Silent Singer’s Sorrow
She sang. She sang at the top of her lungs until she was sure her soul would shatter into a million glittering shards. Her voice echoed off the leaves and branches of the ancient forest, a song so sad that the trees slowly started to remember a similar sound. A broken hearted Greek with a lute, singing, pining for his lost love, and even the trees began to weep. She leaned against the trunk of an ancient oak, her body weak but her voice stronger than before. After resting for a moment, her song unending, she stood and again moved on.
She cried out for her loss, the grief in her voice shaking the resolve of any who heard her. Wanderers and travelers in the woods were moved to tears by her voice, falling over each other as the emotions overwhelmed them. Carts were overturned, horses and mules lost to the darkness of the woods, and no one seemed to notice or care. She left piles of shuddering and sobbing forms in her wake.
Her voice was beautiful, that could not be denied. Any other time, any other place, she could have performed for kings and queens, emperors and their consorts, the highest and most elite of any in the land. Her voice was unrivaled, and all who heard her knew it. As her clear soprano broke the night once again, all knew, but instead of cheering, they wept.
Her long hair tangled in low hanging branches and thorn bushes, and she simply walked on, tearing large chunks from her scalp and leaving bloody trails from her skin. She simply did not notice. She walked until her shoes fell apart and her feet bled, but still she sang, seemingly impervious to what should have been blinding pain. A trickle of blood from her scalp flowed into her eyes, but instead of wiping it away, she stumbled forward, her voice only wavering when she tripped in her blindness and fell forward into the dust.
She continued like this until the inhabitants of the woods could no longer stand the constant deluge of grief and misery. Her voice only stopped for the few minutes of sleep she took a day, and slowly, they were going as mad as the wandering singer.
Finally, when they could take it no longer, a woodsman stuffed his ears with cotton and beeswax, and followed the bloody footprints of the singer into the woods. Even with his ears blocked, her voice was almost unbearable, and he could feel tears flowing unbidden down his cheeks. He dashed them away with the back of his hand and walked on. He quickly came upon the bloody, broken woman, walking slowly through a clearing. He quickened his pace and quickly overtook her. Grabbing her by the shoulders, he spun her around to face him.
The full strength of her voice as such close range staggered him and he almost fell to his knees. Instead, he pulled back his arm and slapped the woman, once, straight across the face. Her voice faltered, but did not fail. He pulled back and slapped her again, and as her head snapped to the side, she fell silent, for the first time since she had entered the woods.
The woodsman pulled the cotton and wax from his ears, and stared the woman full in the face. She was not struggling against him, but there was no way she could have seen him. Her eyes were clotted shut with blood from her scalp. Feeling a pang of pity, he pulled his water skin from his hip and, holding her chin, poured the water down her face to loosen the dried blood. She tried to pull away at the first touch of water, but he held her firm. Once her face was wet, he dropped the water skin to the dirt and pulled out a rag to wipe her face clean.
He wiped the clots from over her eyes first and she blinked, then squinted her eyes. Though the woods were not bright, it was still brighter than the darkness she had been seeing.
“Why do you do this, woman?” He asked, releasing her chin and stepping back a moment. She just looked at him, as though she didn’t understand.
“Why do you do this!” he yelled, and the expression on his face caused her to step back a moment. She took a deep breath to begin her song again, and he crossed the distance between them quickly, pulling back his arm for another slap. She remained silent.
“Why will you not answer me?” The woodsman looked her over, slowly taking in her beaten and battered form. A puzzled look crossed the woman’s face for a moment, then she pointed to her ears.
“I don’t understand, singer. Why do you do this?”
A sad look crossed the singer’s face. Looking down at herself, she reached into a piece of tattered cloth that must have once been a cloak, and pulled out a small piece of paper. It was thick, high quality paper, with black script scrawling across it’s surface. She looked at it once, then handed it to the woodsman.
“I am deaf,” read the note.