Ash in the Ground Rain in the Sky and a Song in my Heart

Once upon a time, a man named Paddy dug in the ground to harvest his crop, and found rot. Black, putrid rot. After digging more and more, he only found more of the same. He grabbed up a handful of what was supposed to be a potato, and, after pondering for a second, he suddenly and violently threw it; a long, hard throw, further than he thought he could throw, with fierce, clear adrenaline kicking through his body. But as he looked after his hurled piece of rot, his eyes focused on the Irishman's spear to the side. The landlord's men. A miserable, merciless, loveless lot. Now. Today. Coming to his house. Dropping everything, he turned and ran, faster than he thought he could run, up the hill to his humble stone cottage. He arrived there just as the men came riding at a swift jaunty pace into the hard-packed dirt front yard. His mind was on one thing. He neither turned nor stopped his pace, but hurled himself into the house and straight to that one thing. Along with a few last coins, he grabbed that one precious item, and ran far out back and, digging with his hands in the dry soil he placed that precious thing in the ground and threw some dirt over it. Then, turning, he saw the men ram rod the stone walls of his house. Stones fell and thudded inside the cottage, and he felt his heart thud with them. Like a wild man he wanted to run and fight them all, running into the midst of them like a one-man nightmare such as they had never seen before. With a roar the thatched roof went up in flames, and deep inside him something roared with it. But before he launched himself from his locked trance, heaven's gates swung open, and with a wild rush, it let loose its tears. All was thickly veiled with gray, fast falling, drenching, pouring. Quickly he turned, and threw himself on the ground, over his precious item shallowly buried. When the heaviness dwindled into a light drizzle, he lifted himself from the ground and turned to gaze at the landlord's work. The landlord's men were gone. Tumbled stones and piled ashes dark, damp and glistening held close the earth. Sifting smoke stirred up from it, lifting softly, sweetly, sorrowfully, like a soul leaving a young body, prematurely. And he felt his soul going with it, lifting, drifting, sifting. But not dead. Yes very much alive. More alive than many a living thing. Grief struck deep into his soul, the truest grief, yet not a tear he shed. Sorrow stung his heart, yet still, he rose upward. His precious item buried, he bent and dug it up. There it lay, like a small, premature casket, a narrow wooden box painted black, as long as his arm. His soul was in there, or, at least, a prime defining feature of his soul. Though it lay in a dark box, it was not dead. In fact it was one of the greatest defiers of death. Opening the box, Paddy pulled out his fiddle.

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