A banjo is an excellent story writer. It’s a 5-string choose your own adventure. It’s a thriller. It’s the romance writer of stringed instruments. Go down the neck, and you get some science fiction and fantasy sounds…the bard of a space court. It’s African poetry. It’s a medical drama about a woman needing a musical cure for a rough week. The banjo is a story, and it is the cure.
Poe drew in a deep breath as she sat up, the sound of silence tickling her ears. She scanned X deck, to which she was one of the assigned residents thanks to her exotic last name of Xanadu. The only problem was that she was the only one awake amongst the dozen or so patrons that had chosen last names beginning with X. New space, new names.
As she tried to stand, her legs gave way, and Poe fell to the hard deck, smarting her tailbone in the process. She wished she had paid better attention to the literature about the process of waking up. There was a step-by-step guide to moving again. As a Scrivener, she should have appreciated the words she had been provided to have a less stressful experience on the ship. Soon, it would be her turn to write the words required for others to survive and remember this journey.
She looked around for any indication of why she was the only one awake in at this time. As she tried to stand again, she felt a whoosh above her head, nearly blowing her chin length ginger curls straight.
Poe called out with a cracking voice, “Who’s there? Or should I say what?”
She looked across the deck to a blinking control panel and a perch with a dark presence. Poe blinked her eyes until wings came into focus.
“What are you? I demand to know what has happened here.” Poe was talking to a bird…a large, black one, with coal eyes now staring in her direction. The bird was not there when Poe boarded the Lunessa for the adventure of deep space travel. She could not afford the ship, so she agreed to be a Scrivener to cover the cost of her passage.
The bird, with an agitated flap of its giant wings, swooped towards Poe, dropping a silver brick in front of her that popped open to produce another perch towering over her seat on the floor.
“Hello, Ms. Xanadu. I am glad to see you are awake. I am your Raven guide.”
Poe looked up, biting her bottom lip for a moment. “My Raven? What are you going to do about my predicament of being awake? I suppose you can call me Poe, too. Ms. Xanadu seems a little formal at this point.” Poe noted the Raven had a male accent, British in origin. She had watched movies based on Jane Austen books from the planet of Earth II.
The Raven cawed, a noise that shattered Poe’s confidence in questioning it. “Absolutely nothing. I woke you. It is time to get to work, pay off that passage you so desperately wanted, my dear. Call me Mr. Darcy. I prefer my formal name when you are addressing me, Ms. Xanadu, since we are merely at the acquaintance stage of our relationship.”
Poe rolled her eyes, studying the Raven’s wings, finally seeing evidence of robotic origins under the realistically plumed bird.
“Mr. Darcy, if you could so kindly tell me about the work required of me, then maybe we can proceed to the less formal friendship stage.”
“I am afraid I cannot do that. It must remain a mystery.”
“That’s ridiculous.” Poe was done sitting. She willed her legs to stand so she could look this daft bird in the eyes. When she stood fully, locking her legs and ignoring the swirl of her head, she was still slightly shorter than the impromptu perch.
“A mystery you say? Is there somebody that can help me solve this mystery then, bird brain?”
“Ms. Xanadu, that is a touch rude, don’t you think? You must not fan the flames of discord upon first meeting with someone, after all.”
“I hate to break it to you, but you are a robotic bird, remarkably realistic, but not to the point where I would worry about causing offense. I just want to know why I am awake and how I can get back to sleep.”
“I will ignore your slight. You have been asleep for two years. Perhaps your manners are still asleep. If you follow me, I will set you on the path to solving this mystery. Please grab your writing instruments of choice for you shall document the solving of this mystery.”
Poe grabbed her mental typewriter from the internal pocket of her still open sleep pod and placed little white discs in her ears and a tiny white patch on each temple. Mr. Darcy yawned causing Poe to smirk. While she didn’t want to obey Mr. Darcy, she needed to play along to understand her current troubles.
The glass doors of X deck opened as Mr. Darcy flew and Poe followed. They stepped out onto the circular walkway that was alphabetically the 24th circle up from the ground level of the ship. Poe stepped to the edge of X and looked down into the vastness of the ship, noting there were others roaming on circles below her. She then looked up and saw a man leaning over Y deck waving down to her.
Poe let out a sigh and looked at Mr. Darcy who was now floating at the center of the circle slightly below her eye level, not even bothering to flap his wings like a real bird.
Poe had to shout slightly over ambient engine and control noise. “Now what?”
“There is no need to shout at me, Ms. Xanadu. It is quite simple. You solve and document the mystery of why you are awake along with these other passengers. If you are successful, as judged by me in two days’ time, then you all can go safely back to sleep. If not, you will all meet eternal sleep, but we will still have your story to read either way.”
“I did not agree to this.”
“Most unfortunate that you did not read the fine print.”
Poe ran and jumped into the circular void, pulling off one of Mr. Darcy’s wings on her way down.
She imagines the possibility under the cover of her flaming locks.
It cannot take the glow of Spring’s first warm light on my winter skin.
It cannot tilt my heart on the axis it spins.
It cannot lay claim to the adventures of my mind.
It, therefore, will not win.
It will lay bare our faults and our fears.
It has no soul. About nothing it cares.
It will ravage the old and young the same.
It will expose our mistakes and immortal shame.
And when it’s darkness towers over us, and a last stand remains,
Rush boldly we will, shedding its chains.
It cannot, it will not, it should not transpire,
A dimming of our humanity’s fire.
It cannot, it will not, it should not conspire,
For we are glass blown into steal, forged from this same fire.
I can still feel the sun’s heat on my face,
even when fear wrestles with grace.
I can still see love in another’s eyes,
while facing the darkness of demise.
I can still water a flowering bud,
as my emotions get swept away by the flood.
And I can still believe today will be tomorrow,
when my heart mends from subsuming sorrow.
In the quiet of the night
In the hole of the soul
In the alley where it lived
Under the moon covered in clouds
The sadness it did bring,
Pulling the stitches of the world
Infecting the tears of many
While living in the body untold
Through the darkness it spread
Killing wisdom with a stone
But through it all a tiny light did glow
And with it, brought hope
Small and grand gestures brought healing
Like vitamins from the sun
And the virus disappeared
Into the cave from which it did come
For humanity is the strongest medicine of all
Dropping joy like seeds
Which turn into trees
Growing through the seasons of her life
The leaves unfold
Each a story told
A canopy from the essential strife
When comes her last call
A final leaf in the fall
It will cut with a silent knife
She can turn the world with her smile.
Her heart, a song, coloring your eyes with something better.
She is fiercely kind and kindly direct.
Swiftly tilting her head, she questions the patriarchy.
A poet mathematician. A singer scientist. A musician doctor, healing your tired mind with her laughter.
She is precisely messy, delightfully charged, a force of joy.
A daughter, sister. friend to all.
She is water,
Flowing, dripping, dropping, water-falling.
Washing the inequity from the streets of
She’s a tidal wave, a force to level out
the wrong done upon her sisters.
The tides are made of her opinion.
You can bathe in her beauty, her fresh, pure springs.
She crashes, white, frothy surf, commanding
the attention of her audience on the beach.
She is holy water. She is nature.
You must drink her for life.
She is water,
Cascading, swirling, drowning in strife.
“Can I get directions to the end?,” she asked.
“To find End, go back to Began,” he replied.
“Take no baggage or holes in your heart. Sometimes you go to End to find where you start.”
She huffed, and she ranted, as the curious man strode away.
For she would not be able to make the end today.