Sing Me a Song
"Tell me a story, Granny!"
The old woman looked at the small girl dancing around the tiny room and smiled. "Very well, if you come and help me shape the bread, I'll tell you about a strange sighting I had when I was your age."
The girl bounced over, her protective pendant swinging across the neckline of her cut-down tunic, and plopped herself down beside her Granny. "I'm here!"
Granny split the bread dough, giving the girl a smaller piece. "It was late at night, down where the marsh meets the Nile," she began, her strong old hands kneading the dough into shape in time to her words. "Where we cut the papyrus for the scribes to use. I was sleeping up on the roof in the Dry season, and I could see without being tempted out to where they could get me..."
"The singers, sweetie. There were two of them, singing sweetly together, and they sounded so very sad, and yet so very loving."
"What were they like?"
"Let me think..." There was a twinkle in Granny's dark eyes. "One was wrapped in something as dark as the night sky, singing a plaintive song with the sort of soft huskiness that speaks of disuse, yet with silvery undertones lacing through it. It sounded as if the stars themselves were singing, if stars could sing. The other was draped in the palest white-gold of ripe barley, singing a warmer, richer harmony to the first one's. A deeper voice, earthier, well-used, catching the plaintive tones and turning them back into a love of all the earth and everything on it. Maybe they were gods - Nut and Geb, Gods of the sky and the earth, once beloved lovers, now forced apart, ever close and never to touch again. Maybe they were ghosts, missing those family members yet living, and calling them to join them. There's no way for us to tell - we leave that to the priests. And that," she finished, dabbing the pendent with a floury finger, "is why we all wear protective pendents. It means the ghosts can't lure us away..."