One for Sorrow, Two for Joy
Rivers flood and forests grow
There’s a secret to be told
One for sorrow, two for joy
Bless the soul that takes the road
Ash crawled up from bed. It was the seventh hour of the night. The magpies had left their forest, and so did the elves. She tiptoed her way through the bed and mattresses. She left the old building that had housed centuries of history. In the evening air she breathed in the stillness of the sky. It was a sky of deep storm clouds, beating with whirl winds and dazzling rain. The town of Arundel. She had never thought she’d see it in her own eyes. Yet now magic had become reality.
She had passed the giants that guarded the door. She had spoken in their language in manners of eloquence and respect. She had met the trees that had guarded the knowledge of ancient growth. She continued on her journey, to the pastures green that quietly depicted the image of God, she met the folks, young and old, friend and foes, who directed her to this town of everything. Everything that was told, everything that was known. The rich and the poor lived one street along. Within the monuments, beside the ruins, the deconstructed alleys that glimmered the sorrow of the old-time’s pride. It was the sight of the town that was centuries old, centre of the world and linked to them all, in time, in terra.
She had made herself a little home. In the alley of travellers. She made her own bed, prepared her own meal. She worked, and worked, and worked some more. It was not very different from the reality that had now become magical. She wondered how she should connect herself to the town that was the centre of all worlds, in reality, in somniis.
“It had been a long journey.”
“And it shall be longer.”
She recalled the first day leaving the past behind. The faces now are leaving her sea of memory. “Take care.” They had said. And they left her among the oceans, seeking for the lost treasures that had once belonged to her birth. It took her a while to learn the old-class manners. To drink when appropriate, sit when appropriate, look when appropriate, and smile. Always smile. Smile until neither you nor the stranger questions its authenticity. And then learn their language. Speak.
“To the journey.”
“To the stars.”
“Aye. To the stars.”
She recalled the old tune she had learned, once upon a time in her old memories of the place that she had been too familiar with. Where the summer breeze caressed the land of green. In each year of dullness she had been only exceptionally excited about the magpies that had arrived from the faraway lands, with their deep eyes and elegant speech they inherited the soul of the night and possess outstanding knowledge of the wider unknown. The magpies rest their wings on the tall walls of the buildings, and looked into the eyes of the locals, as the locals looked back at them, as she looked at them, eager to understand their stories. Like a child she rose with the moon, cleverly learned their symbols of speech, mimicked their manners and joyously performed for their rituals.
She recalled the oceans and the lands in their tales, of the heroes and the giants, of the darkness and of the light, of the past and of the present. She recalled being amazed about the idea of multiple worlds that surrounded the mundane, about the running songs that poured from the skies, about the gods who shared their death with men and traveled among the seven seas.
And then she was here, within the walls of that ancient town, where the songs were sung and the rituals were made, she had seen it rise, and now it was time for the fall. The walls would shatter and sooner or later she must make a decision. At the hour of dawn she must take action, or the action takes her.
She looked at her own shadow, long, thin, and dim, it merged into the darkened carpets of the corridor. She had been familiar with the shadow, once. A leaf left a branch with the autumn breeze. Twirled, and turned, it painted the air with a stroke of bright yellow. Soft and gentle it met the shade, and left her sight through the window frame.
She trimmed her hair and made it into a bun. Crawling up onto the windowsill she glanced at her own shadow, now deformed and trapped within the frame, like a bird, sensitive and quiet, the bird she had been too familiar with.
One for sorrow, two for joy. She whispered.
And then she leapt into thin air.