Grainnuel

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This was originally posted on multiply.com, but I wanted to save it on this blogsite.  My apologies to most of you who have already read and commented on it. 

Granuaile woke on the featureless plain this morning. She knew that it was that time before she went to sleep in the rude bed she shared with her husband, and had prepared for this day by setting her crude dulcimer on the rocking chair on the porch. The words spread through the community like fire when they espied that omen. It meant change for good or for evil, was nigh.

They natives of that old Arkansas community were afraid of Granuaile, severe in her plain dress and fiery red hair, and frail to near emaciation. But her looks were deceptive. She was not frail at all, and her eye saw clearly that which the people feared. Calvinism ruled the valley, and many believed that Granuaile was a witch. But Granuaile was not a witch. Granuaile saw things with a different eye. Her vision was as sharp as an owl at night, and she could see the spirits that worked order in the universe.

She was not aware of the cabin, nor was she aware of crowd that had gathered out her door as she arose that morning. Donning her simple dress, she padded barefoot to the porch, picked up the dulcimer, and placed it across her knees as she sat down in the rocker. All she could see was a featureless plain, filled with shadowy, almost human wisps going about their obscure tasks in studied disarray when she struck the first discord on the dulcimer. That chord rippled across the plan in concentric ripples, the spirits stopped their relentless walking.

All the rural community could see was her grim visage; jaw clenched in determination as she strummed the dulcimer with strong, unadorned chords and rigid rhythm. Then she began to sing, not with beauty and grace, but with a flat intonation devoid of modulation and accent. She sang old dirges for long gone relatives. Songs of unrequited love. Songs of young men gone to war who never returned. Songs of women dying in childbirth. Songs of droughts, and withering suns, and of locusts and pests. The people of the village heard her words as if they were a judge’s verdict. The spirits in the plain reordered their paths. The slate sky rippled with the strong cords and piercing voice, each ripple magnifying and nullifying interfering ripples in a chaotic, yet paradoxical predictable pattern.

Time stood still on that hot Arkansas day, the village people perspired in the blistering sun, but did not move. They heard the words, but could not cipher the meanings. Granuaile played and sang with determination. She had songs that needed singing, and she was determined to sing them all.

In time, the singing and strumming stopped. The people looked around sheepishly. Granuaile returned to her cabin to rest, dulcimer in hand. The slate skies were again calm and the spirits resumed their resolute walking.

One of the villagers remarked to another as they arose one by one to return home: “That woman is crazy!”

The spirits pondered to themselves. “Who is this being to order us around as if she were God?”

Her secret love ached in the loneliness of silence that followed her departure. Could no one hear?

 

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/.

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