Strange, Young, and Vaguely Inexplicable

Submitted into Contest #119 in response to: Write a story inspired by a piece of music (without using any lyrics).... view prompt


Contemporary Speculative

What a strange, young, and vaguely inexplicable world. 

When she was born, the world stood that way, only it never did evolve into that completed puzzle most children can picture. Nothing, nothing ever, quite made sense. And everything, including her, remained strange, young, and vaguely inexplicable. Well, perhaps not the girl. She was peculiar, old-minded, and generally exhausting to figure out. Of course, nobody tried, for, in truth, nobody ever does. Despite that general knowledge, people like to pretend they will. However, she knew they wouldn't try and would bat her aside with half a word. That much was obvious.

And oh, if only she could have understood better. Those nightly cries, those twisted dreams. None of them should have been real, and she should have understood, but she didn’t. She never did. Especially when what for most should have been a nightmare, a story, a movie--became reality and stayed that way for a painful amount of time. 

Only scrambled bits of it stayed in her memory. She remembered the way the salt crunched beneath her feet. How her blanket brushed the ground behind her as she paced. Songs, hymns, drifting through the air. That was all. 

But when she composed, when she remained focused on the piano for hours and hours and days on end, the memories would return. So, her music wasn’t quite right. However, her mind was a safer, calmer place once the notes were pounded out on the keys and the pencil had scratched itself to stubs over the paper. 

Sometimes, she’d wander out into the fields and stay there for too long. The fields, you see, were safe. Open and stretching, with grasses that waved and wind that sang of the friends who’d once played there. The girl loved those fields. They made more sense. They were safe. 

Safety was a strange and unknown thing that wrapped around her when it didn't belong and tended to flit away when she wanted it most. Yet the fields were the exception.

And once upon a time, she ran there. Without knowing why. It happened all at once--first, she was walking along, trailing behind her family. Next, she was running. Heart slamming, blood throbbing in her head like a thousand armies marching, arms swinging at her sides, she ran. It made no sense, but nothing did. Not the way she huddled under the blankets at night, frozen stiff and wishing her heart could return to its regular pulse. Not the way she whirled with teeth bared on those who startled her. None of it. It was a strange, young, and vaguely inexplicable set of actions that followed her every step, just as linked as the notes on the paper when she composed her music. 

But that day, when she ran to the fields, something changed. You see, she stood among those waving grasses as still and silent as a buck deer caught in his glen while the world around her roared with noise. Rustling trees, the wingbeat of birds, the whirring of distant electric fences--it all filled her head. A scrawling, growth of flowers twisted beneath her feet. Thinking she heard something, the girl leaned closer to the small patch of flowers. Something definitely moved therein. Something made a noise, you know, and noises stuck out to her. Her world was noise. The loud, aching racket that quaked her bones and made her jaw clench followed her everywhere, but this noise was different, for it didn't throb. It rustled.

She went still. More frozen than a deer, more frightened than a rabbit, angrier than a lion encroached upon, the girl watched the flower patch. It was as if her muscles had gone slack.

Nothing had moved. She’d imagined it. But she left that field, deeming it strange, young, and vaguely inexplicable. Instead, she stalked the forests, a silent banshee whose noise echoed inside her own chest. Inside of her, a symphony rose that nobody could hear, for nobody tried to hear.

The music is loud, the scream is the music.

I am the scream. I am the music. 

You tell me she needed a Healer, and I agree. Of course, she waited for one. For a very long time, she stalked the forest and fields and waited for a Healer to come. One did, at long last, but told her he wouldn’t simply stretch out a hand and fix everything. That would come later. Far later. 

Only, it didn’t matter. She had the Healer’s promise and she tucked it into her heart. Every day, when she wanted to stop dead or fight to the death, she remembered the Healer’s promise. Someday, in a strange, young, and deliciously inexplicable world, it would come to pass. 

Meanwhile, she’ll apologize. Because she does seem a bit off. Sometimes more off than her music. Only, please believe, she is not dark, violent, or hateful. No, she may seem dark--but believe that is only because she shines so brilliantly that the shadows about her contrast more sharply for it. And she may seem violent, but believe that she has seen violence and knows how to make it, but won’t. She is peaceful, not harmless. And she’s not hateful. No, she’s not hateful. She’s been whispered to, lied to. When someone speaks to her, she deems them strange, young, and vaguely inexplicable, not to be trusted till further notice. 

However, I do wonder what would happen if someone were to try and push past that. It would be terribly interesting. She might even call it a strange, young, and vaguely inexplicable thing. But a good one. 

Someday, she will be healed by the Healer she met in the forest. Until then, I think she’ll keep composing and pounding the compositions out on the piano and apologizing when the note gets too sharp, but relishing in the noise she makes in a world of noise. Not a bad life, really. Maybe the others, maybe you, will hear the music. Maybe you’ll understand the sharp note--you have quite a few of your own, and some sharper. Maybe you’ll all draw together for the music. Who knows? 

As for who this girl is, that’s anyone’s guess. But maybe, just maybe, you have a piece of her in you too. 

Am I wrong?

November 09, 2021 16:02

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.