A Sneak Peek at My New Story: The King and the Flute

I love when life has beautiful surprises waiting for you...
so here was my Facebook update yesterday--

Rome today...
i am grateful for the gifts.
sarah brought her husband over to help with a situation i didn't have the attention or desire to deal with myself...clearing out plants that died while i was in new york. the watering system didn't work but that's another story. anyway, what sarah didn't know was that i've been musing on a story, a retelling of the pied piper. have a new friend and a flautist/musician coming from nyc to rome next month to work on the audiobook for it and more...but the story wasn't written.
correction. the story WAS written. it just hadn't been told to me yet.
so i'm having breakfast and chatting up sara and all of a sudden she says, "that reminds me of a nigerian proverb." i love stories, y'all. they're the best things. i collect them like tom collects people. 
"wait!" i shrieked. "lemme get a pen."
my life is beginning to work in such a beautifully synchronous way since i've started just doing what the hell i want and am attracted to. so much so that it didn't surprise me in the least when sara said, "this is a story about a king, and a man who plays the flute."
"OF COURSE IT IS!" i laughed, thanking her and the universe for the gift of the moment. for getting what i wanted. for affirmation that this story NEEDS to be told. that i am humble enough to listen and worthy enough to retell/remix it. elena will illustrate it. i will post some photos of hers that sarah and i were looking at as inspiration because, you know, Facebook is my checks and balances/focus group tool. (hey, at least it's not my therapist.)
so here are sarah's words mixed with mine. she began:
This one goes like this.
There lived a king in a very far away village. The king had a servant who would come every day to play the flute for him. Just for him to relax. Because he was the best flute player in all the land. 
Me: he needs a name. What could his name be?
Sarah: Hmmmm. Kola.
Kola knew, he realized he was the best flute player in the land. One day Kola pretended to be sick. Very sick. He told his wife to tell the King he was sick and couldn't play the flute. 
Me: Why would he want to do that?
Sarah: he knew he had a special gift. He wanted the king to be desperate. He wanted everyone to be looking for him.
And the King was angry. I mean angry. The King asked the entire kingdom to find someone who could at least play a couple of notes on the flute...
The story is finished. I wrote and elaborated and got carried away and swept up as she retold what's normally a very short, succinct lesson for children in Nigeria. We were both wowed by each other's engagement & insights in the story. What a beautiful thing it is to create.
I can't wait to work on it. I can't wait to see it in reality. 
"What should the name be for the flute player's wife?" Sarah asked.
"Sarah, of course," I smiled. Elena can paint her to look like you.
And the dedication to this book soon to be pulled into reality will read:
For Milo & Noah
and for Sarah, who told me one of the most beautiful stories.

So today I spent a bit of time with the story...and I finished it.
I'm in love with it.

Here are the first few paragraphs:

The King and the Flute
by Dr. Tamara Pizzoli
illustrated by Elena Tommasi Ferroni

In the West African city of Lagos, quite some time ago. In a country that was once home to many great kingdoms, and is today known as Nigeria, there lived a young King by the name of Ademuyiwa. He was known as King Ade for short.

The King had a palace full of servants to attend to his every desire and whim, and he had a daily routine to which he preferred to adhere. He awoke of his own volition and if no urgent matters awaited, enjoyed a breakfast of tea and bread accompanied by a verbal debriefing of the state of the kingdom. Immediately following his first meal, King Ade would call for his morning entertainment: Kola, the flute player.

Now Kola was a master flautist. The notes that passed from his breath through the instrument and into thin air were indescribably beautiful and felt effortless. The sound naturally pleased and soothed King Ade very much. In fact, the King had become reliant on Kola and the flute, as hearing the gorgeous melody made by both relaxed and calmed him like nothing else. And so, it wasn’t just in the mornings that King Ade called Kola to serenade him with the flute. It was all throughout the day and oftentimes very late into the night. More than once, Kola had been awakened at the darkest hour, summoned to play a lullaby to aid the restless King back to sleep.

Make no mistake, Kola enjoyed his job, and was happy to have it. Had he been asked, though, he would have gladly told anyone that a day off once in awhile would have been very much appreciated. Kola also knew the value of his work.  He knew he was the best flautist in all of Lagos, and he believed that sometimes you just have to take matters into your own hands.

It was on a Tuesday morning that King Ade summoned Kola to play his favorite song right after breakfast, and Kola, simply put, just didn’t feel like it. “Sarah,” he whispered to his wife as he pulled their Egyptian bedsheets up to his eyelashes, “Go tell the King I am not well. Tell him I cannot play today. And I probably won’t be well enough to play tomorrow either.” Sarah arched one eyebrow higher than the other, rolled both eyes and went to deliver the message to the King...
So now comes the fun part...styling the book.

Here's one of the main characters. Sweet Sarah, who told me a version of the story yesterday and let me feel comfortable enough to embellish and remix it significantly on the spot. 

Sarah's to the left and I'm on the right.
We may be cousins, we've decided.
We look a lot alike.

King Ade will be my son Noah and my other son Milo will be King Fumi. They are the kings of my heart, after all.

And the illustrator, who is such a gift in my life, is Elena Tommasi Ferroni, please do yourself a visual favor, take a break from your life, and check out her website here.

I'm using some of her existing pieces as illustration inspiration. Now's the super fun part because I get to style the clothes and the scenes and is basically art directing and creative consulting for my own...stuff. All the fun.

Elena is my art teacher and I now curate for her, but that's another story. That's another post. 

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