Two summers ago a merchant had passed by a little town called Hoschsburg and had told a tale to all those that passed his stall of a creature that lived in waters that ushered safety net for said little town and could grant any wishes, no matter how unprecedented, long as it liked the melody of the seeker, the melody didn’t have to be as flawless as those of performers but should have the soul as pure as that of a worshiper. The merchant only passing along stories he too could not testify to was only storytelling to capture buyers but to Katherine Colony, a young maiden burdened by her mother’s illness that the town doctor had declared incurable was desperate for any measure of hope and held onto that faith though she knew the probability of such a creature’s existence were none. To her, the clouds above her sky were parted and ray of sun could be seen. The day she heard the story, she ran home bumping into others and singing apologies wholeheartedly till she reached her house.
“Mother, I might have come upon a miracle.” She told her mother excitedly who laid frail on her sickbed covered with many sheets. She sat on the stool by the bed and took her mother’s hand into hers,
“Mother, you are to get well soon. In the river, the merchant said there’s a creature that could cure you if I went and sang for it. It could like my singing. I know I sing horribly but if it did, it would grant us a miracle Mother. I ought to try for your health after all. Isn’t this the great news we’ve been hoping for?” She kept going with her mother listening and the poor woman besides not having strength; had no heart to tell her the merchant only told those stories for marketing purposes, as everyone in town would only take them as superstitions or stories told at the theatre.
In her mother’s heart, Florence Colony wanted to capture all the innocence her daughter wore and die peaceful for having given birth to such an angel. She watched the smile on her daughter’s heart shaped face, her brown eyes sparkling almost covered by bangs her bun couldn’t contain, her blue satin gown complimented her innocent aura all the more; It mesmerized her even though she had no strength to lift her hand and tuck them behind her ear.
“Don’t worry Mother, soon you will be busking under the sun and giving orders to maids on what to make for dinner.” Katherine said to her Mother, oblivious of the content in her eyes.
“Alright Mother, I’ll go tell Ms Flora what to make for dinner; I bought a lot from the market. Papa was saying we should change the menu tonight, he might be bringing guests.”
She left her Mother and went to find Ms Flora, were she retold everything that had happened at the market.
Soon Katherine started going to the river each morning, singing by the riverbank; though her voice made the birds around start to fly away and the air around the river still, she sang without any reservation that the air had started to welcome her. One morning turned to one week, one week to one month, one month turned to one summer then one summer turned to two but still her mother’s illness was not getting any better, it remained still. People in town had already voiced their opinions to her and she too had started to doubt if such a creature truly existed, yet in her heart though she’d always been naive, she had started to truly believe something lived in the river.
“Katherine my dear, you should stop going to the river now. I will not blame you, I know you were devoted and the creature too will know. See, I’m no longer uncomfortable, perhaps it did aid in some way.” Her mother soothed one morning seeing her too discouraged. She couldn’t bear to see her angel’s naivety being unveiled by herself, the helplessness made her all the more bitter.
“Yes mother, this is the last morning I’m going to the river. I too feel I’ve done all I could, perhaps my wish going unanswered simply means I have not enough faith. Alright mother, I’ll be leaving.” Florence watched her daughter’s disappearing figure with a lump in her throat, lately Katherine had been losing her cheerfulness with a solemnity that her peers did not possess. Girls her age were worrying about what sort of husband they would be marrying and her daughter, her daughter was the mock of town because of going to the river to sing to a nonexistent creature she heard of from an alcoholic merchant only for her mother’s sake. Florence Colony let tears she had been swallowing for two summers fall silently; she had failed to give her daughter a prosperous, carefree life.
On the river bank, Katherine took out the plastic with bird food she feed birds at her house out; took some out and tossed them into the water. She did this for some time not speaking only looking at the river solemnly.
“I, I cannot come here anymore. Because the town’s talk has gotten to father’s ears and he threatened to stop buying mother’s medicine you see. So, today is my last time visiting you. I hope you understand my qualm and don’t take it out on mother.” She remained quiet for the remainder of her visit only tossing bird food into the river, when the food was finished in the plastic; she packed herself up and left. After taking a few steps from the river, she turned and said;
“I do not blame you, do not think so. Mother has been ill way before I was born. It is the cause of her life and perhaps, I held blame on me that I couldn’t truly dissipate and became selfish involving you.” She poured what she’d never said to anyone before; Katherine indeed had always wondered if her birth had prolonged her mother’s illness. She cried out all her grievances there, took it all out in her last day by the river, let it take all her burdens and forgive her for being too selfish. When all her crying subsided, she said calmly to the river with all her strength;
“I never doubted your existence. I hope another comes to sing for you from now on…” She ran from there.
Later when dinner was being served, unannounced rain poured horribly out of nowhere. The Colony family gathered for supper and Florence was carried from her bedroom by her maids to the dinner table. The usual quietness of dinner flirted with the pouring, only Katherine’s father seemed to be at peace. After everyone settled Jacobson Colony, Katherine’s father asked her;
“Are you done with your river saga now?”
“Yes Father.” She answered quietly.
Midway dinner a loud knock came from their door, the butler answered and came to announce a visitor.
“Let him in.” Replied Katherine’s father.
A handsome man was ushered in, so very handsome Katherine could not take her eyes off of him. From all the men in town she’d never seen one quite as him, almost ethereal, a beautiful man indeed. His built was that of a soldier, his face that of a prince her mother used to read to her when she was younger, with hair thicker and darker than hers; and eyes the colour of summer midday sky.
“Yes Sir?” inquired Katherine’s father.
“I was travelling to the next town and the rain caught us midway, this is the only house near where our carriage collapsed. I’m a doctor; if Sir could do me the favour of housing me and my companions for a night perhaps I would return it later?”
And Katherine Colony utterly mesmerized, knew her wish had not gone unheard.