Friday Fictioneers: The starlings are the notes

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

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‘Notes on a stave.’

I was by the window, staring out at the mist that slunk through the valley, hugging the rooftops. ‘What?’

Dad stood beside me, stick tapping the floor. ‘The telegraph lines,’ he said. ‘Like a stave of music – the starlings are the notes.’

My heart felt like it would break open, a shell smashed by a rock. I tried to laugh. ‘Trust you to notice.’

‘If only I had my cello,’ he murmured. ‘We could hear how it sounds.’

I looked down at his hands turned to claws by arthritis and said nothing.

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Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ Friday Fictioneers. See the photo, write a 100 word story in response. Full Ts and Cs here.

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57 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers: The starlings are the notes

    1. Thank you Neil. Yes, we’ve all read a lot into that ragged line of wild birds, haven’t we. Probably down to the human mind just loving a pattern – we love to see sense where there isn’t necessarily any 🙂

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    1. Ah, thank you so much. Don’t kow why my mind drifted that way, but always interested in relationships between young and old, the tragedy of a young mind trapped in an ageing body. Thanks for reading

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      1. You’re welcome, and it is a tragedy. Oscar Wilde’s Lord Henry Wotten said in “The Picture of Dorian Gray, “The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but that one is young.” I’ve thought of that ever since I read it when I was ten or so years old, and read the book for the first time.

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      2. Lovely quote.
        It is a cruel trick that nature plays – making us young and fit and giving us a nature that takes it for granted, then removing that vigour and leaving us with a mind ever wistful for the loss of it.
        Just heading down my wistful path now 🙂

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      3. 🙂
        My daughter, 11, likes to pull at the wrinkly flesh of my elbow (I hate it, but have to laugh, because I did the same to my mother when I was young).
        The other day, she traced the lumpy outline of the veins on the back of my hand.
        I guess we are fascinating in a sort of morbid way to our young.

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      4. My son’s 12 in a month, so maybe it’s something to do with their age 🙂 I remember thinking when I was a self important teen, how lovely my smooth, delicate hands were compared to my mum’s – red and wrinkled from work. Now, of course, I have her hands. Such is life

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      5. 🙂
        Yes, indeed. And yet, our hands are the maps of our days, and I am learning to love mine in their ageing state. It’s hard, though.
        Yes, when we are young, we feel flawless, even as we bemoan our flaws.

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  1. I saw notes too, at first, but I don’t know enough about music to do anything with that. You’ve set the mood perfectly, and then close the story with accepting sadness. Beautiful.

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    1. Thank you, Bjorn. It’s that sad tussle between how we feel inside compared to what our bodies will let us do as we age. I see it in older people I know – and I’m sure I’ll be the same when I’m a bit older! Thanks for reading 🙂

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  2. I was a music major (as was my mom, a music teacher) and so anything musical gets my attention. I truly enjoyed this story. I think I could make it into music, but you’d need some stems on the notes and note values. Sky’s the limit. Thanks for this, Lynne. 🙂

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    1. Ah, thank you. Yes, it was a stretch, using birds as notes – but as you say, he could have been imaginative with it, couldn’t he? What instrument did you play? And thank you for reading 🙂

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      1. The instruments I play are the guitar (my first) then I played French Horn (I can’t anymore, it’s been so long) three years of piano, the melodica, harmonica and some percussion instruments. Oh, and I sing, too.
        And you are MOST welcome. Please stop by my blog when you have the time. My story’s a funny and kind of true one this week. 🙂

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      2. Wow! Talented man 🙂 How wonderful to be so proficient in so many instruments. Read your story – great take on the prompt. Is it true – or a big embellishment on the facts? 🙂

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      3. Still, a wonderful thing to be able to play – and the human voice is the most wonderful instrument, I think. Nothing prickles the hairs on the back of my neck like hearing live singing. A beautiful and astonishing thing 🙂

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      1. It’s a wonderful thing, music. It can lift your spirits when you’re down, or allow you to wallow if you need catharsis. It can rekindle memories like little else. A great gift.

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