When the world was made, every person was given one and only one shadow, but one of the beings who were assigned to be caretakers of the world decided that he would give a gift to his people. Their lands were rich with life and their songs to him were sweet. So he decided that he would give each of them an extra shadow.
“Wait until you are within the borders of the forest before you open the box, else you have failed before you have begun.”
With those words, the schoolmaster turned away and left Naji alone before the borders of the forest.
Naji entered the forest with no other possessions but that box, as the test required. He carried no water, no food, no clothing but what he already wore, no bedroll, nothing to trade or barter with.
But that is what he had chosen. A box.
I glanced at the clean white bandage wrapped around her left hand and a good ways down her wrist.
“It’s going to be all right,” I said. “I’m here to help.”
The steely-eyed woman sitting across from me in the booth gave a single nod. She wasted no time on small talk and launched straight into her first question.
“The Axiom Enchiridion, ever heard of it?”
The thief fell from the tower’s upper window. She had lost her precarious grip on the pitted brick. She remembered that she should roll herself up into a loose ball to protect her head and neck. But by the time she remembered, she had already struck the first branch of the tree in the orchard below. Then she struck another and another. Scratched and thrashed and bounced about, she finally reached the ground, thankful that the soil was soft. She lay there for far too long a moment. The breath had been knocked out of her. And she feared moving for fear she might discover that she could not.
When the alarm went off, the soft music and chirping birds growing louder and louder, Audrey already knew that it was far, far too late.
When the young woman appeared, garbed in robes of green and a wide belt of scarlet, the two treasure-seekers understood at once that she was the temple guardian. And they did not hesitate to approach her.
“Greetings, travelers,” the temple guardian said. “Give me your names.”
The two treasure-seekers gave her their names freely.
She did not return their offer of names, nor did she return their smiles.
“Turn back, travelers,” the temple guardian said, her voice calm and measured. “Go no further than the spot where I now stand.”
The starry-eyed youth named Carson cast his gaze at the full moon. His father had just cursed it, or rather, he had cursed those who dwelt upon it.
“A storm is coming,” his father said, gazing up at the low and looming clouds. “A storm with high winds.”
Yet another storm, the fourth one in as many days.
“Soon it will storm day and night,” his father said. And then he raised a fist to the full bright moon and shook it.
The Contest Chevelure was a time-honored competition held in a modest town in the middle of a modest country. It was a contest to see who could have the most extravagant and beautiful head of hair. Only, there was one notable detail. None of the people in the town had any hair on their heads.
“Why does there have to be winter?”
The asker was my little niece, all bundled up in black-and-silver fleece blankets. Her favorite colors. She didn’t ask the question just out of curiosity. She was frowning slightly. Winter had swallowed up her favorite season, autumn. (The season to which her only objection was, “why does there have to be so much orange?”).
I smiled. “Do you want the scientific explanation or the non-scientific explanation?”
This week’s story will be posted soon. This is the anniversary post for Storyfeather’s fifth year!
The Year of S.T.E.A.M. is done! That was the theme for Storyfeather Year Five. Science. Technology. Engineering. Arts. Mathematics. Year Five’s stories aimed to center around one of the aforementioned elements. It was quite the challenge.
Also a challenge, keeping the bar for the artwork as high as I could manage after the visual upgrade the site received in Year Four.
Thank you to everyone who read even a single story. And if you liked or commented, thank you again. Thank you for your time and interest, and for being a part of Storyfeather, especially Year Five.
A lot happened in the fifth year stories. A cast and crew of middle school students put on an original play about cosmic heroes and deadly aliens. A malfunctioning beauty product gave whole new meaning to the term “vanishing cream.” An explorer got lost in a spatiotemporal anomaly that was once the treasure vault of an alien pirate. And a woman started turning into a cartoon…
I’ve written over 250 stories now. And I’ve produced 52 podcast episodes (one for each story from Year One). Year Five was a (sometimes delirious) struggle, but well worth it. Storytelling is still my true love, still my destiny, still my path.
Year Six is on the horizon. Here’s to seeing what stories will brew. I hope you’ll come along.
I have stories to tell you.