Once there was a travelling girl. When she was 12 years old, her parents (in an effort to minimize inconvenience and keep expenses down) took her into the woods and left her there.
They had some pangs of conscience (who wouldn’t?) but consoled themselves with the thought that she would quickly and efficiently be murdered by gypsies, buried by a landslide, eaten by wolves.
Gifted with feet and voice, she passed the hours by improvising the roughest of songs, the crudest of dances.
Her dances and songs were filled with and inspired by the flapping of trees, the somersaulting of water on moss-covered rocks, the jitterbugging of fossils, the flamenco of storms, the madrigals and clumsy folk dances of the wolves who circled and sang about her sleeping head, the death-rattle droning and slinking silvershiver of the accordions and fiddles played by passing nameless Travellers.
In this manner, she spent many happy days. She ate fish and roasted goat around campfires. She dangled upside down from the branches of trees. Occasionally she would lose a life. She would be murdered by wandering social workers or accountants. She would be buried beneath avalanches of indecipherable rules, or eaten by packs of roving expectations. Always, though, she would be reborn in the forest’s womb.
One day, she knew somehow that it was time to travel. The song of leaving sang in her blood and whistled out between her teeth. Luckily, there was a narrow pathway right beneath her feet. Wanting to maybe one day find her way back to the heart of the forest, she left a trail of songs hidden along the way. She hid her songs beneath stones, in abandoned beehives, in the cracks at the back of caves, in the hollow skulls of foxes.
She walked day and night, sometimes forwards, sometimes backwards. She walked through deserts and over narrow mountain passes, coming across the occasional holy man and mad prophet. She passed through imperial bedrooms and plague-ridden slums. She walked across frozen rivers, through forbidden cities, and along the bottom of forgotten oceans. Sometimes she would catch a ride on palanquins or the shells of passing turtles. She stole bicycles and rowboats.
By way of payment for what she needed, what she took, she sang her songs into everything that would hold them: empty pockets, budding roses, open mouths, the sound hole of a lover’s guitar. She was generous to the point of carelessness with all those flowing words, all those golden notes. She knew there would always be more.
Whether she ever made it home again, the records never showed.