Christmas time again. This might be on
OT on some of the places to which I am posting, but ... ah
... the set has to go together for some odd reason. It's to
get the full picture -- an emotional picture more than anything
else in this case.
Mon seul etoile est morte ...
Mon luth constelle porte le soleil noir.
- 'Adversary', Julian May
Teresa fingered the strings of the lute in a desultory fashion,
the notes drifting out from the balcony of Cassidy Keep into
the shadowed evening. Identical snowflakes where once each
had been unique. Although technically perfect, she knew that
the performance was soulless. The fine gut would strum and
thrum identically for a robot, a chimpanzee or a child, had
any of them enough talent or enough fortune. There were no
subtle intonations, no shades of meaning, glimmering blue-silver
beneath the sound. No lorelei song to lure and charm. The
sea that beat against the rocks of the islet was sirenless
for the first time.
Her father had brought her to their ancestral home for Christmas
in the hope that, surrounded by family and attended by memories,
she would be able to convalesce -- spiritually and physically
-- from the wound Feral had inflicted on her. The cruellest
wound possible; one that had wrecked her voicebox, and stolen
her music, forcing to rely on prosthetic strings and metal.
She plucked a riff out on the strings, hating the echoing,
hollow sound. James's Christmas present had not been a success.
Knowing her love for the somewhat archaic instrument -- and
she had loved the lute when it could supplement her
soaring soprano -- her friend had scoured San Francisco in
search of one and sent it to her with her father. Although
she knew it to be second-hand by its musty perfume, the richly-polished
wood, cream-coloured and smooth, was still sound and its pitch
was perfect. It was not its fault that it had no experiences
-- had not known laughter, sorrow, desperation and love; the
true notes of every composition -- and could not interpret
Opening her mouth, Teresa tested the ruined vocal chords,
praying for a Christmas miracle. She felt the air rush through
her throat, pressed from her lungs through the network of
bronchioles and bronchi, then out into the cool air where
it condensed and disappeared. No broken squeak, or whisper,
emerged, let alone siren song. Angrily, she plucked a chord,
harsh, ugly and grating, before walking to the balacony.
Beneath her, the ocean stretched to touch the sky. An expanse
of unbroken pearl, it called to her with the thousand tongues
of dolphins and waves, mermaids and whales. If she jumped,
she could sing with them, they promised. She would be Calypso
in the navel of the ocean, charming sailors and princes with
her voice, would again live among them.
She stepped onto the ridge, light slippers barely providing
enough traction to keep her from slipping on the wet stones
of the guardwall. Her red hair blew behind her, like kelp
or seaweed in the tide. Her white nightdress, edged with ribbons,
rippled like sea-foam in the breeze. Kicking off her shoes,
lute clutched against her, Teresa let herself fall. The dark
crag sped past as she plummeted to earth, a snowflake in a
storm. Spray hit her face, deliciously fresh and salty where
it landed in her open mouth. Underneath her, there was a confusion
of whitelace as the water hit the rocks. Waiting until the
last possible moment, Teresa pulled herself into the sky,
buoyed up by the wind. The dolphins, waves, mermaids and whales
called, but she was far above them. Too far for their petty
charms to work on her.
Surrounded by star-spangled sky, she plucked an experimental
note on the lute, hearing it ring from crag to rock to wave
to wall in a thousand, tiny faerie-bells, stars of sound,
each as unique as a snowflake. The coast rang once more with
1. Le luth constelle = the star-spangled lute. The
title is taken from the prologue of 'Adversary' by Julian
May. It's where Marc is identifying himself to the rebels
and mourning Cyndia: "Ma seule etoile est morte ... Mon
luth constelle porte le soleil noir" - "My only
star is dead ... My star-spangled lute carries the black sun."
I'm taking it more literally than Marc uses it, though, as
he refers to Cyndia's ... attempt to put a forcible end to
his plans for fathering Mental Man. The connotations there
are somewhat ... uh ... ribald, to put it mildly. Not that
that's at all relevant, just my unusual ability to waffle
on about that particular series of novels.
2. Calypso was the siren in the 'Odyssey' who dwelt in, what
Homer called, the navel of the ocean.
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