Spirit of the Blue Swallow

Feather Ball created by Visionary Glass Arts

In honor of my dear friend, Michelle Wallace of Writer-in-Transit, I’ve created a special tribute to the spirit of Ubuntu–a humanist ideal hailing from South Africa which, roughly translated, means “human kindness”, a beautiful idea embodying the essence of connection, community, and mutual compassion.

We live in a more interconnected world. Each of us is capable of using our skills and gifts for the greater good of humanity.

I invite you to discover the many amazing tributes of my fellow writers listed here.

Joining me in this collaborative journey is German artist, MikroMatique, also known as the brilliant cinematic composer, Sandro Schmidt, whose breathtaking music is beyond inspiring.

Featured inspirational track ▶ Tears of Angels

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The sky is ablaze with angry red streaks that claw their way across the horizon, casting the solitary structure and the surrounding bones of Baobab trees in shadows that shift with the sleeping sun.

Our salvation hovers in the space between solid and specter.

The metal rhino screeches to a halt, its armored plates slipping and sliding along the massive body. Steam rises from its snout, curling up a pair of formidable horns to collide with clouds of chalk that coat the glass.  The automaton driver snaps open the steel jaws of the carriage, jolting me from the velvet seat.

My trembling grip on Chipo’s fingers tighten, his small hand steady and sure, ignorant of the peril awaiting him. I couldn’t bear to tell him. He followed me blindly, never questioning the frantic actions dragging us halfway across the thirsty grasslands. I’ve enough fear for the both of us.

Crisp air creeps under my threadbare coat, nipping at skin laced with sweat. I pull at the leather straps near my brother’s neck, willing the fading warmth to wrap around his frail frame. He tilts his head and smiles up at me, his eyes, one a glowing amber, the other a vibrant blue, reflect an unfailing trust.

He was an unexpected gift, one we guarded fiercely for seven years. He was safe, until the day our baba and mai were killed. We were sent across the valley to my father’s brother, whose drive to drink drove his debt beyond the reach of two extra mouths. Within a week, our guardian gloated over the generous roora offered for my hand by a powerful clan near the Zambezi river.

My brother was to be sold into a life of servitude stretching far across the valley towards the east mountains–his fate left to the cruel devices of a society that will deem him damaged by the strange silence and ceaseless calm that surrounds him. They will poke and prod and pierce until his secret spills from his blood.

There is no hope for an imperfect boy in a perfect world.

So we stole away in the steel cage of the General’s son, chasing the breath of a chance to a place steeped in magic and mystery.

I edge closer to the timber and iron door, the promise of heat seeping from beneath. The slice of light grows wider with unseen hands, tendrils of sweetly-scented smoke beckoning us forward. A massive fire roars in the center of the spherical room, its flames glinting off iron rivers that run along a network of intricate symbols carved into the rough serpentine walls.

I call out into the cavernous room, my voice swallowed by a sea of glass chimes. Chipo tugs at my sleeve, his chin tilting towards the sky, eyes wide with wonder.

My gaze is drawn to the vaulted timber ceiling where hundreds of clear orbs wink in the firelight. They float above us in all manner of shapes and sizes, their centers swimming with soft, spirited colors.

“What is this place?” I ask, more to myself.

“The place where dreams are born,” a deep voice answers.

I snap my head forward to find a woman standing near the fire pit, swathed in sheer emerald robes embroidered with glowing gold that reflects the warmth of her crinkled eyes. Her ebony skin is crisscrossed with the lines of a long life.

“Where dreams are protected,” another figure appears, taking the shape of a beautiful woman near the age of our mother, her flawless features resembling sculpted Shona stone. The shimmering scarlet of her dress flickers as if made of fire.

“Where dreams take flight,” a young girl whispers from the shadows, materializing near the growing flames. The light dances on rounded caramel cheeks dusted with freckles and glints off a gossamer gown that swirls about her ankles in vivid shades of liquid indigo.

I pull Chipo behind me and back up slowly towards the door.

“No need to fear us. We mean you no harm,” the older woman offers. “Quite the opposite, in fact. I am Rutendo,  the guardian of Faith. “ She gestures towards the motherly figure. “This is Rudo, guardian of Love.”

The young ethereal girl steps forward. “And I’m Tariro, keeper of—”

“Hope,” I mumble, my mind trying to wrap around an astonishing truth . “The legends are true.” Chipo ducks under my arm to stand beside me.

“There’s a grain of truth in many myths, Mudiwa,” Rutendo smiles warmly.

“How–how do you know me?”

“We know all our children, beloved.” Rudo glances upward, sweeping her open palm towards the glittering glass.

“What are they?” I ask, following her gaze.

“They’re the hopes and dreams of every living child,” Tariro breathes reverently.

“Each feather represents the spirit behind the dream,” Rutendo says affectionately.

“Some are collective hopes—their spirits joined together to achieve a common dream,” Rudo adds, plucking a rounded ball from the air. Four multicolored feathers swirled within its crystal walls.

Like the hopes of a family, I think to myself. The broken dreams of my parents dig into the fresh wounds of their loss. I can’t do this alone. I can’t save Chipo without them.

“What troubles you so, child?” Rudo asks gently.

“My brother. He’s…a natural born. Unmodified. Unaltered,” I bite back the anxiety of long buried secrets. “My parents never reported him, or his…imperfections. Interactions with others is difficult for him. He rarely speaks…even to me. But he can sense things no one else can. See and hear beyond our capabilities, even with our genetically perfected pedigree,” I snort. “He has a gift. But our society wouldn’t take the time to understand it. Without our protection, he’ll be labeled an outcast…or worse.”

I glance at my brother, balancing precariously on a wooden stool to graze the glinting glass balls with his fingertips. A laugh escapes his lips that’s more magical a sound than the enchanting chimes falling around us.

“Other hopes belong to a single spirit, and it is up to them alone, to see it fly.” Tariro cradles a long, translucent orb in her cupped hands. Inside floats a solitary feather painted a lustrous, metallic blue. “This is a feather of the Blue Swallow—a rare and magical bird wiped from the skies over a century ago. They were the closest creatures to the divine. The swiftest flyers of the land, soaring into the sky above all others, delivering messages to the Great Spirit. They are a guide to those who are conscious dreamers, capable of greatness,” she glances lovingly at Chipo, “however misunderstood.”

Chipo hops down from the stool and walks over to Tariro, cocking his head at the fragile feather in her grasp. He brushes the glass with his fingers, a strange, knowing smile lifting his lips.

Tariro places the Blue Swallow feather into his hand. “It belongs to an extraordinary spirit. One just as rare, just as magical, who swims in the tears of angels and whispers in the ear of the divine.”

Chipo walks over to face me, the gleaming swallow feather held between us. He tilts his head and brushes away the salty rivulets running down my face. “Don’t worry, Mudiwa. I can do it,” he whispers, “I can fly.”

He opens up his palm and smiles as his hopes and dreams float back to the sky in a cascade of chimes and a child’s laughter.


© 2014 Samantha Redstreake Geary

ubuntu-blog-hop

Illumination Collaborative Flash Fiction Challenge Winners

Illuminations_Michael MaasIn the spirit of art influencing art, we joined forces in an epic collaboration where writers were given the opportunity to set their words to film composer, Michael Maas‘, inspiring music!

Michael Maas, along with fellow composers, Martin Hasseldam, David Christiansen, Sandro Schmidt and Stefano Fasce. who contributed to the “Piano and Strings Edition” industry release, read through all the entries and chose their top three favorites.

The winners will be awarded mp3 files of the five selected tracks from the exclusive film industry release “Piano and Strings Edition” as well as Michael’s new album, Illumination.

If you’ve become a slap-happy fan of Michael Maas‘ amazing music, his Illumination album is available on emusic, Amazon and iTunes!

Top 3 Winners

Nick Johns with Rise to Fall

C. Lee McKenzie with Revenge of the Earth

Lisa Shambrook with Remember Me

Congratulations to the winners and to all the incredible writers who participated in this collaborative challenge! Winnerssend me your email address to receive your music!

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Ages

lost_melody_by_reyed33-d3fs2b8

Lost Melody by ReyeD33

 

This story was inspired by the enchanting music from the upcoming film industry release, Piano and Strings Edition“, a collaborative album created by brilliant composers Michael Maas, Martin Hasseldam, David Christiansen, Sandro Schmidt and Stefano Fasce.

For details on how to contribute your own music-driven tale to the Illumination collaborative flash-fiction challenge, click HERE!

Listen to the featured track, Ages by Michael Maasin the sidebar music player.

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The world is slowly slipping into a silence that is deafening in its finality.

Life has cast its final show, the last of its players scattered, their voices fragmented and forgotten. The once vibrant landscape has vanished into the hungry mouth of devastation.

Even I grow weary of the emptiness.

I find my melancholy alarming, an affliction that gains ground with every lost sound. Every life collected pulls this land deeper into desolation. When humanity began its descent into oblivion, the music followed. The remnants of strings and keys lay discarded, their melodies abandoned.

I would surrender a thousand souls if it would bring the music back…

Yet another light dims before me. A young boy, his body battered and broken in the sugary sand, his hand still holding fast the handle of a long weathered case. I can hear the erratic rhythm of his heart as its futile beats are stolen by the greedy wind. What is it he holds so dear, that in his final moments, the last of his strength is spent on this stubborn grip.

Curious, I snap open the locks that anchor his soul.

I have not seen this particular treasure in ages.

It is an instrument of hope.

I can still hear the echoes of its past–the stale breath of its notes hovering in the oppressive air. When the boy’s shell severs its spirit, the magic in this case will cease to exist. It will become yet another trinket of a dying breed.

That is reason enough to change the boy’s fate.

I refuse to take another spirit that promises an end to the stillness. And so I surrender my claim on his life.

He will live and he will play and he will fill the void with melodies long buried…he will become an instrument of change.

It has been ages, but Death has not forgotten the power of music.

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© 2013 Samantha Redstreake Geary

Remember Me

One_Touch_by_rEyeD33

One Touch by ReyeD33

This story was inspired by the enchanting music from the upcoming film industry release, Piano and Strings Edition“, a collaborative album created by brilliant composers Michael Maas, Martin Hasseldam, David Christiansen, Sandro Schmidt and Stefano Fasce.

For details on how to contribute your own music-driven tale to the Illumination collaborative flash-fiction challenge, click HERE!

Listen to the featured track, Remember me (feat. David Christiansen) in the sidebar music player.

Written for my husband, capturing the moment we first met…


A web of luminous strands pulsate in a riot of vibrant color, a thing of beauty only I can see. I weave in between the connections, each one a different shade of love, a different song resonating in its core.

The restaurant is alive with the sounds of a hundred conversations, plates scraping, glasses clinking, laughter and music. Not the music that trickles from the ceiling, but the songs that spill from their hearts, flowing through the threads that tie them to another, a thing of beauty only I can hear…

In a corner booth, a frustrated mother endures yet another battle of wills, the sticky strings binding her soul to her children burning the brilliant white of unconditional love. A choir of children’s voices can be heard playing along the web of a families’ deep-rooted affection.

Friends, laughing over sips of plum wine are wrapped in the glistening gold of understanding and camaraderie, their comfortable song an inviting guitar being plucked and pulled to match their banter.

An elderly couple sitting at the bar shares a plate of sushi, their iridescent blue cord humming with the steady wisdom of piano strings and a steadfast bond that time cannot touch.

Young lovers embracing near the window exude a fiery passion that glows in ruby tendrils, licking at their hearts with the intensity of a violin.

Behind the scarlet flames sits a pair I almost miss, the subtle sounds of their heartbeats slipping into silence, the drumming pulse of their connection fading. Like the yellow flower centered between them, the petals of their song have dropped, one by one, until there’s nothing left but the stem–a wilting memory of the music they once shared.

They have forgotten me…

A crackle of energy pulls me to yet another table. I watch, entranced as I’m drawn to a pair meeting for the first time. The woman’s mane of auburn curls cascade down her back in ribbons of anticipation, her crimson dress matching the flush that floods her cheeks. The young man’s chiseled jaw restlessly works to calm his nerves, his striking cerulean eyes dart from her eyes to the menu, his leg tapping a nervous rhythm underneath the ebony table.

I edge closer.

Their eyes meet. The man smiles.

The smile steals her breath and swallows her heart whole.

In that instant, a flood of silver sparks erupt between them. The music is deafening. An entire orchestra surging with the flame fiercely burning through their hearts.

It is a love they shared long ago. They may not remember the lives they once lived, but they remember me.

I am a thing of beauty anyone can see, anyone can hear. I am the whisper of possibility, the promise of connection, the passion that drives creation.

Remember me.

I am Love.


© 2013 Samantha Redstreake Geary