I am sitting on the ground.
The moss is soft and springy beneath me. Morning dew gathers in shiny, pearl-like beads on top of the moss and on the leaves of the trees above me. The damp seeps through the seat of my shorts, but I don’t care. Soon the sun’s rays will be strong enough to evaporate the moisture from both the foliage and my clothes.
I lean against the wide trunk with my legs stretched out before me. The bark of the old tree is scratchy on my back through the cotton of my tank top. A canopy of intertwined branches covers me with a ceiling of green. The rising sun filters through the leaves, casting lacy patterns on the forest floor. A spider dangles before my eyes, suspended on a invisible strand of silk. I blow a gentle puff of air, and it retracts up the thread, returning to the safety of its web in the broad branches above me.
I close my eyes, but I am not sleepy. I’m waiting for The Storyteller to begin spinning her tales.
The Storyteller is sitting on the other side of the tree, her back braced against the same trunk, her shorts also muddy from the damp loam beneath her. We appear to be as alike as paper dolls cut from the folded edge of a sheet of paper; together we form a symmetrical image of two women sitting beneath a grand giant of a tree. In reality, we we more like two sides of a coin — both of us inherent to the whole, but very different in the details.
I wait, not talking, not moving, for the The Storyteller to begin. I wonder what story she will spin for me today. I like it best when she makes me laugh, as she did when she told me about the camping trip where she forgot to bring a tent, or the night she took her family to the ballet — with disastrously comical results.
Perhaps she will weave a tale of love and loss and redemption; she knows I don’t mind crying if a happy ending is in sight. She might offer up a lighthearted mystery, or thrill me with a dramatic account of survival in the midst of a natural disaster. The truth is, I never know what story The Storyteller will choose to share with me. I’m not sure she knows herself, right up until the moment the words begin to flow from her.
I’m impatient in my waiting now, and more than a little concerned about her continued silence. I lean around the base of the tree to see if The Storyteller is still there. I catch only a glimpse of her brown eyes, and then she is gone, fading into the woods like the fog over the river.
I twist back around then, and open the notebook resting on my outstretched legs. My pen is poised over the page, and I can feel the warm breath of The Storyteller stirring the hair over my ear as she whispers to me.
I smile at her words, and begin to write.
Flash Fiction Friday returns next week, on Friday, July 25th!
(The Storyteller was inspired by a writing initiation tool from the book The Right to Write by Julia Cameron. Photo from Pixabay.)