Day 195: The Voice in the Courtyard

The Voice In the Courtyard
Matt Zurbo


Shiraz was bullied a lot.
(Little girl being taunted/having a raspberry blown at her, by bully.)

She would run into the courtyard to cry.
(Girl in small, high-walled, pot-plant-filled, vine covered, courtyard, with fish big clay pot, etc…)

Her sobs would travel every water spout and drain, echo up every lane, filling the neighbourhood with her sorrow.
(Girl crying in front of piping on vine-covered wall.)

Shiraz had no way of knowing that, though. All she knew was that she was sad, and often lonely.
(Street sweeper, leaning on broom, head tilted, as sound comes out of drain.)

Then, one day, when the bullying was bad, between sobs, she sniffled: “Why are things so bad?”
“Bad? But they’re not,” a voice replied.
(Girl, teary face, looking a bit startled.)

Scared, Shiraz whispered: “Who’s there?”
But the voice just answered,
“Sometimes I feel blue, too. Sad, lonely, like you…”

Shiraz searched everywhere for the voice.
(Girl looking under old, moss-covered bench.)

“But then I remember the world,” it continued.
“The world is beautiful.”
(Frog on the small water lilies in clay fish pot, girl in background, searching.)

“It holds the smallest moments of joy,
(Two blue-crested wrens courting in the vines above unsuspecting girl.)

the most fragile, wonderful things.”
(Butterfly landing on leaf in front of her, she is not noticing.)

“Like what?” Shiraz asked.
But the voice didn’t reply.
(Girl looking small in tall courtyard.)

That night, safe in her room, buffered from a mad, noisy world, Shiraz did a list of things the voice might belong to.
(Girl in bed, writing.)

the old dog lady who told amazing tales,
a gypsy,
a bird, lizard,

None of them seemed likely.
But, then again, to the outside world, she didn’t seem the sort to cry.

The next day the bullying of Shiraz was the worst ever.
“I did too hear a voice that told me to be calm…!” she raged.
Then she ran to the courtyard.
(Girl running gauntlet of teasing kids.)

It was as if the mood of the neighbourhood was sour, tainted by her tears.
(Girl running down grey street fully or rock-like, cold people.)

“What do you do on the days you can’t see the beautiful things?” Shiraz asked.
At first there was silence.
(Girl standing in middle of small, clustered courtyard, looking up in anticipation.)
Then, eventually, the soft voice replied; “I hear you cry and know I’m not alone…”

“That there are others like me.”
(Boy, head down at bus stop.)

(A girl, lying on tree branch, arm dangling.)

“Beautiful girls and boys that get sad sometimes, but who are also full of joy.”
(Another girl, sitting on a roof watching nothing, framed by a hazy sunset.)

“Oh,” Shiraz said. “oh.”
“And what do you do when you feel that way?” she asked.
“I sing,” the voice replied.

Shiraz watched the vine flowers blooming as she listened, and felt glad and sad at the same time,
and rather than cry, sang.
(Girl, head down, framed by flowers, starting to sing.)

Sang something magical, something superb.
(Girl, face up eyes closed singing.)

A song without words, just feelings, of warmth and hope and need.
(Girl, arms above head, singing.)

A song that drifted up every water spout,
(Street sweeper smiling while standing next to rain spout.)

That curled along every drain…
(Kid from bus stop dancing on street.)

The soothed bad moods,
(Another kid with bike helmet and bike, and pedestrian. They have obviously crashed, and are on their bums, but smiling.)

that made people sigh without knowing why.
(A girl hugging an aggressive looking dog.)

That brought peace to the neighbourhood,
(Mum and Dad dancing in kitchen, next to air vent.)

seeping up through every bathroom sink, vent,
(Another angle of girl singing.)

sliding under every door.
(Kid, on other side of courtyard wall, and its closed door, standing over drain, smiling while looking up at mother bird feeding its young.)

Until, soon enough, nobody was sad at all.
(Girl, bashful smile, hand twirling lock of hair, looking at reader. Behind her, people of the street/neighbourhood all smiling, happy.)

(Final image of both wrens flying.)  

The End

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