The sunset reflected on the surface of the water, colouring it in brilliant gold and copper, radiant even in the fading evening light.
The stones had been laid in a sinuous curve, I walked with a soft tread, careful not to disturb the delicate balance. It felt unreal, as if I was suspended between the liquid gold of the water below me and the blazing fire of the sky above.
The spell was broken by the most unexpected sound. Laughter. Clear, brilliant, free. I had thought myself to be alone in the garden and was frightened for a moment, before I checked myself, no evil ever made such a pure sound.
I stopped and listened, but heard no more. I hastened across the stone path, my feet slipping on the uneven surface but somehow I did not fall but made it to sold ground. I looked around, trying to recall where the sound came from, I wanted to find the source, to look upon someone so pure and full of light.
But it was not to be. As the shadows deepened, I had to turn back or I would be lost in the woods for the night. With a heavy heart I hastened back to the water’s edge and the stone path that would lead me back to the world I had escaped for a few hours.
As I turned to lock the gate behind me, I caught sight of something silver shining on the ground. I picked it up and held it close to better see in the fading light what it was that I had found. A feather. A single, silver feather that seemed to glow with an inner light. It was large in size but delicate in composition, and I knew it belonged to the owner of the voice. I recognised it for what it was, a rare gift.
I never went back to the garden after that evening, I could not. But the feather sat on my bedside table, its silvery glow never fading.