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In The Club Voting

Choose Your Favorite   

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The doors to the young king of Draiwen’s office stood open, as they always did when he was in. The silence in the room was broken only by the scratch of a quill on parchment as he strove to work through the day’s reports. Summer was coming to a close, and if this winter was anything like the last, the people would help to see it through. Organizing and transporting the required materials would be a costly endeavor, undoubtedly made more difficult by the nobles who were still so stuck in their ways of greed that they remained obstinately blind to the people’s need. It would be a challenge. But every day since his brother’s death, barely two months past, had been a challenge. Niclas, as the second son, had neither the preparation nor the want to be king. Especially not in such troubled times.


But he was, so he would do his best. Even if that meant most of his time was now spent behind this accursed desk reading reports, writing responses, and holding meetings. Far away from his wife’s loving embrace, or what remained of the cheery youth of his little sister, or even the haunted eyes of his dear cousin. This work was for their better tomorrow. He just had to remember that.


And then drifted in soft notes on the air. The plucked strings of a harp announced themselves, and within seconds, he recognized the piece, and the hands that brought it all to life. His wife must have found a moment of time for herself to sit and play, and with enough kindness and consideration to play within earshot. A soft smile came to his lips. How long had it been since he last heard her play? It felt like ages. Oh, how he used to love to sit and read in the room with her as she practiced, the voices of poets set to the beauty of strings pulled by talented fingers.


The words on the page in front of him blurred, his attention now pulled by only one thing. He set the quill down, and nodded lightly to the music, knowing the paths the notes would take and reveling in the trails they left in their wake. He missed the simpler days when he could just enjoy the splendors of music at his leisure.


Barely conscious of the motion, he stood from his desk, and made his way out into the hall. The music was stronger here, bouncing effortlessly off of the stone walls of the castle. He was vaguely aware of the guards outside his door closing it behind him as he made his way towards the source of the music, thoughts now turned from times of watching her play to times when she stood with him, the air heavy with music from another. Of times when their steps were aligned, and the world was made only for them. He yearned for the return of those times, but in his heart he knew many dark days awaited him before then.


He found himself standing just beyond the room in which his wife played. The door was open, but he stopped himself short of drifting in. He did not want to interrupt, so he lingered just out of sight, leaning against the wall with his eyes closed, just listening. Hanging on each note as it came to him.


Not long after, the song ended, and he was left with a choice. Enter the room and steal this time with his wife when there was so much left to do, or return to his office in silence, hopeful to hear more while remaining so distant, so buried. His smile warmed as he decided, and he stepped through the doorway, eyes finding and resting naturally on his wife. The work would still be there after. And besides, what was the point of living today if all he had to enjoy it by were the memories of yesterday?


Here is the song he hears.



I remember the first time I saw my father smile like it was yesterday. The first time i saw even the flicker of the man my grandparents and uncle promised up and down he was. He'd sit at my birthday at the table, a dead space in the middle of laughter, and knock back three bottles then leave somewhere in the middle of the second hour without saying goodbye. But that wasn't him, they said. You have to love him until he finds himself again. 


I remember it like it was yesterday. The weight of my uncle's hand on my shoulder as he squatted down to whisper in my ear. "You ready?" Out of the corner of my eye, I watched him shift the tone arm on the record player my grandparents had gotten when they were young.


He wrapped an arm around me and tugged me close, plopping his heavy chin into the blond curls at the top of my head. He turned the volume way down so that we could barely hear it and then up a decibel or two and we waited. Then again, a decibel or two. But I didn't know for what except that he pointed at my father, immobile and staring into the middle of the room, observing, lost deep in a memory I hated. A memory, I didn't have that now defined his very existence. 


It was my father's thumb that heard the music first. The tap, not anxious, against his leg, but rhythmic. Tap tappity tap tap. The pointer finger was next, against that hateful bottle that everyone except me forgave him for.


And then he moved. The hand, still wrapped around the bottle, touched my grandfather's shoulder. "Dad, you hear that?" He asked. Before the older man could get his words out, my father added, "Did you finally buy a worthwhile album?"


The old man's eyebrows knit together, and he shook his head. No on both counts; no offense taken. In fact, I remember, he looked happy to be spoken to, even if it was brash and rude.


"Your daddy's got Apollo's soul." My uncle confided, still holding me in that tight bear hug that feels like safety for a child. And then my father did something miraculous. He abandoned that bottle on the table in his search for satisfying the itch in his ears. My uncle turned up the music to give away our position. 


"No, don't!"  I wanted to shout, but I didn't, because my uncle was still squeezing me, and I trusted him.


"Jesus." My father's eyes rolled, "where the hell did you get that?" He moved closer and my Uncle relented as my father scooped me into his arms, rocking me back and forth to the raucous sounds that had brought out this demeanor I had never seen before. "This is the best band of all time." He told me. I agreed, of course, but not for the same reasons.





She looked at herself in the mirror, the tight fitting costume she wore almost scandalous if she was doing anything other than she was.  The white silk clung to her, showed off her slim waist, her long, muscled legs and her toned arms.  She had her hair pinned in a way that it hung free down her back but would not get in her way.  She was ready, she was always ready to perform, it was what she was born to do.  Naamah had blessed her, as had Eisheth with the gift of creation.  And even though she was not bound to the House anymore, she took on requests for performances, though she could pick and choose them as she wished to now.  And this one she had not been able to give up, it was too tempting.


She heard her name announced, and so she moved on out to stand in place.  There was a sheer curtain hanging between her and the audience, candles light this side to let them see her movements, though not much more due to her outfit.  She had to keep some modesty, did she not?  She stood next to the two streams of red silk that hung down from the high ceiling as she waited for the music to start.  Her cue to move.  Her heart was beating hard in her chest, though not fast.  She was not nervous, she just wanted to get up into the air and then she would feel free.


The first notes of the music started, and Orianne moved, wrapping her hands into the silk and then began to climb, making it look easy to those in the audience to "ooooh'd" and "ahhh'd" at her, and sh knew they would and ask her to teach them, and she would consider as so many would see how hard it was to do this, and they would all give up after one lesson.  They would need to truly desire to know how it felt to fly to want to do this, and this was why she was the only one performing like this in the realm.


She hummed along to the music, her movements coming almost by rote, as a dancer moved to the beat, her body twisted and turned, wrapping itself in silk as she hung, swayed and flew through the air.  Her movements built into a crescendo to match the music, her breathing becoming harder, her mind almost freeing itself as a bird would in flight.  She smiled, as she hung at the end, listening to the applause ring out around the hall before heavy velvet curtains fell into place and blocked her from sight.  


She hung there, wrapped in the feeling of the applause and silence of the music that had finished now.  She sighed, feeling the sadness that she always felt when the dance was over.  She slid down the silk, and moved to the room put aside for changing, feeling caught on the ground once again, feeling trapped and bound.


The Music & Performance


“By the pricking of my thumbs, 
Something wicked this way comes.” 
― William Shakespeare, Macbeth

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