I only connected with D. Avery a couple months ago. I loved this story and the beautiful fairy tale quality. I think it would make a beautiful children’s book (hint hint). I hope you enjoy.
The Quill’s Magic
by D. Avery
Once upon a time there was a king who had everything necessary and much that was imaginable and who always wanted more. He had a great many servants, among them a girl who tended to the horses in the royal stable.
One day she was surprised to find that the king’s men had captured a large bird, which was kept in a locked stall in the stable. It fell to her to look after this strange creature.
She observed that every day it pulled its own feathers to make a writing quill, and every day drew its own blood to use as ink, that every day it might write its own story.
“Oh, Bird, doesn’t that hurt?”
“Yes, it hurts.”
“Because”, the bird squawked, “At this time, in this place, I have no song.”
And the girl could not get the bird to eat or drink and could not get it to stop pulling its own feathers and drawing its own blood. She could not get it to stop writing. And she could not bear the pain of its silence. She stole the king’s key and unlocked the stall door. “Go”, she urged it, “While you still have feathers enough to escape.” The bird thanked her and took flight and as it did, its written words took feathered form, and took flight, and became a great wheeling flock of birds, each one a purposeful song that filled the sky and filled the girl’s heart with joy.
The great bird circled back and landed in front of the girl. Already, with its words singing in the treetops it looked replenished, its feathers grown back in. “You did a brave thing, for the king will be very angry with you. How can I repay you? Name it.”
“Oh no”, said the girl. “You have brought birdsong back to the kingdom. That is all I need.”
“Take this.” The bird pulled a white feather and handed it to the girl. “With this quill your words will sing and your spirit will soar. And yes”, the bird said as it flew away, “There will be pain.” The girl held the quill like a white flower; she held it like a sword; she held it as the key to her own escape.
The king was angry, very angry with the sorrel-maned girl who had freed the great bird. The king was quite unused to being defied, of having anything taken from him, even things he had no right to.
“Throw her into the bird’s stall”, he commanded. “Melt the key in the forge.”
The thin morning light that slanted through the barred window illuminated her tear as it dropped. Remembering the bird, the brave and stoic bird, she reached for the white quill pinned in her hair. Her tears would be her ink. No sooner had she dipped the nib into her own teardrop than she was transformed. As a small white bird she was able to flit through the window of the stall door. Unsteady with her wings, she perched on a shelf in the stable, uncertain of what to do next.
“The spell will wear off soon. Fly down from the shelf.”
She fluttered to the straw strewn floor and sure enough, as soon as she did, she was herself again, a girl holding a white feather, facing a sorrel horse that spoke to her over the half door of his stall. “Good timing”, he said.
“But shouldn’t the magic of the quill last forever?”
“The magic does last forever”, replied the horse, “but do you really want to be a bird forever? You’re too young yet. You don’t get out so easily. But I can help you with the next part of your journey.”
As the kingdom was just beginning to rouse and attend each to their roles, the horse carried the girl rapidly away, she clinging to his mane, her own sorrel hair winging behind her. Finally the horse stopped in a wooded glade and they rested. Only now did the girl ask how it was that a horse could speak.
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