Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1273917-The-Storyteller
Rated: E · Short Story · Contest · #1273917
The wind whispered secrets only the storyteller could hear.
The wind whispered secrets only the storyteller could hear.  She woke slowly and stretched gnarled fingers to sky in an ancient prayer that loomed like a steeple in the reflection of the night’s ebbing fire. 

With a grace belied by her crooked limbs and scarred skin, she stooped to find the wooden water pail, then walked in darkness to the river’s edge.  The storyteller read the prelude to autumn in the skeletal touch of stray branches against her cheek and the cooling of the earth’s skin beneath her bare feet.  She felt her own winter coming. 

She followed the songs of swans swooping down for one last sip from the river before their long flight south.  Sadness seeped from sky to weary joints and the storyteller thought of warmer times--times before the aftermath of the War of No Fault.  She had never experienced them herself, but as a child she had listened to the stories.  Now, as dawn turned a black sky deep purple, the storyteller’s old bones warmed at the thought of yellow.

Once there had been the written word for all to read and no need for storytellers.  But the war that nobody started and very few ended created the need.  A few special books had survived, but the retinas to read them had not.  In ten generations, humankind evolved eyesight again.  By then the sun was a deep purple, people lived in semi-darkness, and only the sacred lineage of storytellers knew how to read the written word. 

Asathia had been told this by her sacred grandmother just as she’d been told by her grandmother before her.  And, soon, Asathia would teach the newborn Alysa the secret woman art of reading.  She was the youngest of the unbroken lineage of storytellers.

As the storyteller returned to camp, the sounds of young boys playing made her shiver.  The words of the sacred book shouted in her thoughts, “There is a noise of war in the camp."  Wherever there are men, no matter how young, there is always the potential for war.

Knowing this truth eased the burden of what lay before her.

With renewed resignation to that which was ordained, Asathia fed the fire in the sacred women pit: oak to make the flames endure and ash to make their temperature rise.  She threw in sandalwood to sweeten the stink of searing flesh.

Then she summoned the females to bring Alysa of laughing blue eyes into the tent.  She prayed for the strength to perform the initiation.  The storyteller buried the wailing of her granddaughter beneath the sounds of the young boys‘ war noise and let the attendee guide her red-hot poker into the babe's eyes.  Soon black hollows would form to replace the laughing blues.  For this was Alysa's heritage, the mark of a storyteller.

The Story Hour was near.  Asathia could hear the scampering of the children as they approached her tent for their lesson.

The storyteller bent slowly and searched through her secret trove of books.  Her fingers slid swiftly over all the Braille titles.  She choose the sacred book and began to  read, “So I considered my world, and behold, it was lost, and my earth, and behold, it was in peril because of the devices of those who had come into it.”

Never again would a man learn to build a bomb.

© Copyright 2007 SendintheClown (sendintheclown at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates have been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work.
Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1273917-The-Storyteller