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She flew back to her nest that she so carefully tended and loved,
the angel close behind her.
“Why do you stay,” he said angrily.
“I have given you your wing.” He stopped to think.
“I have offered you treats from your far away home.
I have given you someone to love, why do you hesitate?”.
At that moment she began to see him in a different light.
She began to see, like the vapors that obscure the smiling moon
that grins with laughing contempt for the bituminous night,
the emptiness inside of him.
“Come beautiful bird, and I will give to you the world.
We will fly to lands of wonder and nest on golden spires.
I will take you to places that he will never see.” He lied.
“Why would you stay in such a place as this,
a gilded cage with an old man as your keeper?”
Her lilting beautiful song rang out in harsh tones
as she answered the angel, the demon, the darkness.
“He has shown to me more beauty than you could in a thousand lifetimes,
more love in a moment than all the darkness in this world will ever know,
and more kindness than I will ever deserve.
Take back your wing and be gone with you.”
At that moment the gleam that was the soul of the king burnt like the brilliance of the noon day sun as he stepped into the garden.
“Darkness,” he spoke in a low menacing tone, “You are not welcome here,” his glow growing ever brighter.
The bird cowered in her nest, not fearing the dark
but ashamed to show herself to the king.
“Nightingale my love, are you here, are you well?”
She stood in her nest and for the first time the king saw her wing,
perfect in every way, beautiful and strong,
and for just a moment, a minute instant in time, his light faulted.
The darkness immediately engulfed Nightingale
and she fell from her nest, her beautiful warble filling the night air,
and changing as she fell, her body changing as well,
The king stood astounded for only a moment
before his radiance beamed brilliance once again
expelling the darkness for one more night.
He knew it would return.
He looked at the beautiful maiden lying motionless beneath the tree.
She was perfect but for her right arm
which was missing beneath the elbow.
As the king approached her he heard a gentle sound.
It was the song he first sang for her,
whispering through her sweet lips.
He started, “My beautiful, beautiful Nightingale,” but she cut him off.
“I have betrayed you, my love.”
“No! Never! I would gladly have let you go
if that was what you wanted,” he interrupted.
“I know Sweet Love, that is why I couldn't leave you,
why I wouldn't leave you.
You are all of the kindness I have ever known.”
“Lie quiet while I get the healer,” he insisted,
but she stopped him, “No, it is too late, I only wish you by my side a while longer. Forgive me for leaving you.”
“Oh, my tender, divine bird, my beautiful love,
my Nightingale, you will never leave me.
When you reach the other side, look for the light.
I will meet you there.
They sang their song, he in his smooth deep baritone voice,
she in her lilting soprano,
until at last she was gone.
In that instant the poor king's heart broke in two.
He sat holding her and singing to her for long moments,
until at last he allowed his trusted servants to guide him away.
They were instructed to leave her where she lay
with a soft pillow for her head and a blanket to cover her.
The wood smith and carver were summoned
to make a simple casket.
She was buried beneath the tree and beneath her beloved nest.
The entirety of the castle and village turned out for her funeral
and the song they sang lifted to heaven
as a thousand nightingales led a procession of millions of birds
into the dark,
pushing his cloak away from the light of the breaking dawn.
So resplendent was this magnificent sound,
it was heard by the king, throughout the valley
and beyond the mountains,
and perhaps even by Nightingale herself.
He smiled but once at the song.
He smiled for her,
but his mourning was that of a lifetime and he smiled no more,
and though eternity had little meaning for him now,
the old king took solace in knowing he would join his Nightingale soon.
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