Welcome to Fiction Fridays!
Every couple of weeks, I use AI to generate a new fiction writing prompt inspired by the changes and updates to my digital garden. Today, I present to you the 1st part of the story Beneath the Mango Tree.
This collaboration with machine learning allows for the emergence of intriguing and unexpected ideas I might not have thought of otherwise. The prompts are designed to be open-ended and flexible, allowing me to explore a wide range of themes and genres that are aligned with my interests and experiences. However, it is important to remember that these pieces are fictional.
But there’s more! Alongside each weekly publication, you’ll find a piece of AI-generated art that complements the story. And if you’re eager to dive deeper, don’t forget to explore the updates to my digital garden.
In the quaint town of Serenita, where time suspends beneath the benevolent boughs of a fabled mango tree, the prospect of unity and celebration teeters on the edge of upheaval. The once-beloved songstress, Aria, shrouded in the cloak of scandal and self-imposed exile, resurfaces to participate in the once-in-a-century ritual. As the echoes of her past rise like specters in the communal consciousness, the town is pulled into an abyss of prejudice and collective memory. Amidst the murmur of the shifting world, Aria stands poised, bathed in the twilight of her life’s greatest test.
With a soft thump, the mango dropped, stirring the stillness of the early dawn into a quiet whisper. The town of Serenita awoke to something very few had ever seen. Aria felt a knot in her stomach. Something wrapped tightly around her heart, squeezing out every last drop of life as she wrangled with her bedsheets. This wasn’t unusual, but the intensity on this particular morning scared her. It had been well over a year since she had last appeared publicly. The thought of singing to rows of empty seats crippled her. Like waves, each empty row washed over her and took the remains of her dignity.
Her last performance was the first time in her life that she truly felt like herself. Which made the pain all the more intolerable when she learned that nobody cared. The signs were there all along, but she chose to ignore them. Her anniversary concert was met with declining ticket sales and an unusual amount of bad press. Serenita was not ready for who Aria really was. Very few people showed up. And those who came did so only out of a sensation-seeking desire.
In the aftermath, Aria withdrew from public life. She hadn’t touched her piano since that night. She hadn’t even dared to raise her voice out of fear that her neighbors would hear her. Dreams of leaving plagued her, and she fantasized about sprawling cities built just for her. But reality always pulled her back to Serenita. This was the center of her small world.
She could hear them trample their way to the plaza: slamming doors and the echos of the cobblestone alleyways as everyone rushed to catch a glimpse of the fallen fruit. The mutterings of the people. Everybody had something to say. Aria closed her eyes and began to imagine what it would be like around the plaza with all these people present. She could not get up or move. Paralyzed by the thoughts of others, she stared and stared at the white ceiling. A canvas she would let her mind paint every morning, but today there was no need for that. She knew exactly why everyone was so upset.
The mango tree, the heart and soul of Serenita, was located in the center of the plaza. The narrow alleyways all converged at the point where the cobblestone began to crack at the mercy of the roots. A tree that only bears fruit once in a lifetime. Growing up in Serenita meant waiting for the day when it would finally be your turn to belong to eternity. Eat the fruit, and time would stop beneath the grace of the mango leaves.