Thursday, 26 May 2016

The Day the Postman Lost his Tongue

The Day the Postman Lost his Tongue

 It was a summer morning just like any other. The sun peeped over the horizon, rising gracefully into the slowly lightening sky. The birds woke in the treetops and began to chirp cheerfully, eager for the day before them. And all across the land people began to wake, stirring from slumber, yawning and blinking, and shaking the nights dreams from their heads.
One such person was Mart, a perfectly average young man, possessing no particular skills or talents, but honest and hard working nonetheless.

 Mart yawned and stretched, and blinked his dark green eyes at the sunlight that was slipping past the edges of his curtains and invading his bedroom. Slowly he pushed back the warm duvet and felt the fresh morning air hitting his skin and sending goosebumps up his bare arms. He shivered and swung his legs out of bed, planting his feet firmly on the wooden floor.
Mart was not a complicated man and the house he called his home was not a complicated place. His bedroom was a small square room with a wooden floor, it's furnishings consisted of a single bed pushed against the wall, a large plain wardrobe that stood against another wall and a small oval rug that sat in the centre of the floor.
Mart stood and walked sleepily across the small room to the window that was set in the wall opposite his bed. He pulled back the curtain and looked out at the scene in front of him. Mart's simple house sat at the top of a small hill, and the village he had called his home since the time of his birth stretched away down the slope in front of him. He thought that the little stone cottages with their thatched roofs and garden flowers looked quaint in the morning sun. Mart smiled to himself as he looked out over the village, then he turned to the large plain wardrobe and began to dress himself.

 When Mart had dressed, and washed his face, and eaten his breakfast he opened the plain front door and stepped out of his house, closing the door behind him with a soft click. He did not bother to lock the door, for he did not worry that anyone would try to steal anything, everyone knew that he kept nothing of value and he had no enemies. Contentedly, Mart began to stroll down through the village towards the little post office where he worked, enjoying the warmth of the morning sun on his back and the sounds of the birds chirping in the trees. As he strolled on he passed neighbours and friends, and, because he was a man of few words, Mart smiled and nodded at each of them in turn.

 When Mart reached the little village post office he took out a large brass key which he inserted into the keyhole in the door before pushing it open gently and walking through into the dimly lit room beyond. The post office had not opened yet, he was the first to arrive, but Mart was used to that and he did not mind. Calmly he made his way around the room, pulling back the curtains on each of the windows so that the morning light shone through and illuminated the room. Then he walked around the counter and through a narrow doorway into the next room, which he also walked around, opening all the curtains as he went.
When he was satisfied that the room was bright enough Mart walked to the other side and picked up a large burlap sack full of letters and parcels which he began to sort into different piles. As he was busy sorting through the letters and parcels he heard the front door open and close again, followed by the sound of footsteps walking across the first room. The footsteps made their way to the entrance to the letter room and stopped. The cheerful voice of Mrs Peters called out.
"Morning there Mart! I see you're already hard at work as usual, did you enjoy the sun on your way over?"
Mart turned to see Mrs Peters's wrinkled face smiling at him through the narrow doorway. He smiled back and opened his mouth to reply, but although his lips moved no words escaped his mouth. He tried again with the same result and the smile vanished from his face.
"Are you alright there Mart? You look as though you've seen a ghost or something!"
Mart shook his head, silently moving his lips and gesticulating wildly as he tried to communicate. Mrs Peters looked at him in confusion, unsure of quite what was going on.
"Are you a bit ill dear? Bad cough made you lose your voice?"
Mart shook his head, then changed his mind and nodded, his dark green eyes wide with fear. He walked over to a little table by the door on which there was a wad of paper and a pot of pens. Slowly he took one of the pens and wrote, a little shakily, on the paper.
'I can't speak.' He wrote.
"Oh dear," Said Mrs Peters, "Are you not feeling well? Perhaps your voice will come back in a little while?"
Mart tried to cough, then he tried to sing, then he tried to scream, but no sound came out at all.
'I'm not ill. I don't know why my voice is gone.' He wrote.
Mart looked at Mrs Peters, a pleading expression written across his features. She looked confused, her softer features set in a way that looked unsure and somewhat uncomfortable.
"Perhaps," She began, and Mart felt a small amount of hope spark in him. "Perhaps you had better take the day off Mart... come back tomorrow when you're feeling better?"
The hope in Mart died a quick death, Mrs Peters did not have the answer. He nodded glumly and put down the bag of letters before heading out of the post office and onto the street.
"Hope you feel better soon!" Called Mrs Peters.

 Mart had never missed a day at work. He was never ill and he never missed a day. Standing on the street outside the post office in the morning sunshine he suddenly found that he had no idea what to do or where to go. He could not talk so that ruled out socialising with friends, and he did not particularly want to go home again so soon. He thought about going to see Dr. Woodman , he almost started walking towards the surgery, but then he remembered that the Doctor was away seeing the sick daughter of an Earl in a neighbouring village for the week. Mart sighed. He didn't feel ill at all. Perhaps a walk in the sunshine would do him good.
Without thinking about where he was going Mart started walking down through the cobbled village streets. He passed quaint cottages with thatched roofs and flower gardens out front, he crossed a little stone bridge over a small sparkling river at the end of the village and he began to follow a small but well trodden path through green grassy fields spotted with daisies. Up ahead in the distance he could see a farmhouse but to his left the fields just kept going on and on towards the horizon. By the time Mart reached the next fork in the road he had already made up his mind, eagerly following the path to the left.

 Mart walked on through the grassy, daisy spotted fields for some time, enjoying the quiet sounds of nature around him and the gentle heat of the midday sun on his back. Walking was not something that he had ever done a lot of and to his surprise he found that he rather liked it. If he had been able he would have hummed a little tune as he went, but instead he listened to the sounds of the birds in the hedgerows and the insects in the grass.
After some time he came upon a small stone cottage nestled at the corner of two hedgerows. The thatched roof of the cottage barely reached above the hedges and from a distance he had been completely unable to see it. Somewhat intrigued, Mart stopped and looked at the cottage. It did not look unloved and when he peered around the side of it he could see a small vegetable garden at it's rear so he figured that someone must live there. Momentarily forgetting that he had no voice Mart strode up the small path to the front door and knocked three times. For a long moment nothing happened, then the door opened slowly with a low creaking sound and a short grey haired man upon whose nose a pair of spectacles balanced precariously appeared. The man looked up at Mart suspiciously.
"Can I help you?" He asked in a whiny voice.
Mart tried to reply but could make no sound. He shook his head and pointed to his throat, then held his hands up and shrugged his shoulders.
The strange little man narrowed his eyes at Mart and appeared to think hard before replying.
"Hhmmm... I have nothing for a lost voice, you must go elsewhere to find what ails you, my alchemy cannot help you."
And with that the strange little man shut the door with a loud bang, leaving Mart standing on the doorstep feeling rather confused. Not sure what else to do or what the little man had meant, Mart left the cottage and carried on walking through the fields.

 After walking for quite some time Mart rounded a corner and saw ahead of him another small cottage, much like the one he had visited earlier. This one, however, was next to a large weeping willow with so many branches and leaves that it had completely obscured the cottage from view until he had turned the corner. Mart thought about what the strange little man at the last cottage had said to him and wondered if whoever lived in this cottage may be able to help. Excited, he strode up the small path to the front door and knocked three times. Almost instantly the door was pulled wide open and a tall skinny woman with a mass of dark frizzy hair appeared. Her wide eyes and open mouth gave her a childish look of surprise, as if she did not expect to find herself there at all, and for a moment Mart did not know what to do.
"Can I help you?" Asked the woman in a deep voice that did not seem to match her feminine exterior.
Mart smiled, then opened and closed his mouth a few times, pointed to his throat, shook his head, held up his hands and shrugged his shoulders. The woman in the doorway raised an eyebrow, clearly unimpressed. Mart frowned and mimed talking again, then pointed at his throat and shook his head. The woman looked at him, her face blank. For a long moment the two of them stood looking at each other, then out of nowhere a fox appeared. The creature paused for a moment and looked at Mart, then it glanced behind it before darting through the woman's legs, out past Mart and off into the field beyond. To Mart's surprise the fox was closely followed by a small tabby cat which was also followed by a little brown rabbit. He shook his head in confusion.
"I don't know what you've done with your voice but I certainly don't have it. I suggest you keep looking, and think about why you lost it in the first place. Good day."
With that the woman shut the door, leaving Mart standing on the doorstep feeling even more confused than he had earlier. Not sure what else to do and puzzling over the words of the strange little man and the tall woman Mart left the cottage and carried on walking through the fields.

 As Mart walked he pondered the words of the little man and even stranger words of the tall woman. How could he have lost his own voice? He shook his head at the thought, and almost laughed out loud until he remembered that he could not. Pushing the strange thoughts from his head Mart walked onwards, thinking instead about how nice it was to be out in the sunshine on such a glorious day and how despite not having a voice he felt as though he were truly glad to be alive. He smiled to himself.
Presently Mart came across a third small cottage, much like the two he had come across before, except that this one was positioned on a slope next a twinkling river. The fact that it was on a slope gave the cottage an odd lopsided look and Mart wondered why anyone would have chosen to position their home in that place. Nonetheless he strode up the small path to the front door and knocked three times. There was a pause and then the door opened just a crack, revealing almost nothing of the room within or the person who had opened the door.
"Have you come about your voice?" The faceless person asked in a cracked voice that Mart thought might possibly belong to a woman.
Unsure of how to respond Mart tapped his foot on the ground, knocked on the door and nodded his head up and down, hoping that she would understand.
"Go away!" She yelled and slammed the door with a loud bang that made Mart jump backwards off the doorstep and nearly lose his footing.
Now he really did not know what to do. The woman had asked about his voice so he figured that she must know something about why he had lost it, but she obviously did not want to talk to him and Mart did not want to be rude by knocking again. He stood outside the door for a long time, lost in indecision.
After a time he wandered over to the river and sat down beside it, listening to the splashing sound of the water and wondering what to do. He supposed he should probably go home, he had been walking for quite some time and he guessed from the sun's position that it was probably around mid afternoon. He sighed and closed his eyes, listening to the river and the birds and the insects, and feeling the slight breeze in his hair and the warm sun on his face. Mart smiled.
"Sorry about my sister." A soft girlish voice said from somewhere behind him.
Mart turned around, not sure what he expected to see. A woman stood in front of him, an old woman with long curly grey hair and a wrinkled face that seemed somehow very old and very young at the same time. He smiled at the woman and she smiled back.
"I'm Niannara. Have you come about your voice?"
Mart nodded.
"Do you know why you lost your voice?"
Mart shook his head.
"Do you know how you lost your voice?"
Mart shook his head again.
"Do you want your voice back?"
Mart nodded eagerly.
"Hhmm." Said Niannara and she looked at Mart for a long time. He felt as if her eyes were searching his very being. Eventually she cleared her throat and spoke again.
"How do you feel right now Mart?"
If he could have spoken Mart would have asked her how she knew his name. But he could not speak and so he smiled at her and nodded. He felt surprisingly good. Niannara smiled back at him.
"Good. Did you enjoy your walk here?"
Mart thought for a second, then beamed at Niannara and nodded enthusiastically. She grinned back.
"Have you liked having a day off?"
Mart nodded again, unsure of where she was going with all these questions.
Niannara paused.
"You have not been happy recently Mart. There has been a strange sadness in the corner of your mind over these last few weeks."
Mart nodded and looked down at the ground, realising the truth of her words as she spoke them.
"Yet today, unable to do anything but simply be, you have felt wonder at nature, joy at being alive, and you have been happy again. This was my gift to you Mart, the gift of joy."
Mart looked up Niannara in wonder, a smile playing on his lips and his dark green eyes wide and sparkling.
"Go home now Mart," said Niannara, "Go home and go to bed, and in the morning when you wake your voice shall have returned. But do not forget the lessons learned today."
Mart stood and beamed at Niannara again. He wanted so desperately to thank her but could only nod and smile. She touched his arm gently and smiled in return. Mart turned and began to walk back up the gently sloping riverbank towards the grassy fields.
"Mart!" Niannara called in her soft girlish voice. "One more thing. Tomorrow, as you work, look out for a woman you have never seen before, and when you see her be sure to make her acquaintance, for she will bring you great joy in the years to come."
Mart smiled and waved and turned back to the path, walking back through the fields, past the little cottages with their strange inhabitants, back across the little stone bridge, through the village and up the hill to his home.

 That night Mart slept soundly and in the morning when the rays of sunlight woke him he felt refreshed and happy. He whistled as he pulled back the curtain to his bedroom window and let out a gasp of joy that soon turned to merry laughter when the bright sunlight fell into the room.
That morning as Mart walked to work he said 'Hello' and 'Good Morning' to everyone he passed and when he reached the post office he threw his arms around Mrs Peters and thanked her for being so understanding the day before. During the day he made conversation with every person who came into the post office, never failing to make them laugh, and all day he remember Niannara's words and kept an eye out for a woman he had never seen before.

 A half hour before closing time the little bell atop the front door of the post office jingled and Mart made his way out to see who had come in. To his surprise his dark green eyes fell upon the face of a woman he had never seen before. The woman smiled at him and Mart thought to himself that she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.

The End

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