There’s a place in the woods behind the house where I grew up that nobody knows about but me.
It’s not far from where I used to live, but the woods thicken before you reach it, and there is no path. This renders it difficult to find, I wouldn’t have found it myself had I not been the kind of child who easily became obsessed with the abstract ideal of exploration.
The fact that I couldn’t get there easily only made me want to see what was out there even more.
It’s a little clearing in the middle of the woods, with high, thick trees obscuring the view back to the town. If you hadn’t walked there, and you’d have to walk there, you’d never know it was anywhere near civilization.
It’s beautiful area. Very peaceful.
Except for one night a year, in the fall. That night, when the moon is high and heavy, a crack of lightning rends the sky in twain, and a great, gaping chasm opens in the very earth itself.
Out of that chasm steps the Storyteller.
He’s tall, and thin, a thing more of shadow than flesh, his smile seemingly made of the very moonlight that is the only source of life.
He’s not human, exactly, though if you squint your eyes a little you could pretend he was if you need to believe him to be.
I never needed that particular belief.
And for that night, he spins his tales. Tales of mystery, and of horror, tales of adventure, or ones that paint worlds as more beautiful and bizarre than anyone could possibly imagine.
Exactly as beautiful and bizarre as the world truly is, if we chose to see it.
He spins his yarns ‘til daybreak, then steps back into the chasm, which closes up behind him, leaving no trace of what’s occurred. And for another year it’s over. He’s gone, and there is no trace lingering to give any clue as to what’s occurred.
They aren’t long stories, the tales the Storyteller weaves, but they somehow ring true to me, and I love them. They move me, they define me. if I hadn’t found this clearing when I was a child I have no idea what sort of person I’d be today.
My life would be a more meager thing, to be sure.
I still find the time to go back to my hometown once a year. I no longer have family out that way, no real reason to visit, yet every year I’m drawn back, unable to resist the impulse to return. And when the Storyteller makes his annual appearance I’m there, alone, coat torn by branches as I fight my way through the woods, to bear witness to the tales he tells. Saying nothing, never making a sound, simply hearing.
I believe he’d tell his stories even if there was nobody to listen, but it still seems right and natural to be there, a story’s not a proper story until it’s heard.
I listen, and jot down what he chooses to share. Then I take them home, and for the next year publishing them to this blog…
…wait, had you thought I’d been writing these myself?