said, bracing herself for the pain.
„I intend to do no such thing, especially if you sing that sweetly...am I still alive?“
„I would assume you are, since you can talk to me so. But what kind of woodpecker are you if you don't wish to try and peck me full of holes?“
„Woodpecker? Oh don't you fear. I am but a humble and very old Phoenix with no desire to peck such a lovely instrument such as yourself full of holes.“
The Harp fell silent at this, the wind dying down as well. The Phoenix rose from the floor, shaking out his brilliant red and gold feathers. The Harp had never seen such a creature before and continued to be silent in wonder as he attempted to move a pane of wood to block the hole he had fallen through.
„A pity...“ said the Phoenix, turning his red crested head to look at her. „Without the wind, you don't sing.“
„I've hardly ever sung. That was one of the few times.“ she said. Then more shyly, „But if you are not a woodpecker, you are surely still a bird. Do you sing?“
„I love to sing.“ he said. „But would be honored if you would join me.“
The Harp sighed sadly. „Alas, there is no wind. And no one with fingers to play my strings. Otherwise I would the best that I could.“
The Phoenix glided over to her excitedly. „Ah but I can make the wind! Come! I shall fly around this barn, and with the wind, you will sing!“ With that, he rose into the air, his crimson and golden tail brilliantly following behind. As the wind caught the Harp's strings, tones seemed to ripple into the air. After a moment, the Phoenix began to sing. It is said that a Phoenix song can warm and calm the heart, and the Harp found herself discovering why. As he sang, she allowed her strings to ring out to their fullest. What at first was just the rippling of notes became harmony to his melody. The Harp could not believe that such beauty could ever come to pass in such a dreary barn.
The whole night they sang together. The Harp, having finally realized her purpose in life, sang as she never thought she could. The Phoenix, having finally found an accompaniment to his song, felt that he could have calmed the fiercest army on the brink of battle. As the rosy fingers of dawn entered the barn, the Phoenix's song became softer and softer. He flew not as high, and the Harp noticed that the wind that played her strings became more and more calm. Then as their last tone rang out, the Phoenix landed lightly on the floor beside her.
„That was beautiful.“ the Harp sighed contentedly. „I never knew I could sing like that. And of any bird song I ever heard, yours is the sweetest.“ The Phoenix lay silent next to her, breathing labored. „Are you alright?“ she asked. He turned his once brilliant head, now slightly graying to face her.
„Don't you know the fate of a Phoenix?“ he asked weakly, but a hint of humor in his voice. „We are creatures of fire. And at the time of our death, we are engulfed in flame and disappear from this earth, leaving only ash behind us.“
„But surely your death is a long way off...“ began the Harp.
„I told you I am an old Phoenix.“ he chuckled, voice still weak. „It's not too far now.“
„Aren't you afraid?“ whispered the Harp, her heart contracting.
„Not with you here.“ he said, just as softly, moving his head to rest against the slope of her neck. „It was truly an honor. And I can think of no better way to leave this earth than after singing with you.“
With that he moved his head away just in time for a brilliant burst of flame to engulf his crimson feathers. It happened so fast that the Harp barely had a chance to cry out. But as quickly as they came, the flames disappeared and all that was left was a pile of ash on the barn floor.
The Harp was in a state of shock for a moment, until she heard the sound of voices outside the barn.
„We'll just chop up the rest of this wood in the barn. That'll last us the winter.“
„That storm definitely left a chill in the air. Not a moment to waste.“
The barn door was flung open and two men from the house entered, an axe thrown over one's shoulder. Along with the pane of wood the Phoenix had used to block out the wind, the Harp was also picked up and brought outside into the damp and chilly morning. Before, she would have been paralyzed with fear at the thought of her death coming so soon and unexpectedly, but the Harp felt almost as if the Phoenix was still singing to her from somewhere. Her heart was still warm and whole being full of the song they had shared. A morning wind picked up and ran lightly over her strings. Silvery tones echoed through the clearing, falling like the rain that had brought them together. Even as they raised the axe over her under the maple tree outside the barn, her heart was still filled with their song.
The other man had gone back into the barn to check for any more extra wood. He stared for a moment at the pile of ash on the floor and made a mental note to sweep it up once they had finished outside. As he closed the door to the barn, the ash shifted slightly as if a slight breeze had caught it. The sleepy head of a baby bird, feathers the lightest shade of pink rose from the ash and uttered a single pure and lovely tone from his throat.