New World Symphony: Iron and Clay


For a quiet spirit like Tomas’s, having fewer people at Cradle Rock meant that there was now more space for him to roam.

Seeing the long line of tombstones shining in the sunlight at the edge of the property reminded Tomas of the tethers spirits feel to the spots where their bones lie.


His widow came to him.

“Cheer up, dear-heart,” she said. “Stay with us now, will you? We’ve got room. And I’ve never fallen for anyone else. You’re the love of my life–even beyond.”


As Tomas freed himself from the binds of  his headstone, something opened–a small fissure, just large enough to allow a little bit of magic to escape into the world.

Nathanael noticed it first, when he spied an unusual passerby.

“You from around here?” Nathanael asked. “I haven’t seen you before.”


They struck up a conversation, but the strange man revealed nothing about where he was from or how it was that he suddenly appeared here on the road before Cradle Rock.

Rummaging through the storage room, Nathanael found an old set of knight’s armor.

It looked good out there, he thought, as he contemplated it guarding the long line of tombstones.


Later that night, by funny coincidence, his granddaughter, Cypress, called to see if wanted to meet her at Rattlesnake, where it was Knight Night.

“Night-night?” Nathanael asked. “Like time for bed?”

“No!” Cypress replied. “As in wearing suits of armor!”

Nathanael looked over the armor he’d pulled out of storage. Alas, he didn’t think his girth would fit inside it.

“You can wear civvies,” Cypress said. “Just come. It will be fun!”

So he went, joined by Tomas’s spirit. When they arrived, they recognized the first knight they saw, not by appearance, but by her music. No one else but Sugar Maple has played that seamlessly since Heifitz.


“Dad!” Cypress said when Tomas wrapped her in a big hug. “You’re free to leave the lot!”


The surreal quality of the evening increased Nathanael’s enjoyment of it. He’d always had a taste for the mystical and mythical.

At the end of the evening, Tomas felt fully his new freedom. With a spirit that can roam and mingle freely with family and friends, perhaps this new state of being has something to offer.


For those remaining at Cradle Rock, each day brought a new sweet pleasure.


Redbud discovered the joys of a mid-morning nap in the sun on the garden bench.

“This is new!” she told her dad and aunt, when they carried their meals into the music room. “I don’t think we’ve ever eaten in here before!”


Family was still such an integral part of daily life.

J.P. stopped by each afternoon.

“You should come see me at my house sometime,” he told onezero.


“Why’s that,” she asked, “when you can come here?”


“Oh, just to see the place!” he replied. “It’s got a nice view of the riverboat.”

“You can tell me about,” she said, “and I’ll see it that way.”


While onezero enjoyed being a homebody, Redbud relished being free to head to the nightclub to join a friend at a dance party.


Finding her daughter there made the outing all the more fun.


“Everything feels a little sparkly, don’t you think?” Redbud asked her daughter.

“It feels different, that’s for sure!” Cypress said. Cypress had been talking with Grim that night.

“Things are changing!” he said. “Can you feel it? Don’t fear death anymore–something has shifted!”


Cypress could feel a shift. It was as if the buzz of the universe had been raised a few octaves.

When she ordered a drink, she noticed that the bartender didn’t seem to be from around here.


She’d never seen anyone like her before. Surely, she wasn’t an alien, like Aunt onezero.

But she clearly wasn’t like them, either. What was that light in her eyes?


Redbud was thinking, too, of these shifts they were all feeling. At home that night, as she drifted off to sleep, she said to Tomas, “Did you bring the magic with you?”

Tomas laughed, feeling the happiness of inspiration.

Yes, there’s definitely some infusion of magic, he thought.


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