Once upon a time there was a story. It was a nice story, but not too good. It was a little sad, but not terrible in the least. And because it was neither here nor there, nobody felt in any rush to tell it. Each evening, as story hour approached, the not too good, not that bad story was brushed aside in favor of more dangerous, more tragic or more glorious tales. What the story tellers liked to tell, and what the story listeners liked to hear, were exciting things. In the very least, the tellers and their audience wished for something interesting for their evening's entertainment. And this particular story was anything but interesting.

Gloaming after gloaming, vespers after vespers, the story was ignored. It soon grew thin and forgetful, for to a story not being told is like not eating, and not being listened to is like not sleeping. As time past, the poor story shriveled into a right dreadful thing. Its plot was as musty and threadbare as an old sheet, and its characters had become as thin and one-dimensional as a sketch stuffed away into a closet, unfinished and forgot.

It made its way to an obscure corner of the room, and floated somewhere in-between the ceiling and the floor, waiting, waiting, for its chance to be told.

But nobody paid it any mind, not even a second thought. Someone did however crack open the window, and that's how the poor story found itself next to a bus stop, clinging to a lamppost for all it was worth, going through the motions of falling apart.

Do you want to know one of the cruelest things about being a story? I'll tell you. Stories never die. They can be lost, they can be forgotten, they can even exist eternally untold, but they never, ever are obliterated. Once they are made, that's it, they exist until the end of time. Or the end of the end, whichever comes first. Or whichever is more catastrophic.

Now ,I don't know who was to blame for our down-and-out story's suffering, but it doesn't really matter. The way things are, stories are thought up every second, but there's only one story hour for each day. You do the math. This poor un-creature was just another statistic in the war between the Reality and the Imaginatory. It was just another casualty of a mediocre mind- the type that likes to dream, but doesn't really care enough about its dreams to provide them with the life they deserve.

And it would be another thing if the story was bad, or evil. Then, maybe it would be best that it wasted away to almost nothing. But as we all know, the worst of them always get told: there are few things more entertaining than the evil, the bad, and the distasteful.

Anyhow, there the story clung, like tissue paper in February left over from a May Day parade. Unsightly, sure, but nobody was inclined to touch it.

Well, one day, Macy Vermilion decided to take her cousin Odysseus Casper on a field trip to the Q'seum down town. She decided to do this despite the fact that he was narcoleptic, and inclined to fall asleep even while crossing the street when the red hand is flashing: 'Rush, you fool! Rush!'

Macy decided to take Odysseus on a midweek outing because she was tired of hanging out in his back yard. And if he decided to nod off in front of the Poppets through the Ages exhibit, that would be better than watching him snore away on the freshly mown greens of his regulation sized badminton court. She didn't think she could handle anymore badminton solitaire.

And get this: it so happened that Odysseus clonked out at the very bus stop the poor old story was haunting. Here's a sample of Macy's and Odysseus' conversation right before he catapulted off to snoozesville:

Macy: 'So, Odysseus, have you read any good books lately?'

Odysseus: 'Macy, you know I can't read more than a page or two at a time.'

M: 'Well, have you heard any good stories lately?'

O: 'I don't believe in stories.'

M: 'Really? That must be a real bummer. What do you do for entertainment?'

O: 'I dream.'

M: 'Well okay then, tell me one of your dreams. They're interesting, aren't they?'

O: 'Zzzzz.'

M: 'Hey, there's our bus! Odysseus? Odysseus? Oh, drats to the Chesapeake sky! Not again!'

To Macy, having Odysseus fall asleep right there, right then, as the bus was coming, was something of a major drag, even though she was expecting it to happen. But to the washed out story, this was a lucky break. Why? Because a snoozing brain is greatly impressionable. Not to just anything, of course. Like, if you happen to be out camping with your best friend, and she falls asleep before you do, you can't just close your eyes and waltz on into her dreams. If you concentrate hard enough, and know how to unlock the gates of her psyche, you might be able to do it, at the risk of never finding your way out again. In fact, even the Renown Doktor Othersuch, with all of his whacked out technology and frightful expertise, he can't dip into the Dreaming like you or I would jump on a bike and pedal across the bridge. Its a very complex operation, dream delving is, but to a story, entering a sleeping mind is like walking through an automatic door at a supermarket. As long as its not walking too fast, it can get to the produce section in not time flat, without hitch, twitch, or security violation.

This was definitely a luck break, the luckiest of all the breaks in its broken life, but the story nearly missed out on it. It had become so crusty and sad that it couldn't see too clearly. That is, it only saw how depressed it was, which amounted to seeing as well as a mole in the middle of a dessert on a bright day. The story's eyes were so used to the darkness of his life's cruel arc, that it couldn't see the lucky break for what it was. Actually, the lucky break was so blindingly bright with redemptive qualities that the poor story's eyes began to tear up and flow over, and it nearly emptied itself of all its contents before it ever had a chance to use them.

Drip, there went its story line. Drop, there went its lead and supporting cast. Splish, there splashed what was left of its dramatic irony (which was quite vaporous to begin with). And in less that a minute, the story was nothing more than a cob web swaying in an abandoned sanitarium. Finally, it lost its grip on the lamppost, and began to flutter towards the gutter, hopefully to be swept to the center of the earth, where maybe a demon would torture some substance back into it.

But just then, as it went the way of all things dropped, some beneficent force took mercy on the poor lost story, and sent the gentlest wind imaginable to brush it into the ear of the slumbering Odysseus Casper.

Past wax and hair and tiny bone the next to nothing story was blown, until it landed on the frontal lobe of Odysseus' brain. And when the story touched the blood-rich gish of Odysseus' greymatter, it was filled up with about a gigawatt of electricity, and it immediately turned into something not only worthy of being told, but filled with enough power to operate Odysseus' body like a fat man with a television set and a remote control.

The story had become a human being. Well, not a really a human being, but something sort of close. The story had been transformed into a story teller.

And then and there, without a breath wasted to sigh or chuckle, it began to tell Macy Vermilion a few stories while they sat at the bus stop, which when warmed by the buns of more than one individual, suddenly seems like a great place to be.


my raison d'tre

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