Song of Silence: Part Five
Desdamona landed in the cave that evening in high spirits, and smiled as her siblings clustered around her eagerly, wanting to know what had happened.
"Well?" asked Sirius. "Did it work? Did you get your voice back?"
Desdamona shook her head, and her siblings' faces fell.
Blossom rested a hand on her shoulder. "I'm really sorry, Dezzie, I know how much you wanted this," she said sadly. "I wonder why it didn't work?"
Quickly Desdamona scrawled, It's okay, I didn't get my voice back, but the water faerie did give me something that's going to make things easier.
Sirius and Blossom looked hopeful again.
"What is it?" Sirius asked.
Desdamona went to her father, who had been keeping her flute safe on the trip back, and took it from him. She unwrapped the purple cloth and showed her siblings. They both stared.
"What is it?" Sirius repeated, and Desdamona chuckled silently.
It's a flute, she wrote, handing it gently to him. It's a musical instrument that plays the most beautiful music in Neopia, at least, that's what the water faerie said. It's made of magic ice, and it will never melt.
Sirius and Blossom read this, their eyes widening farther at each sentence.
"That's so cool!" Blossom exclaimed, taking the flute from her brother and examining it. She handed it back to Desdamona. "Play something," she said.
Desdamona smiled and shook her head. I don't know how yet, I have to learn first. It's going to take a lot of practise, but if I work hard, maybe I'll be good enough to play at the Draik Day Festival in September.
Blossom beamed. "Dezzie, that's wonderful!" she cried. "You'll be the star of the eventides' performance!"
Desdamona smiled shyly and shrugged. I don't know if I'll be that good. I'm just glad to have the chance to do something at the festival like you guys.
That evening, once the clamouring and excitement had died down, Desdamona slipped out the cave and down the hill clutching her flute. She needed a quiet place to practise.
Walking for almost half a mile, she came to a small grove of giant oak trees which grew on the side of the hill. They stretched their long branches toward the setting sun, whose warm orange glow seeped like honey through the broad tree leaves, shimmering over the grassy hill like wildfire.
Desdamona sat down and leaned against the largest of the trees, watching the sun as it sank slowly below the horizon. Finally, she felt ready. Bringing the flute to her lips, she took a deep breath and blew across the mouthpiece gently. A thin, reedy note flowed out, weak, but stronger than the first time she'd tried that morning.
Another breath produced the same note, stronger, sharper, more demanding, but no less beautiful. Experimentally Desdamona put her fingers over the keys and air holes, then blew as she lifted them one by one, listening with delight as the notes rose slowly, getting higher and higher, just like the rising sun, she thought.
For several minutes, she played the same scale up and down, over and over, until it felt natural, and she could do it almost without thinking. Satisfied with this result, Desdamona thought over all the songs she knew that she could try out. She didn't want to try the song of the eventide Draiks, not yet, that one was special; it needed to be saved until she thought she could play it properly, without mangling or degrading it.
Then a song Desdamona had heard once while wandering through Meridell's city popped into her head. It was an old warrior's tune, and she'd heard it sung by two of King Skarl's rather bored-looking castle guards who stood outside the front gate as she walked by one morning. It was light and peppy, but uncomplicated, and she thought she'd risk giving it a try.
Slowly she blew up and down the scale until she found the right starting note, and before she knew it, the rest of the song was flowing out exactly as she remembered it. She repeated this song three times, getting more and more confident the fewer mistakes she made. After that, she tried the old lullaby her mother had sung to her and her siblings when they were hatchlings; it was soft and warm, and reminded her of simpler times when being dumb hadn't been such a problem. She wished she could go back there, back to a time before she'd realised what trouble her silence was going to cause.
Suddenly, from beyond the trees there came a rustling of grass, and Desdamona's ears pricked up. She stopped playing and sat up straighter, trying to see who had found her hideout. She hoped it wasn't any of her family, she didn't want them to hear her play yet, not until she was better at it.
Desdamona's curiosity was satisfied as the silhouette of another Draik approached, and as she came out of the shadows, the little Draik gasped; this newcomer was eventide, just like her.
Putting her flute down, Desdamona picked up her board and wrote, Who are you?
The older Draik chuckled and said, "I was just going to ask you the same thing. My name is Sofia, I was just passing by when I heard a flute playing, was that you?"
Desdamona nodded, Yes, my name's Desdamona, I don't have a voice, so the water faerie gave me this flute, I'm practising so I can perform with the other eventides at the Draik Day Festival. She held her breath and waited to see what would happen; would Sofia laugh at her? Tell her she was wasting her time? Would she say she couldn't perform with them unless she could sing?
Sofia studied her for a moment, and unreadable expression on her face. Finally she said, "No voice, that must be terrible."
Desdamona nodded rather sadly. It's not easy, she conceded.
Suddenly Sofia said, "Would you play something for me?"
Desdamona blinked, surprised, then shook her head nervously, I'm not good enough yet, she wrote.
Sofia shrugged. "Sure you are, you sounded great to me. Please? I'd love to hear it, maybe I could practise my singing too. I think I know that second one you were playing, why don't we give it a go?"
Desdamona stared, Really? She wrote, her hand trembled, making her letters wobble, You really want to sing with me?
Sofia smiled. "Yes, is that such a surprise?"
Desdamona fiddled with her chalk and stared at her tail, trying to decide how to reply, eventually she scrawled, Well, most people when they find out I have no voice, they avoid me, it's like they're afraid of me or something, even grownups.
Sofia sighed. "It isn't fair is it? You didn't choose to be born this way, but you have no choice, and people reject you because of it. It's too bad most people never have to know how it feels to be different, if they did, maybe they wouldn't be so cruel to those who are, maybe they'd see that it's really not as easy as they seem to think it is. But don't worry," she smiled, "I'm not like everyone else, I don't care if you never say a word, because it's the song on the inside that counts."
Desdamona smiled. That's just what my father said! she wrote excitedly.
Sofia nodded. "And he's right, never let anyone tell you you can't do something, because only you know for sure. So how about it, want to try that song?"
Desdamona grinned and nodded. Okay. She picked up her flute and tentatively tried the first few notes. Sofia followed along perfectly; she had a voice like an angel. Desdamona stared and forgot to keep playing.
Sofia stopped. "What's wrong?" she asked.
Desdamona shook her head and cleared her thoughts. Nothing, you just sing beautifully, that's all.
Sofia smiled, "Well thank you," she said, "So do you."
Desdamona beamed; it was the first time anyone had ever said anything like that to her; it felt wonderful.
Slowly Sofia sat down beside her and looked out at the setting sun. "It's beautiful, isn't it?" She sighed.
Desdamona nodded; it was. She brought her flute to her lips and blew again, the notes carrying across the endless plain toward that setting sun, and for a moment, she almost thought she could keep it hanging there, listening to her forever.
Sofia joined in softly, her voice intertwining with the flute's melody; it was like nothing Desdamona had ever experienced before. The song ended and she stared at Sofia, tears shining in her eyes.
Sofia regarded her uncertainly, "What's wrong?" she asked, resting a hand on her shoulder. "Why are you crying?"
Desdamona shook her head and wiped her eyes. I'm fine, she wrote, it's just... I've never really felt... part of anything like that before. Her words came slowly and manoeuvring the chalk across the board felt like chiselling stone; she didn't know how to express the joy she felt, she wasn't sure it was possible.
To be continued...