The Fox and the Fiddler
Written while listening to Tuulen Nostatus (Raising The Wind) by Sanna Kirky-Suonio.
Bjarte tapped his bow on the back of the fiddle in a slow measured beat. 'I feel the tune,' he thought to himself, keeping his eyes closed. 'I feel the tune and the music will come.'
"That is not correct," a voice told him, "You must believe you are the tune."
His eyes opened and he looked about the barn where he was practicing. He found no one near, nor far. The only living thing even close to him was their old horse Kerstin and she had her back to him as she always did when he played.
"Did you say something Stin?" he asked her.
The horse snorted and stomped a hoof not even bothering to turn around.
The boy blinked and then closed his eyes again thinking hard of the tune he was to play this weekend at the village Autumn Celebration. He could see the notes of the music but they were black and cold looking like lumps of coal.
Tap tap tap tippity tap tippity tap... he counted out with his bow on the back of the fiddle. His uncle had told him to do this in order to warm to the music.
"No," the voice told him, "You should not punish your instrument because what you wish is not flowing. Think about this; the music must flow from your mind down through your arm to the bow and then the fiddle. The more you become the song, the faster the music flows, shortening the distance from your mind to the instrument. Soon there is 'just' the instrument playing by itself and you become the tune."
His eyes opened again and he remained oddly calm. Yes, it was unusual to hear voices, but this one spoke to him of the music so it might be a good thing to listen. His grandmother once told him that only crazy people and the very wealthy spoke to themselves. He had not a penny to his name so that left 'crazy' but so far he hadn't spoken. Perhaps he was still good then.
Straw fell upon his head and he heard a very female giggle.
"So you are up in the hay loft then?"
"Who are you," he asked. "Need I be fearful?"
"Only those who are afraid need be fearful," she replied. "I think you are braver than that."
Bjarte looked over at the horse which had turned in her stall to look at him. She snorted softly and shook her head as if in agreement. Obviously she was not afraid.
Putting his fiddle under his chin he counted to four and began to play. His mind instructed and his arm moved. 'Screetch scratch scrunch iddy iddy screetch...'
"STOP! YOU ARE HURTING MY EARS!"
His body reacted before his mind even registered the command and the noise ceased.
"What color ere the notes you were playing?" she asked him, her voice sounding exasperated. He knew she was pretty because her voice was so musical sounding even when she sounded like this. The thought caused him to smile.
"They were black like coal," he replied.
"And that is one of the felled trees across your path," she near spit at him. "Music is color! It is not black and white."
"Exactly... color. Close your eyes again and play for me the blue of the sky."
Bjarte did as this strange girl instructed, envisioning the color of a summer sky. The tone his fiddle played was the most majestic of blues he had ever seen.
"Now play the green of the fields where the cows make their home," she instructed.
He did so and then she asked for the deep blue of the ocean, whereupon he moving among tall sailing ships making their way over froth capped waves.
The colors rolled from his being, rivaling the long swaying grasses that moved with the wind along the shores of the fiords. In short order he played every color of the rainbow and even colors in between that had never before been seen by human beings. When he stopped playing, the sound continued on in his ears for many minutes which caused his heart to smile. Opening his eyes, he found Kerstin calmly gazing at him. She shook her mane out and then nodded her huge head in approval.
"Who are you?" he asked again, playing the game of youth and courtship.
"Who do you wish me to be?" she asked back, returning his flirtatious sentiments.
"I wish you to be visible."
Small pieces of hay fell upon his head. "I will do as you have wished," she told him, "But you must earn your request. Close your eyes now and play the piece you have been practicing; but this time do not remember the musical notes... see their colors. If you do this, you will see me in what you play."
The fiddle's tune began with a simple drone, its sound magical. Vibrations of sound emanated from the very center of Bjarte's mind, flowing down his arm until it had bluish yellow tinged flames dancing all along its length. Eight short notes danced out from the throat of his instrument and the tune proper began. They were white and red and yellow, dancing upon the air like autumn leaves. He heard her sing then; her voice emulating that which he'd just played. From outside the barn the wind picked up rattling the branches of a nearby oak. This blended with the music causing sparks of blue as Kerstin shook her mane in a hushing sound of whispered voices.
The notes he played no longer flowed but transcended into a supernatural appearance of blended colors emanating from thin air. Like soap bubbles they danced in the space around his body alternately appearing and popping; leading him forward until he was standing on one side of a small glen. His fiddle under his chin, he played like he'd never played before.
Across the glen the girl appeared to him, softly clapping her hands in time with his music. Her voice easily following the music he played as she called up the wind. She was beautiful and dressed in a traditional red colored bunad which matched her swaying tail perfectly.
With the last note of the tune, Bjarte opened his eyes, slowly coming back to the barn from the glen where his mind had taken him. The image of the swaying fox tail stayed with him as a dream will upon waking if only for a few short minutes.
There was a small trickle of hay upon his head which drew his attention upwards.
Looking down at him and wearing only what could be described as a smile was a small red fox.
And then she was gone.