Later that spring, Father and I drove the cart down to the bridge, where the willow grove flanked the rushing stream. The water was still high from snowmelt, running fast and cold, smelling of ice. The willow fronds hung like lacy green curtains all around us, cutting us off from the rest of the world.
Father stood for a long time, his feet on the new green moss and the fallen brown leaves from last winter, the ax down at his side. He studied the trees one at a time.
“My master used to say that a tree would tell him if it had a harp inside it,” Father said. He stood as if listening, waiting for the trees to speak, a sad and lost look on his face, as if he never truly thought they would. As if the magic of talking to trees had been lost forever when his master died.
I stepped to one of the willows and put my hand on the wrinkled, pale grey bark. I smelled its damp, green, woody smell and waited, almost expecting to hear words. Nothing. Another tree, and then another, I walked among them, brushing them with my fingers, stepping over their roots, gazing up at the tiny flecks of sunlight filtering down through their thick green manes.
A memory of music flitted across my mind, only a brief phrase, and then it was gone.
I stopped and put my hand back on the last tree I’d touched, then pressed my ear to its cool, rough bark. I wrapped my arms all around the trunk. It was wide enough that my fingers couldn’t quite touch on the far side. Deep within the wood I could hear a creaking, the sound of the branches moving in the wind. Then, within the deep music of the wood, came that sweet strain of harp song again.
“This one, Father!” I said, “This is the one.”
Most of the serials I do for Story Flare are published consecutively, but this one's been coming in scattered pieces. Here's a link to the beginning of the story, and from there you can follow the links to read the rest.