I mentioned a few days ago that I had signed up for a class to try to help me get toward my goals of writing a novel. The course has started, and for my first assignment I am supposed to suggest two ideas for what I would like to write. Suddenly, despite the hundreds of ideas that have poured around me at different times in my life, I am drawing a blank. This is it. This is real. I must now make a commitment, and if I ever really want to write fiction I must make some choices. I woke up in a panic, still no closer to a clear idea. But then, I realized, the Storyteller plays a role in this. I may not know the Story, yet, but I am the Storyteller, or at least I am her apprentice. I sat down and began to write this:
The young woman, Leahannah, wandered through the rows of light, cultivated trees at the edge of the clearing. She never stepped over the line into the dimness of the forest abutting this protected grove, for despite everything she had learned from the Storyteller, she still had fear of the Others. Those fears, ingrained in her since childhood, sometimes interfered with her learning and growth as she tried to master the skills of the Storyteller.
Leahannah felt like she was disappointing the Storyteller by not letting go of these fears.
She wandered closer to the line between darkness and light, peering into the depths of the trees. She kept seeing eyes peeking back at her from the crevices of trees or under bushes. Were they real or imagined? Were the eyes from human animals, the Others, or real animals on the hunt?
A chill went up her spine. Not one of fear, but of realization. She still thought of the Others as animal, and that would never do. If she wanted to someday step into the role of storyteller, she needed to overcome her ingrained fears and recognize the truth. A surprising tear formed in her eye at the thought of losing the Storyteller, for the old woman had saved Leahannah by making her the storytelling apprentice. Without her, Leahannah would still be doing drudge work and living on scraps, little better than the Others people hated so much.
But the Storyteller was old and had been for a long time. Each day, each time the Storyteller used the magic to tell stories, Leahannah noticed she got slower, and seemed to fade into the glow of the magic never fully coming back to solidity. The Storyteller was becoming the magic. It did not look painful, and in some ways it seemed Storyteller embraced the change–as if becoming the magic was the final transition necessary to fulfill her purpose in life. The transition would carry her stories on into forever.
That couldn’t happen, however, unless Leahannah was ready to become the next Storyteller. She couldn’t do that until she passed the next trial; the sharing of Her story, a story that spoke from her very soul and from the heart of the magic. It couldn’t be a story told before. It couldn’t be a simple story. It had to be a story that drew the listeners in and shared important messages without them even knowing it. It had to be full of magic, but the magic that comes from Leahannah’s being, not magic borrowed from the Storyteller.
Leahannah sighed. This was her struggle. Where was she to find that story? She could tell stories of the village, but those would not work. The villagers did not want to hear about themselves, at least not in a recognizable way. She could tell a story of the gods, but those were not new. Where could she find Her story? The story that she needed to tell.
Leahannah heard something in the dark woods behind her. A crackle of leaves, perhaps, maybe a bird or a whisper of wind through the trees. She peered into the darkness and felt her heart grow, a spark of magic building. Suddenly she knew, she would find Her story in the darkness. She would find her story with the Others.