The new day came and the new day went, seemingly uneventfully enough. The villagers went about their daily lives in the usual manner and the children played as they had done every day for many a day. However, there was a buzz of excitement and uncertainty in the air; the talk of the adults was full of questions about the feral girl’s visit and the children’s games were full of dancing.
Lilanthro herself spent the day in nourishing solitude, wandering the forest and reacquainting herself with its mysteries. She walked, she ran and she danced her way through the dark avenues of trees, in and out of clearings with their patches of welcoming sunlight, and across the many streams in her path. She took her time doing exactly what she knew best how to do; being with the forest, feeling its every breath, following its slow, patient pace. Just as the forest ebbed and flowed, so Lilanthro allowed herself to be at times full of movement and at times empty and still. She visited many friends, both animals and plants, and delighted in the purity of their lives. “How simple is life,” she mused, “Yet how hard and complex is the path that humans follow to find that simplicity.”
That evening she returned to the village and passed by Talas’s garden. He sat, looking as ever at peace with himself and the world, talking gently to a tender plant as it delicately closed its petals for the night. Lilanthro was not surprised when he raised his head, looked directly at her standing at the edge of the garden and gave her a wink. “Be on your way White Star, I have a feeling some people are waiting for you.”
Lilanthro smiled, nodded and ran lightly from his garden to the edge of the clearing where the village children were playing. Except, they weren’t playing their usual games. Every single child from the village was there and they sat together in a huddled group facing the forest, looking into its shadows expectantly, eyes darting towards every flicker of movement.
Lilanthro did not want to keep them waiting. She took a deep breath and let out a clear, strong note of sound that expanded as she held it, growing in volume and richness of tone. The children leapt to their feet excitedly. “She’s here, she’s here!” They called to one another as they darted forwards a few steps and then stopped to look and listen again. Lilanthro sang another pearl of sound, allowing this one to trickle from one note to another forming a short melodic line. “She’s going to sing to us!” The children called out as they collectively decided to sit and await her appearance from out of the undergrowth.
They did not wait long. Lilanthro continued her song as she moved confidently without haste out of the shadows and into the clearing. The song began slowly and gently, one note following another, some as single droplets of simple tones, others flowing into rippling melodies of more complex notes. She sat down with the children in the centre of the clearing, while allowing her hands and arms to move expressively in accompaniment to her voice. As her song continued, its richness and complexity developed, as if the first note had been but a single bud which was now opening into a many petalled flower, with the most subtle of textures held within every single unfolding petal.
The children sat like statues, transfixed by her voice and its purity. Lilanthro could sing the most delicate notes and the most curving, spiralling melodies that they had ever heard. Her voice carried them along as if on a raft being washed downstream, with their bodies instinctively leaning forwards to catch every drop of the flowing, cascading, rippling river of sound all around them. Her song washed over them, through them and into the depths of their beings. It was as tinglingly alive as the youngest and most excitable of mountain streams that comes gushing out of the ground, bursting with energy and enthusiasm as it rushes downhill. It was as rich and beautiful as a waterfall pouring itself with abandonment down into a ravine, with the droplets of water catching the light of the sun and sparkling in a thousand colours and directions. It was as wild and strong as fast flowing rapids, pushing and tumbling their way through a rock strewn course, tearing at the riverbank and tossing branches along with them in their fierce flight. It was as all encompassing and generous as a wide, mature, meandering river flowing confidently and gracefully towards the sea. And it was as deep, mysterious and life-giving as the ocean itself that delights in dancing with the sun upon its surface while hiding the most powerful of currents in its depths.
It did not take long for the village adults to arrive. They too had been waiting for Lilanthro’s return and talking quietly to each other about it. Who was this girl? Was she friend or foe? Was she here to bring joy or anarchy to the village? Some of the adults were excited at the thought of her return, some uncertain, and some with stern questions for her. But as soon as they heard her voice floating through the air towards them, their questions evaporated and they moved as one towards the clearing at the edge of the village where Lilanthro sat amidst the circle of enchanted children. The adults quietly took their places in the circle and listened as intently as the most innocent youngster present.
Once they were all settled Lilanthro began to add words to her song. Gradually the listeners could discern stories that weaved themselves in and out of the melodies. Lilanthro sang of the river. Then she sang of the forest, the mountains, the meadows and the faraway lower lands. She sang of the trees, the flowers, the bushes and the ever-dancing grass. She sang of the sun and the wind, the rain and the storms, and the ever-changing clouds. She sang of the nighttime when shadows take hold of the land and stars grace the skies above. She sang of the creatures of the forest, of the wolves and owls, eagles and bears, deer and mice, butterflies and beetles. She sang of their lives and deaths, of predators and prey, of joys and struggles, of the beauty and the ugliness of nature.
Even more gradually, the theme of her song softly changed. With words, with tone of voice, with pure notes of emotion, Lilanthro sang of being human. She sang of living and dying, of persecutors and victims, of joys and struggles, of the beauty and the ugliness of being alive. She sang sweet melodies of sadness, deep utterings of fear, fierce calls of anger and expansive choruses of happiness. She sang of the exciting, fleeting moments in life when the mind and body rejoice in being alive and she sang of the day to day continuum of living, with its chores, hardships and boredoms, when the mind and body can forget the gift it has been given. Lilanthro’s song encompassed the wide extremes of living as well as the many shades in between, the frivolous moments, the depths, the heights, the surface, the centre and the spaces behind it all.
And then, just as her song reached its peak, it began to fade away. Almost unnoticeably the many melodies sank softly down. Underneath a line of happiness lay a note of anger. Underneath a note of anger lay a line of fear. As the fear died away, a note of sadness lived and died to leave beneath it a moment of uncertainty. And beneath the uncertain note lay an open space, with the merest hint of joyfulness and peace emanating from its depths. The melodies which had sounded so strong at the height of Lilanthro’s song now showed their true ephemeral nature and evaporated away. In their place silence began to arise. Lilanthro allowed her voice to sink lower and lower in both tone and volume, and to become once again single, pure notes that hung in the air for a moment or two before fading away. As each note faded she left more space between it and the next one, so that the sound became less and the silence became more. And then at last, came the last note, a crystal, clear note of the utmost beauty and purity which flowed out of silence and returned to silence.
And then there was no more.
The villagers sat without moving or speaking for a few moments longer before they noticed that the girl was no longer present. Somehow, she had crept out of their midst and faded back into the forest while they were still absorbed by the sound of silence. Before they had even fully realised the song had begun, it was now over and it was time to go to bed. The children found their parents, the parents found their children and together they went quietly to their huts to sleep.
Lilanthro watched them from her hiding place in the trees and whispered a good night to them before tucking herself up into a comfortable position. “That is all I have. Now I must wait and see if it will be enough”, she said to herself as she lay down to sleep and await the following day.