Sunday, November 23, 2014

NaNoWriMo 1K-A-Day: Day 23

At the well in the center of town, I stopped to take stock of my surroundings. The townspeople behaved normally enough; I saw smiles and nods between passing neighbors, and various craftsmen strolled through the streets, calling out the nature of their wares to invite purchases:

“Knives to grind! Anyone? Get your knives sharpened while you wait!”
“Flowers for sale! Fresh woodland flowers for sale!”
“Who would like a penny bun? Only a penny, every one!”

I sighed and seated myself on the low bench next to the well. So much of humanity—and yet they acted like the little house with three orphaned children did not exist. It was someone else’s problem—like the stone in the road.

I heard the thunk of tin on wood, and I looked over. A small boy with golden hair climbed up on the bench next to me with a little tin pot in his hand. He stood and leaned against the side of the well, paying no attention to the stranger sitting next to him, all of his attention focused on acquiring the water for his parched throat. He reached out a pudgy hand and seized the rope, pulling deftly to draw the bucket toward him. When it was high enough, he wrapped the rope around a small cleat on the side of the well shaft, and had his fill from the hanging bucket.

As he sat on the bench, swinging his feet and smacking happily on his cup, I soon discerned his round, solemn eyes fixed upon me. Drink finished, he put down his cup and immediately inquired, as if confirming a rumor of grave import, “Do you tell stories?”
The question was so sudden as to be somewhat out of place, but by now I understood that “out of place” on this journey typically meant that this was the intention of whatever Wordspinner magic guided us onward.
“Yes,” I answered the boy with an equal gravity to his own. “Would you like to hear a story?”
He smiled, squinting his blue eyes and showing his tiny white teeth. “Yes please,” he answered readily.
It wasn’t the audience I had been hoping for, but I started my tale anyway.
“Once upon a time,” I said, “There lived a king who ruled a large and prosperous kingdom. He was a good king, noble, and wise, and he wanted to rule his people well. But all was not well in the kingdom, for many of the citizens in the kingdom were unhappy, and daily the halls of the king rang with their complaints…”

I told the boy the entire story I had dreamed, from beginning to end. He laughed at the antics of the arrogant women, he frowned at the squabbling merchants—and he smiled when the simple peasant boy finally came along to roll away the stone, and received recognition from the king for his efforts and selflessness.

When the story finished, I heard a voice ask, “What does it mean?”
I raised my eyes. Somehow during the telling of my tale, villagers had stopped to listen at various times, and now the boy and I had a fair crowd standing around the well. Everyone was watching, having silently hung on every word. Among those gathered were the boy’s parents, and he immediately hopped down and toddled through the hard-packed dirt to cling to his father’s pant leg.
The man who had spoken stood just beside me. He had a grey jacket, a black hat with a wide brim, and enormous whiskers that clung to his jowls like an extra face on his chin. He blinked his wide, smoky-grey eyes at me. “Well?” His voice rumbled. “You have told your tale; now tell us what it means!”
A murmur of assent spread through the crowd. My mind seemed to sputter in my head, like a wheel that can’t quite roll its way out of a small rut. Was this what it felt like to be a Wordspinner? A story that basically tells itself—and now I had to convey some sort of moral? I opened my mouth, hoping that the words would come of their own volition, as the story had.

“Ah,” I said.

“Ah?” The man stabbed the ground with his cane. “That is all you have to say? What sort of a story does not have a meaning?”

Quickly, I began speaking as my words began drawing the correlations my mind had already sensed between the story and the real world events.
“All stories have meaning,” I assured the man, speaking loud enough so that everyone could hear. “And the meaning of this one is simple,” I looked around at the crowd and climbed up so that I stood upon the bench. “You all,” I swept my finger over the crowd, “are like those subjects who passed by the rock and resolved to see that someone else shouldered the burden of responsibility in attending to it!”
“What?” The whole crowd gasped and began turning each to his and her neighbor, whispering accusations and shifting blame hither and thither.
“It is true!” I continued. “There is a stone in the road right here in this town, and each of you has passed it by without consideration for your neighbors!”
“What do you mean?” asked the mother of the boy who had first asked me for a story. She glanced around the square. “Our roads are clean; if there had been a stone, surely one of us would have already removed it!”
“Yeah!” cried a youth standing at the back of the crowd. “Especially if a king or nobleman had hidden treasure underneath it!” Many people laughed at the joke.

“Is gold the only treasure?” I asked him. From my vantage point, I could see Belak and Larryn coming to stand in front of the little house, with Greyna and the three orphans in tow. “Do you really think that the meaning of a story is always so literal? When I spoke of a stone in the road, the meaning you so ardently seek refers to an unfortunate circumstance here among your number that every one of you passes by each day without a second glance—and not one of you has availed themselves of the opportunity to be the person to roll away the stone, to take responsibility for the circumstance, and thereby reap the reward that is concealed within.”

Also from "Inkweaver":

-The Legend of The Wordspinners
-The Last Inkweaver  
-What Are You Afraid Of?  
-In The Inkweaver's Cottage 
-The Unfinished Tapestry 
-Tales of the Inkweaver: "The Three Daughters"
-In The House Of The Talesmith 
-"The Invisible Gift" and "Forward Unto Danger" 
-Escape From Blackrope 
-The Rise and Fall of Morgianna Plontus-Byrmingham 
-The Morning After 
-Tales of The Inkweaver: "The Four Travellers
-In the Court of Count Bergen 
-"The Four Travellers" Part 2 
-Do You See What I See?
-Welcome to Criansa
-Meeting Delia
-A Nice Cup of (Honest) Tea
-Saving Margo
-Confessions
-Tales of The Inkweaver: "Four Animals in Partnership"
-Tark Trades People
-"Plotting" and "Meet Tark's Crew"
-Storytime for Tark
-Tales of The Inkweaver: "The Stone in The Road"
-Moon Valley
-Writer's Eyes