The Gift: A novel

My project for A man finds himself alone on a paradisical island where has has no need to work to support himself. His life is spent transforming the island.

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Location: Los Angeles, United States

I am an awkward, stubborn, slightly insane woman who would rather talk Plato than Prada, rather watch Frank Capra than Carrie Bradshaw, and rather listen to Norse myths sung in Icelandic than anything currently on the radio. Yeah. Told you I was weird.


Monday, November 29, 2004

19: Siren

As the moon sunk in the sky, the two men slept, each lost in dreams.
In his dream, Cobb found himself wandering through a forest, where the sun shone golden and dim through the leaves. As he wandered, he heard a sweet song drifting through the trees. He found himself moving toward the sound, and soon came within sight of the songstress. She sat under a tree, half hidden in its shade. As he came nearer, her song became more piercing, and he reached out to her. She extended a hand to him, and enclosed his fingers within her own. He was captivated by the song, and did not notice her fingers growing and sprouting tendrils, which slowly wound around his arms. As she sang, she grew, body twisting and sprouting branches. Her skin grew rough and grey, and as she became more and more treelike, she drew him further and further into her embrace. A few more moments, and he would be completely lost within the barky trunk of the tree.
But then, in a sunny corner of the clearing, a small daisy sprouted, and quickly grew into the form of a young girl. The girl looked at Cobb, and cried out. He awoke from his trance and began to struggle with the tree, wrenching his arms free from the enclosing branches. The young girl began to sing, a song that was as joyful and glorious as the other’s was haunting and mournful. The two songs strained at each other until Cobb felt as though he would break, torn between the two. Then, as if an electric shock had passed through him, he awoke, and looked around desperately.
Dranger dreamed as well. He found himself standing by the ocean, waves crashing around him. He heard a song, as hollow and resonant as a note blown from a conch shell. He looked around, seeing no-one, then felt a touch at his feet. He looked down, and saw a beautiful maiden in the water. She was golden-haired and young, and her song flowed into his ears like water into a vase. He knelt down, bracing his hands against the shore, listening to her song. She reached out of the water to touch his hand, and he thrilled to her touch. She drew his hand slowly into the water, submerging it to the wrist, and then to the elbow.
Suddenly, a ray of light from the cloudy sky struck a rock far out in the ocean, and up from it sprang a woman, dark-haired and brown-eyed. She looked on Dranger with pity, and began to sing, a melody as strong as rock, and as golden and warm as the other’s was cool and hollow.
Dranger suddenly shook himself, and tried to pull back from the mermaid’s grasp, but her grip was as strong as steel. Her eyes grew cold and fishy, and her soft body began to sprout knife-edged scales. She grinned, and Dranger shuddered in horror to see a row of long needle-like teeth. The woman on the rock sang more strongly, her voice echoing over the waves, drowning out the crash of the breakers.
The two songs collided, drawing the water up into a great wave in the middle of the sea. Suddenly, the wave began to move; it crashed into Dranger with the force of a freight train. He awoke suddenly and completely gasping for breath, beside him, Cobb did the same.
The sun rose in blinding brightness in the east, and the songs of the birds reached a crescendo.
Arthur tossed and turned upon the grass. The night was warm, and he needed no covering, but his sleep was uneasy nonetheless.
He dreamed, wandering far and wide over the ocean, the stars overhead. He wandered directionless, lost for what seemed like ages. Suddenly, when he was passing over a dark forested island, he heard a song, piercing, matching the dull ache in his heart. He sank, lowering gently into the forest. There in front of him he saw a beautiful woman, golden haired and singing softly. As he watched, she slowly rose to her feet, and began to dance. Her hands waved as her words intertwined, enchanting him completely. He moved towards her slowly, and her hands reached out to clasp his. She danced around him, winding her hands over and across him. Just before she completed her circle, he heard another song interrupting hers, and started. He began to run toward the voice, hearing only for a moment the golden-haired siren’s shriek of rage; he only knew that he must follow the song. He knew that voice, and ran toward it. It lead him into the darkest part of the wood, and he tripped and stumbled across hidden vines. He could see the glowing eyes of animals hidden deep in the trees, and once heard the hiss of a snake, but ran on by, heedless of them, knowing only that he must find that voice. As the forest grew darker, the song grew louder, until he needed no other guide than the sound. And then, when he reached a point of complete and utter darkness, he stopped. "I cannot see!" he cried.
A golden laugh sounded, and a warm light began to grow around him. "I know. And here I am." Just as the light grew bright enough, he caught a single glimpse of the singer’s eyes. They shone with a light greater than the sun, but he only saw them for that one instant; with a start, he awoke, and saw the golden light all around him. He leaped to his feet, looking around wildly, but saw only the sun, rising in all its glory. He saw the golden light that it spread on the grass around him, and the way it turned the green leaves into gold. He was a man in the midst of great riches; he broke down and wept.

copyright 2004 Elizabeth J. Weaver


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