Simon got up from the stump he was sitting on took a step outside the circle of firelight and found a safe place in the darkness to lean his guitar. The last song had left his friends silent and away all eyes now drawn to the blue yellow white heat light hypnotic dance of embers. He had lifted and carried them slowly and carefully. If asked no one would know when his song began how long it had lasted or even when it had ended. They would recall laughing and singing for hours before but not when they suddenly fell silent his voice rising above theirs quelling gently quieting until all you could hear were his words and the play of his fingers on the six strings of a stained stickered well worn guitar. The ballad was long layered human finely threaded silken light heavily hung familiar foreign and finally something that transcended humanity altogether. There was not one among them who did cry weep share their soul or crawl deep inside as the aria wandered from birth to battlefield suggestion to certainty stillness eruption return. No one knew where Simon came from but that his history was not theirs and the language of his song was old to the world but unknown to them.
Seven friends within the orange yellow glow of a campfire seated on stumps beer cases and coolers camping in a park where camping was prohibited and gates closed at dark. A glowing orb in the shadow of trees. There was also a stranger. He had come just as Simon’s song began to gather and hold. His name was Sam the park bouncer and a job was a job but he listened only a moment before rolling up the window turning off the truck shutting the gate and drifting to the edge of light. Simon met his eyes laughed shook his head side to side stopped the pick and strum slapped and drummed with hands wide open returned romanced the strings one at a time back to the river that wrapped welcomed and carried them on.
The fire is dying, Simon said. Entranced they sat as one unable to distinguish between his voice and the orange yellow flickering fading light. Hours ago he had found the fires pattern movement twists and tempo spark flame and ember. Told its tale. His song was not the folklore of a single distant land or culture but the whisper and crackle of campfires burning across the world. Stars on the face of the planet humans gathered round in song and silence.
They sat through the night and transition from darkness to purple deep blue lightening shimmering ever so slowly shifting brightening until on the tips of the tallest trees they saw the first touch of sunlight breathing in a brand new day.