A Song in the Rain

by S.B.

Tags: #cw:protagonist_death #fantasy #love #m/f #mind_control #supernatural #music

What is this song only Darren hears and why?

The storm raging outside was unlike anything the village had ever experienced, almost as if the skies were breaking in half to welcome a new flood to wipe out all of mankind for good. Adding to that, the fierce winds blowing from every direction and the lightning that cracked the night with their beautiful, yet scary streaks of light, were clear warnings that no one should be alone in the streets and that doing so was sure to bring an untimely death.

However, there was one person willing to risk it, walking at a steady pace amidst the torrential downpour with a sense of finality. How that was possible no one knew for sure, but there were speculations galore inside Emily Blaine’s diner.

“There he goes again,” said Craig Matthews, a regular customer, as he pierced through a window. “I thought this awful weather would put an end to his obsession once and for all, but I was wrong!”

“In that case, pay me the twenty bucks you owe me, Craig!” Emily retorted, a strong woman in her early fifties who loved winning bets more than anything else in the world.

Craig gave her the money with a disgruntled look, stirring the curiosity of a foreigner who was driving by the neighborhood when his car had stopped working right in the center of the storm. He had found shelter there and now looked forward to the opportunity of hearing an eerie story.

“May I ask whom you are talking about?” he inquired, sipping a cup of hot, black coffee that warmed up his loins. “Who’s out there, defying the elements?”

“That would be our local eccentricity,” Emily answered as she served herself a glass of Scotch. “Every village has one, Mr.….?”

“Oh, I am sorry. Reynolds. My name is Andrew Reynolds,” the man said, showing a smile of perfect white teeth.

“What is it you do for a living, Mr. Reynolds?” another customer joined the fray, a short, old man with a thick beard that seemed to have sprung from a fairy tale of sorts.

“I am a reporter for The Garden. I was on my way to Cleas to make a piece about the flower festival that starts tomorrow, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get there in time.”

“If the weather continues like this, I say you will most likely not be able to get out of here, soon, Mr. Reynolds.” agreed Craig.

“Call me Andrew.”

“Okay, Andrew,” Emily said as she prepared another cup of coffee. “Let me tell you the story of our countryman, Darren Hayes, then. He’s the one out there, chasing a delusion, and everything started seven years ago, on a stormy night like this one, when he lost his wife in a car crash near the old Rose Cottage next to the Willowing Forest. It was a tragic thing, no doubt about it… she was driving home from work when she lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a centenary tree. She died right away, they say.

“Anyway, Darren, who had always been a dear member of our community, was devastated and the grief led him to cut all ties with everyone else. He needed time on his own to begin the healing process and so we respected his wishes.

“Right after the burial, he began making daily visits to the place where she died, sometimes ‘talking’ to her or crying by the tree, hoping to find solace that never came. That is when he lost his mind.”

“What do you mean?” Andrew asked, adjusting himself on the seat.

“Like I said, he didn’t want to talk with anyone after what happened, so imagine my surprise when one day he came barging in with the eyes of a madman, saying he heard the most beautiful song by the ancient tree and that, afterward, the world opened before his eyes in a shower of petals….”

“… and that he had been blessed with the visit of an angel or a fairy smiling at him, go figure!” Craig concluded.

“He tried to show us all what he had witnessed and got the whole town following him to the cottage but when we got there, we didn’t see a thing,” said the old man.

“Okay….” muttered Andrew. “I think I can see where this is going. I bet he goes to that place every single day, hoping to see whatever he thinks he saw again, am I right?”

“You sure are,” Emily nodded. “He claims he hears her song, although he’s the only one. His hope is that someday, this ‘angel’ will appear again.”

“And then what?”

“I do not know, maybe free him from his misery, I guess…. All that is certain is that he claims he must follow the song, as if it controls him, somehow, and every day he does so, whether in rain or snow and then sits by that tree and waits….”

“That is a sad story….” Andrew mumbled. “You never tried to call him to reason?”

“We did!” Craig exclaimed. “But he doesn’t listen to us anymore, see? All that exists in his head now is that fixation and, one day, he will die out there.”

Andrew looked at him, resigned. He had hoped for a quirkier and livelier tale but all he had heard was the story of a poor man’s slow descent into madness and regretted asking the dreadful questions leading to it to begin with. Having lost someone in his life not so long ago too, he knew of the pain and suffering one experienced and how those emotions could be dangerous. In secret, he prayed that Darren Hayes could find the peace he was after, even if only in a fantasy of the mind.

* * *

Unaware of all the things being told about him at that moment, Darren kept on walking, in utter defiance of the laws of Nature. The song in his head had become louder over the last couple of days, and he was sure something grandiose was about to happen. Against all odds, he survived the walk until he reached the old cottage. Once a beautiful place, it was now a shamble, left at the mercy of the elements, but the tree that had claimed his wife’s life still stood there. Leaning against the bark, he cried, his acid tears indistinguishable from the cold rain.

“Oh, Sarah…”

His eyes were shut when it happened, yet he could perceive the strange vibration in the air. Beneath his feet, there was a small tremor and then, a beam of impossible, ethereal light enveloped him. Multicolored petals fell upon his head and arms when the tree opened from within and a beautiful red-haired woman wearing a dress of golden and green leaves appeared, the same magnificent vision he had seen all those years ago.

Overwhelmed with her radiance, Darren almost felt his heart stopping and, it was with great difficulty he spoke:

“Y-You are he… re… I… heard your song all these years… W-who are you?”

She didn’t answer right away, instead looking at him with beautiful, crystalline eyes. An unexpected kiss on his forehead caused something unimaginable to happen: not only did his tears dry, but the storm also subsided, albeit only where they both stood.

“My name is Rosanna,” she said with a pure voice. “I am a guardian of the Willowing Forest, a wood-nymph as you humans call us, and I was asked to be your strength and guide until the time was right, Darren.”

“I… I don’t understand. What… are you t-talking about?”

“Today is the seventh anniversary since your wife passed away, is it not?”

“Yes,” he answered, head hanging low.

“Then today will be the last day you’ll hear me sing. That is why I revealed myself to you once again…” she continued.

“I am lost. Please, you have to tell me what this is all about!”

“I think she is the one who should answer all of your questions.” Rosanna smiled and faded away.

“Wait, what does that…?”

“Darren?” said a familiar voice from behind him.

He turned away and was dumbfounded by what he saw. Floating ever so gently next to him, wearing a natural dress of red and brown leaves very similar to Rosanna’s had, was his wife, just the way he remembered her.

“Sarah?! But how can…? This is impossible!!! Am I dead?”

“No, my dear…. You are very much alive and so am I once more.” She approached him and wrapped her arms around his waist. He could feel her skin, touch her hair and smell her perfume and know that as strange as that was, she was real and not just a figment of an insane mind.

“Oh, my God! I do not understand what is happening, but I am so glad you’re here!” He said as he cried again.

“I know. So am I. I missed you like crazy, you know? But I think it is time for you to know the truth….”

“And what truth is that?”

“Well, I think it should be obvious by now that I am not human. I never was and never can be.”

“You are a nymph just like Rosanna, aren’t you?” he asked.

“Yes. One that many years ago, chose to live upon this earth because of you…. Because I met you and fell in love with everything you were and still are. I gave up part of my essence to be with you and I never regretted it. But one day….”

“You died.”

“The part of me that was human did, yet the rest of my spirit lingered on, attached to the trees of the forest, rebuilding itself. My last mortal thought was a prayer to Rosanna, one of my ‘sisters’. I asked her to take care of you, to make sure you did nothing foolish until I could become whole once more, a process that lasted only seven days in my perception of time, yet seven years according to yours.”

“Is that why she sang?”

“Yes. Her voice has many powers, including the one to captivate human minds, just like the legendary mermaids, and I was certain that if she sang to you, you would still be around when I recovered. I am sorry for what I put you through, Darren, but I couldn’t afford to lose you. You are my soul mate after all!”

“And you are mine,” he admitted, holding her tight and wanting nothing else than that feeling for eternity.

“I can never reclaim a human body again. My spirit is bound to the Willowing Forest now, so I can not stay with you here, but….”

“Say no more,” Darren replied, knowing deep inside he wanted to be by her side, forever. “What must I do?”

“Are you sure?”

“I will do whatever it takes to be with you! These seven years were the most painful of my life and if you think I am letting you disappear from my life for good, you are wrong, Sarah! What must I do?” he insisted.

“All you have to do is listen…,” Rosanna said, her voice echoing in the tree’s branches, its roots, and inside his mind. The song she sang was a different one, much mellower and somewhat poignant. However, to the ears of both lovers, it was a gift of everlasting peace.

* * *

On the very next day, when the sun shone again, a group of villagers walked the path leading to Rose Cottage, with Elaine and Craig leading it. Andrew Reynolds tagged along, after deciding to forgo his story at Cleas for a chance to see Darren Hayes face to face, and perhaps help him deal with his pain in whatever way he could.

He did not have the chance to do so for when the group reached its destination, all they found was his dead body sitting against the tree, holding a pair of red leaves in both hands. He had passed away during the night though there was no clear sign of the cause of death. That his clothes were dry proved to be an unsolvable mystery in the years to follow.

The most peculiar thing of it all, though, was the smile on his lips, a sign of extreme happiness at the time of his ultimate demise. Bliss warmed Andrew’s heart when he saw that expression, but he felt even more content when he heard the subtle echo of a woman’s voice carried by the wind and knew for certain in his heart that Darren’s so-called delusions had been true all along.

((I hope you had fun with this little tale. I always do when writing. Want to have more fun with me? Support my site - https://www.sbspellbound.net - through my patreon page - https://www.patreon.com/sbspellbound - and it can be yours, because you’ve yet to see everything I can create. Feedback is always welcome at my e-mail address, too: sbstories@hotmail.com. Thanks in advance.))

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