It was a warm harvest market morning as Cassinda and her friends traipsed the various stalls of produce and crafts. They kept up a continuous gleeful chatter punctuated with occasional bursts of giggling and squealing. They revelled in the attention the stall handlers gave then, particularly the young men, who would eye them off in turn. Cassinda herself was feeling the centre of attention, and clearly proud of her sun coloured hair as her every movement made it bounce and flow in the air.
The popularity of Cassinda and her friends was undeniable. Many of the vendors would overlook their silly and mischievous antics, while others seemed to prepare themselves as they approached. The girls created disruption wherever they went. Then they noticed the gathering crowd at the edge of the markets. Their curiosity was more than insatiable and they hurried to find out what it was.
As they approached, they could hear a soft melody of crisp notes. They tried identify the tune between them, but they all seemed to hear something a different. The murmur through the crowd indicated that most in attendance were impressed with the performance. The girls were determined to find out who or what was behind it.
They eagerly pushed their way through until they were able to see the man playing the silver pipe. His long black cloak was a little shabby with slight muddy stains along the bottom but of sturdy quality, and his face was shadowed by a broad rimmed hat that curved downward. His fingers danced along the pipe which he softly blew into. He did not look up at anyone. The people watched enthralled.
All too soon it seemed the music stopped, and with a flourish, the man took his hat off and held it out as if in salute and very quickly people tossed tokens of appreciation into it. Cassinda stood transfixed.
Then he looked up, and for a moment there was a gleam in his eyes, and a greedy snarl to his lips. Then it changed, like a flickering light, and he was smiling with incredible teeth, a chiselled jaw, and light dancing in his eyes. He looked upon Cassinda and his smile grew wider into something hungry, but yet again the light flickered and his smile was warm and beautiful.
I had to withdraw a distance from the memories. The flickering of the light was painful and unsettling. I had never encountered anything like this previously and it made me very uneasy. I took a moment to regain my thoughts before pushing forward.
The man looked upon Cassinda like he was seeing a long-lost treasure. He held out his hand as he step toward her.
“It appears the lords above have sent me a spirit to hear my music.” Cassinda raised her hand to his and he took it to his lips and kissed softly. “I am truly blessed by your presence today.”
Cassinda’s friends started to crowd around as the rest of the crowd slowly dissipated yet Cassinda barely noticed them. Her eyes were fixed on this mysterious man and she found it hard to breath, catching what she could in short gasps.
“In fact I am to be blessed by many fair spirits. This is a special day indeed.” He spread his hands wide welcoming them all. “I feel this may require a special treat. Shall I play for you something I have been working on? It is not yet finished but perhaps you could tell me what you think of it.”
Cassinda began to feel uneasy. She cast sidelong looks at her friends and thought how much she wished they were not there right now. Their giggling started to annoy her. The shrill screams of “Yes please!” felt like blades in her heart. Somewhere inside a voice cried out that something was wrong but the anger was already taking over. The voice of reason to soft. She was going to have tell everyone to go away.
Then he winked at her and raised the silver pipe to his lips. The rest of the world fell away as she felt the melody enter her mind, body, and spirit, moving her in a way that she had never been moved before. Emotions both familiar and foreign collided within taking her on a journey of euphoria and ecstasy. It even seemed to stimulate her physically as her body tingled in places it shouldn’t.
There was only him, her, and the music.
She thought to herself that she had never felt so alive.
Once again I had to withdraw. The images and emotions were powerful and overwhelming. The impressions Cassinda had of the pipe-player were powerful and quickly formed. The unusual flickering continued to trouble me but I was unable to explain it, yet I didn’t feel it was anything good. Instead of pushing forward, I instead asked Cassinda what happened after.
Images of the man being very attentive to her and then departing down the street fluttered past me. With a last look back, he tipped his hat and turned a corner. Cassinda stood in the middle of the street for a long while. Her friends wandered off and she barely noticed. I pushed forward again, immersing myself in the moment.
Cassinda felt numb and lonely. She stared after the beautiful man long after he had gone. There was an urge to go after him, yet she could not move her feet. Then a cold tingling swept over her from her head to her toes. The feelings subsided and she was able to breath easy again. She continued to think of the beautiful man and his music. She smiled to think he had winked at her, and kissed her hand. He hadn’t kissed anyone else’s hand. She felt incredibly special.
She slowly turned and headed back into the markets. It was late in the day and many vendors were packing away. Her friends had long since disappeared and there was a slight chill with the evening air. Some of the young men stopped to watch her walk past, yet she paid them no attention. Even as one called to her, she continued to walk in her own thoughts.
Her evening meal with her parents and siblings was equally as thoughtful, much to the concern of her mother who attempted to question her. Cassinda seemed to struggle for words at first before claiming she was tired. “That’s all.” She went to sleep earlier than usual and as she smothered out the light, she thought “I wonder if he’ll be there tomorrow?”