The following playlist has been paired with an original narrative story. Each portion of the story is labeled with the corresponding song that should be listened to as you read along. I hope this story allows you to visualize and connect with the music in a unique way.
Peck… peck… peck…
A figure begins to stir in the thick underbrush of the woods. In a mental haze, they shoo away the raven that had been pecking at their hair. They slowly sit up, rubbing the tiredness out of their eyes and take a moment to survey their surroundings; as far as they can tell, the area is unfamiliar to them. The trees seem to stretch upwards for miles, their branches creating a complicated maze of leaves and wood. A sudden movement catches the figure’s attention. Their eyes land on the raven that had been bothering them before as it perches on a nearby branch. It turns its head to match their gaze.
“What’s your name?”
Startled by the sudden interruption, the figure looks around, confused. They aren’t able to pinpoint the direction that the sound came from.
“You’re making a fool of yourself.”
They turn around slowly to face the raven again.
“What’s your name?” The raven doesn’t open its beak, but the figure knows the words are the bird’s.
“I’m… I am…” They blanked.
The raven doesn’t respond, but something in the figure’s gut told them it was communicating with them somehow.
“Follow me.” The raven begins hopping from one branch to the other.
“Wait… slow down!” They respond, and almost trip themselves in an effort to dash forward to catch up. Luckily, the raven slows its pace and they are able to make up the distance and not fall behind. After a few minutes, the sound of running water can be heard. It’s at this moment that the figure becomes aware of how dry their mouth is and how hungry they are as their stomach lets out a low grumble.
“Here.” They stop at a sizeable stream and without hesitation, the figure bends down to take a drink. Halfway through their first sip, they pause, suddenly realizing how crazy it is to be trusting a raven to know which water is safe. They glance at the raven and it meets their eye once again. A sudden feeling of understanding comes over them and they give a quick nod to the raven. It takes off into the expanse of woods.
It’s at this moment they realize the sun is beginning to set, and it wouldn’t take long for the darkness to settle in in a place like this. Despite the incessant protests from their stomach, they start working on clearing an area for a campfire and get ready to face the first night in this forest.
A pair of familiar looking wings flaps onto a branch above the figure’s sleeping body. A squawk bursts loudly from its chest, waking them. Their eyes open suddenly and they look around in a panic before remember what’s going on. By some miracle, they feel strangely refreshed and take a moment to stretch their arms up and enjoy breathing in the crisp morning forest air.
“Follow me.” The raven gives the figure a moment to collect themselves before leading the way.
“Where are we going?” They ask, but the raven doesn’t respond. A few minutes pass as they continue the trek through the forest.
“So… What’s your name then?” Again, nothing.
Before the figure can get another question in, the pair come across a large grove of berry bushes.
“Here.” Without a second thought, they begin eating the berries handfuls at a time. The berries are the sweetest they had ever tasted, and they place a small bunch in their pocket for later. Much to their confusion, the berries fall to the ground the moment they drop them in their pocket. They glance down at their pants and realize that the material is all tattered and torn. The figure shoves their hands in the pockets of the pants, but much to their disappointment they find large gaping holes instead of secure fabric. They let out a sigh of annoyance.
The fluttering of large wings steals their attention, and they look up to find the raven flying towards them. They tense up, not knowing what to expect. A heavy weight is placed on their right shoulder as the bird perches comfortably on it.
“Hey! You’re too heavy, get off.” They respond, but to no avail. A large leaf and a piece of vine fall to the ground at the figure’s feet. With a confused look they glance at the raven on their shoulder, and if it were possible, the bird seemed to be almost pleased with itself. They bend to collect the leaf and vine and it suddenly clicks in their head.
“Oh… thank you.” They say as they begin creating a small pouch from the materials to carry the berries.
“Where to?” The question from the raven pops into their head suddenly. Where to?… The thought bounces around in the figure’s head for a few minutes as they look around, searching for some sign that they should head in a certain direction. After a few moments pass, nothing stands out to them. They are just about to give up when a small flower catches their eye. Without knowing why, a sense of familiarity washes over them. They try to remember why the flower is significant, but nothing comes to mind. The flower sits near a substantial gap between two trees, and the figure can’t help but feel as if it’s a gateway beckoning them that direction. They take a step forward towards the entryway and glance at the raven for reassurance. It meets their eye and the figure nods continuing forward.
A few months pass as the pair remain on the same path. The figure can no longer remember how long they have been in the forest. The days blend together as they had settled into a regular routine with the raven. Wake up. Eat. Travel. Rest. Travel. Rest. Eat. Travel. Set up camp for the night. Sleep. Repeat. Today was no different.
After going through their usual morning, the pair set off. Despite all the time they had spent together, the raven was still not much for conversation. Most of the figure’s day was spent thinking or talking to himself as they passed different parts of the forest. Every once in a while, the raven would point something out to them or direct them a certain way, but the forest itself remained quiet for the most part. The only sounds that could really be heard were the steps the figure took, birds chirping, a babbling creek from time to time, or the call of a wild animal. It was peaceful.
The pair come across a small clearing and the figure decides to stop and rest there for a moment. During their travels, similar spots as the one they had just stumbled across had become commonplace, and the figure began to look forward to them. They were opportunities for them to rest and reflect on their journey. Unfortunately, they were still unable to recall anything about who they were, but at this point, it was no longer a concern to them and they accepted this forest as their new home and this trek as their new life.
“Landscape With a Fairy”
More time has passed. While they do not know it for sure, the figure has spent a year in the forest, but they do suspect a similar amount of time has gone by. The last few months had been difficult. The pair had continued in the same direction and the forest had progressively become more and more dense. Even with all the strength the figure had developed from a year of hiking and traversing the forest, they still found themselves struggling to navigate the now thick mesh of tree roots, shrubbery, and vines, and to top it all off, it had been a while since they had found a clearing to rest in. They had never felt so exhausted.
“We’re close.” The figure jumps, startled by the raven’s words. It had been some time since they had received any communication from the bird, and they had almost forgotten what it felt like to have words that aren’t your own appear in your head.
“Close? To what?” They ask in response, but the raven does not provide any more information. An irritated huff leaves their mouth. It was the first time the raven had spoken to them in a long while, and that was it? The raven takes off and flies ahead of them.
“Wait up!” They call out. For most of their time together, the raven remained close to them, only leaving during the night. In an attempt to catch up, they scramble over the forest floor but it’s difficult for them to find steady footing.
“Come back!” They yell, but they don’t hear the raven’s familiar wings at any point. The raven had been their only companion, and the thought of suddenly being truly alone petrified them. A loud caw echoes throughout the forest just ahead of the figure’s position. They look in the direction that the call had come from and notice the sunlight shining from that area is more intense than it usually is in this forest. A certain familiarity tugs at their gut. They knew what that kind of light meant: a clearing.
As they clamber forward, they suddenly find cleaner footing once again. Finally, they
think to themselves. The trees suddenly clear to reveal the largest clearing that the figure had ever seen. A lush carpet of grass blanketed the clearing and the sun shone intensely, making this area noticeably warmer than the rest of the forest. To their right, they can hear a stream of water flowing rapidly. To their left, a friendly pair of ebony wings catches their eye. Their heart jumps as they spot the raven perched on a branch preening itself.
“Guess you were just trying to tell me to hurry up, yea?” They say, laughing to themselves softly. In response, the raven drops some berries onto the ground for the figure. A small smile appears on their face as they pick them up. The raven must’ve found these somewhere close by. At this realization, their eyes widen and they turn around slowly, gradually taking in their surroundings. After a year on the move, the figure craved a place that they could finally settle down. The forest was their home; they knew they didn’t want to leave, but the forest itself was not fit to live in. There wasn’t enough sunlight. The forest floor was too uncomfortable. The trees didn’t have any low hanging branches to climb. The nights were too dark, and worst of all, the figure couldn’t see the stars. This clearing was just what they were looking for.
“What do you think?” They ask the raven. The raven doesn’t respond, but moves to perch on their shoulder instead. The pair of them glance around, taking in the sun’s rays as it warms their skin and feathers. They nod to themselves.
“Home.” They say in unison.