A piece that came out of a workshop recently.
The storytellers hands are lined. Lines upon lines upon lines. So much to read from them. Time encrusted fingers, nicotine stains. He doesn’t smoke. That is from another him. The storyteller has lived lives.
I am holding his head now, on the bench. I feel like I am taking something from him. Can stories transfer through touch? Can the grip of your fingers really tell me so much?
Suddenly I’m in a forest. Trees bear down on me. Mists fall down. A battle cry. I want to move. I cannot. I see the penants coming. I wonder at the first of the men. Two armies come together. I quickly climb the tree, arms pulling me up urgently. I have never felt so strong and yet so weak. Here I will see legends.
But I’m back on the seat again, holding his hand. His eyes are closed. He’s trying to speak to reassure me. I stroke his white hair. It feels a privilege to touch the storyteller.
Suddenly I’m at a court. The castle is so damp and it smells. The rushes on the floor are damp and I realise it’s piss. There’s food on the table, covered with flies. Something is rotten here.
Again I move out of the way. Witness what I can. There is a throne set out at the end of this magnificent room. Tapestries behind it. When they have finished their fetid feast, a bugle sounds.
The crown falls down on him. He cannot take it off. It has become part of him. He tries to move it as soon as it goes down. He looks at me, alarmed. I didn’t realise anyone could see me. I like to observe.
The storyteller is weaker now. I hold his hand but it is me doing all the holding. I go once more. This is the last time I will leave.
I’m on the banks of a river. It’s all concrete and there’s a terrible modern factory. I’m seeing a man in a hooded top and bright white trainers taking something from another man. A packet. Why did he have to take me here? The second man turns around, looking for me. I wonder what else is posed at me. I dodge behind a concrete tower, choking at the effort. It’s hard to breathe because of the fog.
The storyteller grips me one last time. And he is gone. So much is lost. I have taken on so much. I stare at the park at all the people, playing, walking dogs, walking children and wonder how I will serve them.
(c) Becky Deans 2013