The Storyteller

So, it’s Tuesday! Remember last Tuesday? The World Without Books and the story prompt? Here’s mine, and if you wrote one – you can email it to me anytime and I’ll add it to this post. karen at livinginserendipity dot com And without further ado – (Oh I should say I’m really bad at titles, so don’t let the title discourage you from reading it.) –

The Storyteller

Sparks from the fire flew up into the clear night sky. The bitter cold threatened and I snuggled closer to my father while I listened to the Storyteller. My village, most of them anyway, huddled around the warm fire and listened to the tales he spun out of the air. A few times a year a Storyteller came to our village and it was always a festive time. The adults would gather with him to learn news of other villages, receive bundles of gifts from far off relatives who wanted to be remembered. As for us children, we waited for the nighttime when the stories would begin.

” … and then the bear rose up on his feet with a mighty roar. I could see he was well over six feet taller than I was, but I trusted my spear. My spear had never let me down before – my father, who was a great warrior – told me it was blessed by my ancestors and had indeed been used by my own grandfather.

“The shaggy bear shook his gigantic head and roared again. I drew back my spear, aiming directly for his heart and was just ready to throw it when a lion appeared behind the bear. It was the biggest lion I’d ever seen!” The Storytellers face shone in the firelight as he walked around the fire, his voice ringing out in the clear air. His arms were stretched out and he made a sound like the bear – a huge, horrible roar like I’d never heard before. I wanted to sit closer to my father, if that were possible, but I didn’t want to show fear. Then I felt his hand on my back and immediately felt safe. My mother smiled at me. She still thought I was a baby.

“The lion was stalking the bear. A bear twice his own size! Quickly I began to think. I had only one spear but two enemies. If the bear was wounded and got away, he would be more dangerous to me, but if the lion killed him then I would have to kill the lion – a much harder kill. I took a deep breath, aimed for the bear’s heart and threw my spear with all my strength. There was a great crashing as the bear fell to the ground and then all was quiet. Where was the lion?” As the Storyteller made his way around the fire, he began to peer into the darkness, looking for the lion. I started to think there could very well be a lion out there, just waiting for his turn in the story. I tensed up.

“I could not find the lion. Perhaps he sensed my superior strength and he ran away!” The Storyteller gave a great, loud laugh. A few of our villagers laughed as well, but it was a nervous laugh. “So, forget the lion I told myself, you’ve got a bear to butcher! And such a bear would take weeks to butcher. I could well afford to leave some meat behind for the lion. I pulled out my knife as I approached the giant bear – I needed to make sure he was well and truly dead.

“I kicked one large foot and it just wobbled back and forth. I took a few more steps and kicked his gigantic paw. It just lay there. I felt fairly confident he was well and truly dead. I grasped the end of my spear to pull it out, but it would not come free. I pulled and pulled but it would not budge. The bear would not release it to me!

“Puzzled, I walked around the bear and what I saw pure amazed me. You wouldn’t believe it if I were to tell you.” He grinned and looked around the fire. “You still want me to tell you? Do you promise to believe me?” We all shouted yes, yes!

“Well okay then. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.” The Storyteller crouched and walked carefully, as if walking around that bear. “As I got to the back of the bear, I saw a strange thing. The strangest thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life. My spear had gone through the bear completely, and then through THE LION,” he roared, “and THEN both enemies were speared to a tree stump!” He threw out his arms and lifted them to the sky. “What do you think of that?”

My father laughed and then I realized it was a tall tale. I laughed with my father, but my relief was huge. I really believed there was either the lion or the bear waiting in the darkness. He was a good Storyteller.

I leaned against his knee as he talked with my mother, and then our neighbor. Everyone was laughing over the tale and in good spirits. I grinned at my friend who sat with his family across the fire and he grinned back. These were the happy times, the times that would be remembered when we were snowed in or when food was scarce. We’d laugh and joke about the giant bear and the lion, and suddenly things would seem better. You were always warmer if you laughed, especially if you could laugh with your family.

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