As a light fell toward her from the stars, a light bearing the purpose that would shift her life, the Musician stirred her soup. She sat idle, letting conversation wash over her like a slow-waxing tide. The words drifted past her with indifference. They buzzed about her head, the repetitive gnats of a Gray City, souls trapped in an world without art.
No need to listen. Though the words might change, shift from moment to moment, their content was always the same. The same empty talk of those with nothing to look forward to but labor, lust, and a final languor in the grave. In the days and weeks prior, she would have indulged in these conversations, shared in the smiles and laughter, the drink and merriment that papered over the emptiness that haunted them all. But now… the Musician felt set apart, like there was something more that called to her. And there was, a new thing drifting toward her in the wintry night, a new song she pieced together bit by melodious bit.
Her metal spoon kissed the lip of the porcelain bowl with a whine and tremor that beguiled her far more than friends' chatter, who spoke of work and gossiped about lovers. Who walked the same patterns over and over, She took the sound, the constant tang, and married it with the world around her, picking rhythm and pitch from the din.
The whine married with the hammer clanging outside, the repetitive clang of metal on metal on wood, which married with the shovel scraping against the gravel through the snow. The thump of snow gathering in piles on the side of the city’s streets. The revving motors of cars pulling and out of the tavern lot, the beat of patrons drying their boots on the welcome mat by the entrance. The crackle of the flame in the fire place, the fizz of drinks poured tall. These noises danced with the tavern’s swell, the muted laughter of those seeking joy, even in these bland and troubled times.
But still something was missing.
That something drifted toward her, the conceit, the understanding that unified disparate sounds and made them something more. The human element, excised from within them long ago, one that only just now found its way back into the world. It was consciousness and intent, the intelligence that harnessed these sounds, reordered the chaotic clamor and uncovered the beauty beneath. The spark hovered closer, and closer, and the Musician approached the precipice of the first new song.
It landed. And the Musician began to hum.
She understood then what it was. A name bubbled up from within... music... an atavastic recollection of her ancestors. They sang, inspired by the wind, or the waves, or the beat of their own lives. They created instinctively, an instinct lost in the purported artless paradise this gray city claimed to be, an instinct the musician had now regained.
She rose suddenly, knowing it was her charge to spread this memory far and wide. It was her duty to compose, to arrange, to…
Suddenly she realized what was missing. The facet around which all the separated sounds, that slowly waltzed together and then apart in her head, seeking an order that did not quite exist, could be fashioned into something greater than the sum of their parts. The component had existed within her all along. It existed, presumably, within everyone: her own voice.
Ignoring the odd looks from her colleagues, the Musician, lighted by the blue fire of inspiration, feeling a song swell up from her forgotten depths, exited the tavern. She walked into the snowy street, into the cold. She heard the howl of the wind, and the wet crunch of the snow beneath her feet.
And, smiling, she began to sing.