A foreword to the novel "Story".
|"There was a subtle dignity in that act ..." (excerpt from chapter 25)
There is a dignity when weak, soft-skinned mortals march into a battle perhaps best fought by strong, vigorous immortals. There is dignity in taking up the cause of the strong, even when you are not strong yourself ... because you morally align with the strong in thought, if not in constitution.
There is a dignity on that morning when the weakest fighter in a regiment dresses for battle, kisses his wife and small children goodbye and with a deep breath steps onto the battlefield alongside tall giants ...
Knowing full well that he will be felled by the first gunshot or sword thrust and his life's blood will pour out of him and seep with haste into the cold, thirsty ground ...
Knowing full well that he will not be mourned by the strong along which he fights, for they will simply revile him for not being strong and hardy enough to last ...
But, also knowing that he will not be mourned by the weak, who cannot understand why he would go to battle in the first place, when he could've stayed home in his hamlet and taken up a gentler occupation.
But, if the cause is great, there is a dignity in that soldier's act. His heart beats alongside the valiant, and he must be true to who he is. He cannot conscience laying beside the fire in his cottage when his sense of right is at stake, anymore than those who repose by the fire can consider removing themselves from it and into active battle.
There is a dignity when the sword's metal point touches his heart ... and opens it up into the crisp, cold air ... when the tendons and veins and muscles snap reluctantly a part from each other and fall against the sharp prickles of grass on the field. When the heart breaks (chooses to break even) but does not bend.
I imagine that there must be a great wail of weeping among the angelic regiments in heaven at that moment.
The Story that I have told here in these pages is symbolically like this. It is a most beautiful story ... But, make no mistake ... it is a horrible one.
It is fully intended to be so. Each of the characters that I have weaved into this tale of mine exists, at some measure, on a symbolic level, and through their words and their lives I aim to touch and pry open those throbbing nerves in the human heart and make you think about how and why they throb so. But, I also desire to tell a story about two individuals and the beauty and endurance of their love against all, as well as the immutability of character. You should have a catch in your throat when the Story ends or, if early reviews can be relied upon, a tear in your eye. But, maybe you, like Mr. Gregory Towson, will also understand how beautifully deep love can run and will be motivated to find or cement a love of your own.
As for me, I exist outside of all the action as the mere author of this tale, but through the words of this tale, dear reader, I hope you don't mind me saying that I feel a certain kinship with you. No, I do not know you personally, nor will I likely ever meet you in life, but through the words of this one story we can share something beautiful, perhaps even poignant, with one another. For you will, in some respects, come to know me at a level that is emotionally more profound than that I share with some acquaintances.
So sit back, dear friend, and get comfortable. Pull up a cozy chair, take a long, deep breath ... and steady your heart ...
For I am going after it!
And, on that note, I suppose I'd better introduce myself now...
I will be your Storyteller for this evening. And oh, do I have a Story to share with you!!