The woman stands alone in the field arms raised toward the skies. Invisible breezes lift her long hair toward the swift moving clouds in a dance of joy and wonder to the music of the universe. In between clouds the stars peek through, joining the dance with their own mystical movements.
In front of her, a fire blazes, sending sparks into the night sky that then join the ballet of courtship of hundreds of fireflies.
Her long silver-white hair continues to dance, the length and beauty revealing the years of stories she has to share.The woman shows no wrinkles in her face, and yet holds true wisdom in the depths of her dark brown eyes.
“Come my children,” the ageless woman calls. “Come hear my tales. Come share the stories!”
Children of all ages gather round her. Some sit in the cool grass, playing with the summery fronds. Some balance on stumps and stones. They come down paths in the woods surrounding the clearing, never through the trees.
Elderly children, so old that their wrinkles have their own stories to tell, hobble in helped by youth. They are ancient, but the Storyteller is more ancient still.
They come from all around, but avoid entering the woods. They won’t even look in the shadows of the trees for fear of seeing one of the Others. The Others come as well, in silent rustles and hidden shadows, never daring to come out from the safety of the trees.
“What stories will you hear my children?” the Storyteller asks in a sing-song voice that is low as a whisper but as clear as a bell. Nobody strains to hear her voice, not even the children sitting farthest away under the shadows of the trees. These children, the children of the Others, will not enter the field without permission. They know that they are not welcomed by the crowd around the Storyteller. Yet, the call of her stories cannot be ignored.
“Shall I tell you stories of life or of death? Shall I tell you stories of love or of hate? What stories will you hear my children?”
The children in the field call out their favorite tales, hoping the Storyteller will choose one of those ideas. But the Storyteller waits until she hears the distant voice calling from under the shadow of the trees.
“Tell us a story of acceptance,” a hesitant voice cries. The Storyteller catches a glimpse of the speaker as a spark lights up the young child’s eyes.
“Very well,” she speaks. “Acceptance begins in the woods . . . ” The crowd gasps, glancing uncomfortably at the shadows they make every effort to avoid.
“Once upon a time, not so very long ago . . .”