**I have not written in a bit so we are going to just practice. I am going to tell you a story, not about anyone real, just a story. I hope you enjoy it, but if you don’t…well, it really was only for practicing purposes anyway.**
Once, a long time ago, there lived a young girl and her sister. This young girl had a mother who was perhaps not really ready to have children and was, shall we say, not so nice to them all the time. She would play mean and hurtful games with them and she would punish them in horrible ways and she would always tell them that they were ugly and stupid. But, the sisters had each other and the older sister felt it was her job to take care of the younger sister. Neither sister really knew what it was like to be a child but they did know how to escape; they would huddle together and the older sister would begin to tell stories. She invented worlds that the sisters would go to to escape their reality. They went to other planets, they became princesses, they had loving families and most of the time they committed great acts of bravery and always conquered whatever challenge they were facing.
For years the sisters lived this way. The older sister became a very good storyteller and often the younger sister would just sit and listen to the stories for hours under the tree in their back yard after they had their chores done for the day. The older sister never told the younger sister this, but the stories seemed to come from a deep well inside of her mind. It was almost as if someone else was telling the stories and she was just repeating what was said. She thought about it sometimes and brushed it off. As long as she was protecting her younger sister and making her smile, what did it matter where the stores came from.
More time passed and the sisters became older. When the older sister was 16, there was a terrible fight with her mother and she was thrown out of the only home that she had ever known and torn away from the only family that she had. She was cast out into the world with nothing and nowhere to go. For years she drifted aimlessly and didn’t realize that her stories had left her. She went from one hurt to the next and had no world to escape into. No act of writing or telling the story to remind her that she could conquer anything. She tried to find herself and failed. Her world had changed, and her muse was gone.
Just when she thought she was at the bottom of her life she found love and began her ascent back up. It was not the fairy tale love that she had read about when she was younger, but she gave her whole heart and it was enough. Suddenly, she had stories again. At first they were just stories for her children. Silly tales that were made up to make them laugh. Tales of things that were impossible but always put her children as conquering heroes of epic proportions. Later, her stories morphed into memories that she wanted to keep as her tired mind began to lose the threads to them so she wrote them down or snapped photos of them. As one by one, her children left home to spread their wings she had her stories to remind her of a time when laughter filled her home all hours of the day. And still she felt as if someone else were doing the telling.
Finally, in the twilight of her life she felt the need to have one more adventure. Her aged body groaned at the thought of the task she was considering. For reasons unknown to her, she felt compelled to climb the stairs in the mountains near her that led to heights unknown. No one that she ever talked to had made it completely to the top of the stairs and come back down to tell the tale. Rumors told of Indians building the stairs to visit the Great Spirit. Most likely there was another reason, perhaps a logging company in the old days or a tycoon that wanted a house on a mountaintop. All she knew is she felt the need to climb them.
As she put her foot on the first step she almost turned back, however the pull was too strong. As she made her way to the first landing she noticed that the mist had cleared and there were a million stars that seemed to hang so close that she could pluck a star out of the sky with her hand if she chose. As she reached the second landing she realized that the air smelled cleaner and sweeter than she had ever smelled before. At the third landing she realized that she could see farther than she had in a long time. As she continued to climb she felt younger and more energized. She felt stronger. She felt alive! After what seemed like forever, she saw that she was one landing from the top of the tower.
Hesitantly she made her way up the last set of steps and noticed that there was a figure standing there. Her view of him was unclear, he seemed to be standing in the shadow of an enormous tree that was growing nearby. “Hello” she said tentatively. “Do you mind if I take in the view?”
For a moment she was not sure if he was going to reply and then his deep soothing voice rumbled across her skin, “I have been waiting for you for a long time.”
She was taken aback. Who was this and why was he waiting for her, and why was his voice so familiar to her? He must have read the questions on her face because after a pauses he continued, “Your heart knows me. I have always been with you. I am your storyteller. I gave you the stories. I couldn’t help you any other way when you needed it the most and it was important for you to not become bitter or angry with life. You had a very important purpose in this world, in this life and the next and we are not permitted to physically interfere. It was the only way open to me.”
“Why? What purpose could I have possibly had?”
“Hope. Your stories spread hope. Your happiness and love of life spread to others. You helped keep the darkness that threatens the human race at bay. You are a shining beacon in the darkest of nights. You looked in the face of evil and desolation and chose to be happy. You chose to see beauty and goodness. You gave others hope.”
“You said in this world and the next…” She suddenly looked back the way she had come and realized that the stairs were gone. All around her was the world, but she was no longer a part of it.
“Yes. When you chose to make the climb you slipped out of the life that you had. Your time had come to an end. Tonight you move on to your next great adventure.”
“Not any more than anything is ever gone once it dies. You have changed. You have become something different. You can either go on to the next level or you can continue to spread hope.”
The sister looked behind him and saw another staircase leading up and looked at the figure still shaded by the tree. “You say that I spread hope, you say I beat back the dark, I am, or was, one person…my voice is very small. And now I have no voice at all. How can I spread hope?”
He chuckled low and deep in the middle of a sigh. “You never did believe enough in yourself. You showed others by the way that you lived that there was beauty in the world. You showed others that you didn’t have to be mean to others if you didn’t want to be. You let others believe that everything was going to be OK in the end. Your stories always had good defeating evil. They made people believe that they might be able to defeat evil as well. The way you lived your life, unapologetic ally and open showed people that even if life gave you scars you could come through the other side.” She saw his head shaking as he continued. “Your voice, your photos, your memories will live on. And you, should you choose to do so, can be the stories for another very special girl. Look over here.”
As she looked where his arm was pointed she saw a little girl dressed in last year’s clothing and watched as she got a bottle and gave it to a baby not much younger than she was. She saw a mother sleeping on the couch and she saw fresh bruises on the girl’s thigh. She also saw tenderness and a fierce protectiveness in the girl’s eyes. As the young girl rocked the baby the sister heard her say, “Once Upon A Time…”
With tears in her eyes she looked at the great shadowy man and said, “Of course. I will give her all my stories. I will whisper them in her ear so that she never feels alone.” She felt him smile as he said, “I always knew you would make the right choice. Angels always do. Your soul has always been a pure one.” He sighed again. “My time here has come to an end. As you begin being the storyteller, I am ending. It is time for me to move on.”
“But wait…you mean I won’t see you again? How will I know what to do?”
He stopped with his foot on the first stair and the clouds above him began to part as the sun finally shone on his face. She was taken aback. She had seen him in her dreams. He had been there telling her that she was not a failure and that things would be allright when she was at her lowest point. She had always thought of him as a very vivid dream that she had had. And there he stood. “Yes, I broke the rules and came to you when you needed me the most. Turned out okay in the end. As for knowing what to do…follow what your heart tells you. Besides, you are the storyteller now. You can tell it any way you like. We have been around since time began. We are the keepers of human history. And now I pass it all to you. I will miss you more than you know little one.”
He turned again and began his climb. As his foot hit the second tread she suddenly knew every story ever told. She held all of the stories of man inside of her. She felt immense and small at the same time. She felt drunk on wonder and humbled beyond belief. As she turned to say one more thing to him, she realized that she was alone on the mountaintop. She had climbed the stairs out of her life and into an adventure of unknown proportions.
To this day, the stairway exists. Be prepared when you climb it that you may hear her stories on the wind. You may hear her voice in the trees and you may carry a story home in your heart. It will seem as if someone else is telling it to you but come from you. And if you are the next storyteller the stairs await you to make your choice. To make the choice to spread hope in this life and the next. To help those who need a boost. To make the few believe that they can conquer whatever challenge they are facing. The storyteller will be there waiting for you. Until then she will continue to be a beacon of hope in a world where night can be so very black. She will continue to light your way home when you thought all was lost. And she will whisper her stories in your ear reminding you that even when you think you are, you are never truly alone and you are always loved just as you are.
**If you have read this work of fiction, I hope you enjoyed it. Below you will find a photo of the stairway to the storyteller…or maybe not***