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 final 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.
The day came, almost too soon. Aria awoke from the nightmares of her past, and as she approached the central plaza, pure, unadulterated adrenaline shot through her veins. There were thousands of people filling every last inch of this place. Security forces were stationed at every corner, ensuring orderly proceedings. You could tell that the dreamy town of Serenita was not built for the masses. People even went out of their way to settle on the rooftops overlooking the plaza, turning the city into an expanded amphitheater where the center of attention converged on the stage beneath the mango tree.
At first, there were speeches. High-ranking federal politicians had arrived from beyond the mountain range that surrounded Serenita. Everybody had something to say. Tales of past generations were told and told again. Gratitude was expressed to the people of Serenita for taking such good care of the mango tree. All this talk flew right by Aria, who was waiting for her appearance backstage. She saw the fruits lying just to the right of the stage, with a handful of specialists efficiently handing them out to residents. And then, the moment finally came. With the mayor taking the first bite, everyone beneath the tree was now allowed to consume the fruit.
The mushy texture of the mango did not impress her. Its fruity flavor was just a bit too sweet for her liking. Aria looked around, all she heard was the uncomfortable chewing of the masses. The holy nectar ran down their faces as each one of them devoured what was left of the fruit. She wiped her face, got up, and headed towards the stage. Her name had just flashed on the main display, drawing the attention of the crowd. Everyone grew quiet, there were no whispers, no more chewing, nothing. She did not know if it had been the fruit, or her upcoming performance, but the air had never felt heavier with expectation.
She could feel her vocal cords reverberating with every gust of air that rushed up from her lungs. The surroundings went dark, a single spotlight created a cone-shaped space around her that felt surprisingly safe. And then she saw them — a million eyes on her, like diamonds sparkling in the darkness. She swayed her body to the music, she wanted to be playful, but retain an authenticity that would allow her to connect with her audience. And as she sang the first chorus, time stood still for a moment as the beat dropped her into the second verse. She grabbed the microphone and glided towards the edge of the stage as a pyrotechnical hallucination unfolded behind her. Explosions of color accentuated her every word. Particles of hope made their way into the sky as the audience emerged from their trance with the final bang that preceded the chorus. Suddenly, the world around her came to life. Familiar shapes swayed to the music of her heart. Tears ran down her eyes as she punched in her final notes. With them, a ball of light emerged from her stomach, expanding and bursting, covering the audience in a glowing sheen. She could hear her heart beating freely, louder and louder, in a crescendo that came to its inevitable conclusion with an applause that reverberated through every cobblestone alley of Serenita.
And then, like the final beat of a drum, the applause began to fade, leaving in its wake a deep silence. She stared into the crowd, their cheers still hanging in the air. This moment, as beautiful as it was, was just a star shooting across the sky, soon to be lost in the vast expanse of time. At last, she understood that the stage wasn’t just a physical place but a commitment — a commitment to her voice, to her fears, and to the raw, undiluted power of her story.