The Age of Knowing

I randomly wrote the story below today, while I was trying to compose an email. The email recipient sure got more than they bargained for….


The Age of Knowing

Some time ago, in the years between the necessity of vinyl records and their transition to an elevated medium, a disillusioned princess relocated from her castle to the forest’s most humble dwelling. When she left, she took only what she could carry: a duffel of her warmest clothes (to ward off the winter’s chill), her most favorite books (to keep her company on lonely nights), her loyal pet fox Volpina (to make her feel less alone when the books weren’t working) and the memory of a million songs. There were people who thought the princess was spoiled and left because she hadn’t gotten her way; she was an only child, after all, and if people couldn’t see her as selfish they didn’t know how to place her. Nobody knew the secrets that the princess held in her heart. Nobody had ever known them. The songs that she used to sing had closed their wings inside her chest and embedded themselves in her ribcage; they were stuck inside and she didn’t know how to free them.

She had tried, for some time, to liberate the songs. She’d stand under waterfalls in caves of the brightest acoustics and she would open her mouth only to choke on the words. She’d suck the water into her lungs and cough on the cave floor, drained and exhausted with her efforts. After a number of attempts, she had decided that the songs would just have to remain where they were, hidden and fluttering under the skin of her obedience. Every once in a great while, she would be reminded of their existence with a sharp pain in her left shoulder; the songs were kicking at her heart.

On the morning that she escaped from the castle, she had awoken to the palpitations of her songs flapping in rhythm. That which she had previously experienced as pain now manifested itself as strength of the highest magnitude. The beating of wings resuscitated her, pushed their energy windfall into her consciousness, and excoriated the layer of apathy that had accumulated inside her over the years. She threw socks into pockets and pages into socks and she ran, hard and fast.

The forest was quiet, and cool. She made her home in a glade that was ringed by birches and leaves of fire. She had no waterfall, no food, no bed – but as she crossed her legs and sat in the circle of papery white trunks she felt free. And the songs came out in a rush to populate the autumn sky with their brilliant crescendos; they hung, trembling, from the nearby branches. The princess curled up in a pile of orange and crimson, Volpina by her side for warmth, and she watched the songs perched in the trees and they in turn kept watch over her. Always.

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