I had to write a story about a quest for my storytelling class. A story that began with “Once upon a time a girl….” The story was to be written from beginning to end in one sitting. Well, here it is. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE WRITING??? I totally do. It’s like….giving birth without the pain and sleepless nights……;o) Enjoy……
Once upon a time there was a girl that wanted to hide. You may ask what she wanted to hide from. The answer may surprise you. She was not plagued by mean parents, or ugly stepsisters, or even hungry wolves. No, the person she wanted most to hide from was herself. You see, she was a very busy sort of person. Not in the physical way, but more in the thinking way. She would spend her days thinking about all sorts of things. While the other children were thinking of what color to paint their pictures, she was thinking about the way the colors blended, the way the light hit them, questioning why things were the colors they were, and where exactly colors came from. She would analyze every little thing that came her way. If she was called upon to answer a question, the answer was never yes or no. The answer was more of a question in itself.
‘What color is grass’ the teacher might ask. The girl would answer with the question…’what kind of grass? Is it in the shade or in the sun? is it long and ready to be mowed or dry and dormant in winter? Has it been getting watered? Has it been laid on by a dog lately?
The teachers through the years came to avoid asking her questions. They tiptoed around her and were relieved when the end of the year would arrive and they could pass her along to the next grade to frustrate the next teacher.
You might think this would frustrate the girl and make her sad and lonely but, you would be wrong. She didn’t have any good friends, but she didn’t really know that. She talked to everyone. She shared her thoughts and her life with all that were around her. The other children liked her stories and the way she explained things, but after a while they would drift away and she would move to the next group of children. Looking for any audience she could find.
As the years went on and the girl grew older, she became more and more engrossed in her own way of thinking. She heard everything that was said and so much more. The words between the words became louder than what was said until she found she was lost in the vastness of her own mind. Her thoughts grew louder and louder until she could no longer hear anyone else.
She longed for a quiet moment. A moment not filled with thoughts that urged her ever onward to deeper and more complex ideas. She wanted to get away, get away from herself.
She decided to set out on a quest to escape her own mind. She wasn’t sure how to do it, but knew that the more she thought about it, the harder it would be so she just left. She didn’t pack a bag or leave a note, she just left. She started walking down the path into the forest near their town. She walked straight ahead, never looking to the right or the left until the night had fallen and it was quite dark. When it got so dark she could no longer see where to place her feet, she sat down, exhausted and slept on the ground. The thoughts in her mind were racing. She thought about the night, the sky, the stars, the creatures in the forest around her. She thought about her family and the worry they must be feeling for her. She thought about the future, where she would end up and the danger she must surely be in. And then, she slept.
Her dreams were not much of an escape. She had wild, colorful dreams full of monsters and cliffs and raging waters. She dreamt of living things and things that were dead. She dreamt until the sun came up and woke her with it’s heat. She had slept a long time but she was not rested. Her mind seemed to be working even harder when she slept. She staggered to her feet and started walking again. She was thirsty and tired but just kept on walking. Hours passed as she kept to her straight trail. If you had seen her walking, you might have commented on how silent she was. She barely made a noise as she walked through the trees. But to her, it was like walking through a crowded, noisy street full of shouting people. The thoughts in her head gave her no rest. They got louder and louder the farther she went into the forest.
After a while she came to a small thatched cottage in a clearing. An old woman was in the front yard tending to her garden. The woman called to her as she drew near, saying hello and asking her if she was lost. The girl did not hear. Her thoughts were too loud. They had gotten into her eyes and she did not even see the woman, nor the cottage. The woman made her way out of her yard and stepped right in front of the girl. The girl stumbled as she walked into the woman.
‘Dear me, are you blind girl?’ the old woman asked as she peered curiously into the girl’s eyes.
The girl shook her head and muttered a soft cry of pleading.
The old woman looked deep into her eyes and then nodded in understanding.
“come with me. I know what you need.”
She led the girl through the garden and into her cottage. She sat her in a rocking chair and put a blanket over her. The girl sat with wild eyes and rocked and rocked. The old woman busied herself about the kitchen making a simple lunch for the two of them.
After they had eaten, she asked the girl where she was headed. The girl was afraid to speak. Afraid that all the thoughts that were in her head would come rushing out and crush the old woman. She shook her head and pursed her lips.
The old woman looked deep into her eyes and then spoke these words to her.
‘You must go to the well at the top of the hill. There you will find two ropes. One rope is small and frail while the other is thick and strong. Tie the thick rope around your waist and lower yourself into the well. Do not be afraid. This is a special well. It is the well of words and thoughts and ideas that fill the world. Lower yourself to the bottom of the well. When you get there, you will see a light in the distance. Follow the light to the source. You will know what to do when you get there. When you are done, use the small rope to pull yourself out of the well and come back to me.’
The girl had no idea what the woman was talking about but was willing to try anything to escape her plague of thoughts.
The next morning, she set off to the top of the hill to find the well the woman had described to her. She walked all morning and finally reached the well at mid afternoon. She saw the two ropes the woman had described and tied the thick one around her waist.
You may think that this was an easy task for her, but you must remember that every thing she did, she analyzed. She thought about all the different possible outcomes of going into the well. She considered the craziness of the old woman and her possible ulterior motives. She thought about everything. Her head hurt with the thoughts that just kept on coming. The noise in her head was unbearable. She decided that if she fell to her death by trusting the old woman, it would at least be a relief from her unrelenting thoughts. She lowered herself down into the well.
It was a deep well. Far deeper than she had imagined. She went down and down for over an hour. When she finally reached the bottom, she was in a panic. The claustrophobia was crushing. As her feet hit bottom, she cried out in terror, but then saw the faint light off in the distance. Gathering every ounce of courage she could muster, she untied the rope and started walking, slowly, towards the light.
With each step, the light grew brighter. After a short while, she was standing in a small room filled with shelves along every wall. On every shelf was a wooden box. There were large ones and small ones and even round ones. Some were plain and dull while others were brightly polished with ornate designs on them. The girl looked around and wondered what she should do. The woman had said that she would know what to do, but she didn’t. Maybe this was a trap after all! She walked over to the wall closest and picked up a box. It was extremely light! She carefully opened it and was surprised to see that nothing was inside. The emptiness made her think of the math problems she had worked on last week. The ones that plagued her mind because she could see so much more than what her teacher understood. As she thought about the math, she felt the box grow heavier until she had to set it back on the shelf to avoid dropping it. She stepped back in surprise. She could not remember what she had been thinking about a moment ago. She saw another wooden box a little ways deeper into the room and decided to see if it was also empty. Again, as she picked it up, she was surprised at how light it was. She looked at the beautiful carved design on the lid and opened it up to find, nothing inside. But the design had reminded her of another thought that had plagued her. The more she thought about it, the heavier the box became until she once again, had to set it down. This time, as she set the box down, she not only noticed its increase in weight, but also a slight light feeling in her mind. She realized what was going on. The boxes were taking her load. She suddenly felt alive and full of purpose. She fairly ran to the next box. As she opened it, her thoughts started pouring out. She could not keep quiet this time. She started talking and pouring out her thoughts and dreams and wishes and fears. The boxes started opening around the room. As they filled, they would snap shut and slide back on their shelves. She talked and thought and emptied her mind for what seemed like days. Her voice grew hoarse and she ran out of words and breath.
She finally sat in the middle of the room, exhausted but happy. Her mind was quiet. She breathed in the sweet earthen smell of the room and was just quiet. She sat listening. Waiting to hear the massive onrush of thoughts returning, but there was no rush. No noise. Only one thought was left in her mind.
You may wonder what that one thought was. What thought she had held back. What one thing did she want to keep for herself. What was so important that she could not let it be locked away in one of the wooden boxes.
Well, I’ll tell you what it was. “use the smaller rope to pull yourself out of the well.”
She didn’t want to stay in that hole forever!