I run beside her as she sprints across the open field. My fingers run through her blowing black hair. She throws her head back and laughs, and my fingers touch her forehead, briefly.
I stand beside her bed, her frail frame trembling as she dreams. Here there is the smell of sickness and death, and I am the silence that holds her. Her lashless eyes open and stare up as if she can see me. She whispers something, a name, my name, and I know she has. I brush my fingertips across her eyes, closing them, and as her family bursts in to grieve, the silence flees on feet that never existed.
I am the ringing of their voices, the deep resonance of their piano, the windy darkness of the cello as what seems like a few small voices turn in to a torrent of harmony, filling their space with sound, sending dust down from the auditorium's rafters, the ancient song of freedom they sing tugging at them, pulling gently on their wings, trying to lift them. But for all my power, I cannot lift a few bodies. For all my power, only they can open their wings. All I can do is show them how. So in to their song I pour my pride in them, my joy, my hope, and my love for another new part of a world that never ceases to dream.
I am the fire inside a plane's engines, the dread that fills the air, the black smoke in the cabin. I am the desperate wish filling every beating heart inside that vessel of the air. I am the wind that tears at the wings, the hands that tear the metal section from section. I am the cushions that cary the few who survive to safety. I am the water that chills their bones, and I am the cold wind in their eyes. I am the ship that saves them, and I am the hands that free each of them.
I sit beside a man on the cobbled stones of an ancient street. He has a wide, curved stringed instrument in his lap, and he wears nothing but tattered homespun clothing. As the people and the vehicles and the animals pass him by, I rest my hand on his forehead and fill him with music, and as it runs from his hands, I sing with him, and I know that he hears me.
I am the half-heard song that tugs at the girl's heart, barely more than a child, who lies trapped beneath the weight of a tabby body, its striped, fringed face leering at her from inches away. It swipes curved, sharpened claws at her face, and pulls them back to lick them free of blood. It pushes her down, her injured back grating against the floor, its flat black eyes gleaming maliciously, and draws another red streak down her side. She calls a name, my name, and I whirl toward her. I am fury in that moment, a flame that sears everything it passes, too hot for the substance of the world to handle. With one arm I lift her bodily from beneath the creature. Her skin is cold, and streaks of blood run down her face, her sides, her legs. It has bled her, perhaps bound her. My eyelids shutter for a moment and then I am seeing the world through a crimson haze, and hot red light engulfs its body, burning it instantly to ash. In this moment I have moved, riding a crest of music, I have come to the aid of someone who called me as I promised all those aeons ago that I would always, always do. I would forsake no one, for the cruelest fate is to be left in silence.
I touch the eyelids of a man lying on the desert floor, alone. He opens his eyes for a moment and gazes upward toward the stars. I am the rumble in the earth at the passage of some great energy. I am the hand that guides its cresting wave through his body. I see him shine for a moment, an arc of color through the visible spectrum. He rises startled to his feet, his body shining as pure potential flows in to him like a vessel, as if such a thing can be distilled.
I walk through the streets of an old and scarred city, listening to every voice there is to hear. The invaders understand that a great strength is a double-edged sword, that this city's impenetrable walls can be turned to its downfall. They have been seeking the end of this country for a long time, have claimed it in the name of their empire and their king and their shattered religion. They creep in to the majestic, millennial city and set it alight, and outside, they watch as the walls hold true, hold in the fire, and raze it to the ground. I am the screams of the people as they run from each gate in to the swords of the enemy army. I am the choking despair in their throats as they claw their way in to whatever water they can find, trying to douse the flames. I am the keening of the women, humming their eerie mourning song to the lightless night sky. I am the names they send winging in to the sky like frail, doomed birds. I am the smoke that steals their voices. I am the flames that burn them, the sharp edges that spill their blood, the rivers they have poisoned and now seek refuge in. And I am the walls, standing resolutely when the tragedy is over, alone.
They come in to the girl's room to remove the bandages around her face. She has been here for months, healing and growing, I know. I was not here for it all, but I have seen it all. As they pull free the bandages, I put my fingertips gently beneath her eyelashes and lift the lids open. The joy on her face as she looks around and sees her world is just enough for me.
I walk with him as he carries his manuscripts to the hands of some other who may find truth in them. With the last of his strength, an old man gives away the secrets he held within him for so long. This is a star in a human body, with all the knowledge in him of the oldest of stars, yet he has been struck mute so that his only gift, his knowledge of the stars, is in his writing.
I am the music that flutters inside a dying boy's heart. I am his frail voice, calling for peace, weeping for the world's loss of compassion. I am the gentleness he shows where others show only hatred. I am his tears when harsh words are needlessly thrown. I do not give him strength, for it is already there. I merely show him with my power that inside of him, there is all the strength left in a dying world. He is a ray of hope. He can set these people free, so to him I give the gift of making music which flies on its own wings. But for all that I try to do, his eyes close too soon, and I bend to lift him in to my arms and carry him onward.
I stand on the deck of a ship as it bucks and sways, with my flute in hand. I play the sound of the wind in to being, and my hands tear at the hull and the masts and the closed hatches on the deck. My wings rise and stir the air in to a whirlwind, and light flies from my eyes to crack the sky with its force. Water rushes across the planks and I leap clear as men fall, clinging to drifting, storm-tossed debris. I am the lament that comes from their lips. I am their prayers as they desperately cling to life. I am the wind that they struggle to breathe. I am the night which they died. I am the lightning that illuminates their fate. I am their end.
A thousand voices rise in song, swaying in the streets of a victorious city. I dance among them. I am the flame of a candle in a little girl's hand. I am the drifting keening of the tone callers' flutes. I am the vibrations of the drums on their platforms. I am the joy in their voices. I am the sight of their enemies fleeing. I am their music.
A hurricane's winds break against a coastline, its rain and winds lashing a coastal town to pieces. A family runs for their storm cellar, their hands over their heads, with nothing but the clothes on their backs. I am the wind that tears at their hair, I am the rain that bites their skin and I am the force that pulls at everything they have ever known. I am the drag of water against sand that wears coastlines down over millennia. I am the push and pull of the currents that made this storm. I am the storm and all that it has come to be.
yet for all this time I have been rooted, like an ancient tree to the place where life first came to me and breathed the scent of spring around me. Inside my heart and soul, the world turns, and I have sat still at its center, here and there moving like a flame. I have run with the children of a thousand civilizations. I have danced with the smoke of their offerings, their sustenance, and their pyres. I have hummed my way through their music, for because of me it is infinite. I have sung when cities burned, danced through the fires of dying civilizations, and blessed the birth of many more. I have held the hands of the lost, the frightened, the dying, the grieving, and in to their silence I have brought what song I can bring. I have doused fires and started them. my hands have pulled down the walls of dimensions, and helped to build them. I have moved the hands of time and sometimes scattered the pieces of the world's great playing board, but I have never lived inside either. I have held my place throughout the morning wheel, where earth and sky collide, yet I have whirled in the river dance and the fire dance and the blade dance, and I have spun the world inexorably through night and back again with the wind of my passing. I have been clothed in both flame and ice, and have existed in void and light, silence and sound, material and insubstantial.
I stand beside her and run one hand lightly through her hair. She isn't what anyone expected. She is plain, and on top of that she is blind, and quiet, and sad. She sits down on a rock and lifts her head, and something tugs at her body, lifting her hair in an invisible wind. Suddenly she breaks free, tearing away from the old body, a comet's tail of song unfurling behind her, snapping in the wind, flaring like burning magnesium, like looking in to the sun, like passing your hands through a flame that doesn't burn. She unfurls like a massive, trailing wing that stretches the length of the universe, all the creations under heaven resting within its feathers.
I am turning to face her as she whirls back down to me, her wings stretching all the way around space and time. The wing that brushes my cheek has encompassed the whole universe in a wheel, from her place beside me to the corner of my other eye. And for a second I am the turning point of the universe's wheel. I am the point which strikes the ground at any given moment. I am the closest thing to an end that any wheel can ever have.
I am song, destruction, timelessness and flame. I reside between ending and beginning. I am beyond any concept of time. My passing burns cities, wrecks ships, topples mountains, and sets all souls free. The sound of my eternal footsteps shatters glass, snuffs out millions of tiny creatures, turns day in to night, and condenses clear sky in to black thunderheads. I am encapsulated in silence, for I am all music that ever was and ever will be. I am bathed in fire because I am the center of every flame in existence. But I am the hope in each heart, I am the spark that creates the determination to go on. I am the hand that cuts down the strongest of empires. I am the blade that silences the cruelest of lives. Sometimes I am nothing more substantial than the very thing which lifts burdens from mortal shoulders, so that I may carry them. For I bear all of time on my back, but I am at once the place where it ends and the person who closes that door. I am the song that rises from the streets of a ruined city. I am the flame that shines when all other lights must go out. Darkness is my world and bleakness my domain, silence is my seat and twilight is the only crown that will ever rest on my brow.
I am nothing more and nothing less than music.