The Storyteller’s tapestry hangs the darkest corner of his study. Each day, at exactly 8:52 in the morning, the storyteller enters his study, and places his coffee on the rickety table that sits next to his favorite chair. For eight minutes, he sits in his chair and stares at his tapestry. At exactly 9, he stands from his chair, and turns to his desk, pristine, precise, and pure. He lays his journal in the center of the desk, takes out a pen, and writes what he sees.
What stories he creates. Stories of heroes and heroines, monsters and magicians, lads and lasses, life and death, and of course, a few men just like himself.
All of these stories come from his eight minutes of inspection.
By this point, he knows the tapestry. He has looked at this tapestry every morning for eight minutes for his entire life. The tapestry hasn’t changed, except for the few fringes at the edges that indicate the passage of time, fading slowly into the darkness of the room.
Oh he knows the tapestry well.
And that is perhaps what made the first Tuesday of August so memorable.
On this particular morning, the storyteller woke and brewed his coffee. A sip of his life-giving liquid warmed his heart and prepared him for his journey. A quick glance at the clock told him that he still had three minutes to reach the door of his study, ample time his body to accomplish its only task of the day. Slowly, he made his way up the stairs, clutching his lower back as it creaked and cracked like the stairs beneath him. The storyteller was not a young man anymore, and the climb to his study seemed more taxing every day. His breathing quickened, pulse raced, but finally, he reached the summit. Turning to the left, he reached for the door of his study. For 52 years, he had reached his hand out in the exact same way. His last step landed his left hand 19 inches from the doorknob, easily within reach of his lanky, gaunt frame. This morning he reached out and felt only air.
Startled, the man’s head whirled to look at his left hand. A quick glance at his wrist showed him that it was currently 8:52, but the doorknob wasn’t in his hand. Slowly, he turned to face an open door. Small but steady alarms began to sound in his head, for each day, at exactly 4:57, he rose from his desk, and sauntered out of his door, arriving in his foyer precisely at 5. Each day, he ensured the door closed behind him, the cool touch of brass reminded him to keep his work and his life separate. He knew the door was closed yesterday. He was sure of it.
Or maybe it wasn’t. Maybe he was losing it. It had been a particularly long week. His mind was beginning to flutter about, the laser focus that had defined him for so many years was finally beginning to waver.
Slowly, he walked into the room.
His watched turned to 8:53.
The moment he entered his study, his eyes immediately flittered to the tapestry. Though it hung in the darkest corner of his study, he could see it immediately. Scarcely able to believe his eyes, his shuffled towards the tapestry and stood silently in front of it, the tapestry fluttering in breezy breath.
There- the stitch– 1741ST from the top and 689 from the left-was sticking ever so slightly out of the tapestry.
The man recoiled from the tapestry, pulse quickening, pressures rising, eyes dilating, looking to the source of this travesty. He took several long breaths in an attempt to center himself, and collapsed in his favorite chair. How could this have happened? He lived by himself, on purpose, of course, and his landlord employed an impressive line of doormen trained to subdue any intruder by whatever means necessary. Yet, clearly, the impossible had happened.
The storyteller took another long look at the tapestry. The stitch that had fallen out was in a very particular spot-right in the center of one of the two majestic eyes that called the tapestry their home. For the past 52 years, the storyteller had been looking into those eyes. For the past 32 years, he had been taking the stories he saw in those eyes and woven them into stories.
For the past 52 years, he had been making those stories in those eyes come alive.
For the past 52 years, the tapestry has made him come alive.
But now, this morning, he started to feel a small piece of that life leave.
A quick glance at his watch showed him that it was now 9:00. Ready or not, it was time to work.
He sat at his desk, pulled on his pen, and willed his journal to become the genesis of new worlds. This morning, however, was different. Rather than the words that would normally spill out of his consciousness, he could only trace two words, over and over: “It’s Time.” Hours passed, his hands pressing further and further into the page until the words were scratching the immaculate desk underneath. Finally, with the last ounce of strength in his arm, he pushed himself up from the desk. He had to hold his shaking hand in order to read his watch face. It was 4:57. Oddly enough, this made his hand stop trembling.
He picked up his now cold cup of coffee and turned to the tapestry. With a heavy sigh, he placed his left hand on the cloth, and slowly traced his memories- the streaks of yellow that inspired the stories of heroines, the greens that created monsters, the reds that forged lads, the whites that formed life, and the black that spawned death. The memories rushed over him, filling his heart with the same warmth that the coffee gave him earlier. With a pause, he hovered over the stitch. 1741 from the top, 689 from the left. He grasped the stitch with his aching fingers. It was so soft, the stitch, a softness that was only intensified by the knowledge that it was exactly where it was supposed to be.
In a well-made tapestry, each stitch perfectly blended with the next. On close inspection, each stitch has no idea what it’s purpose is, running along a track that it will never understand. Yet, to take a step back, the stiches create a beauty and understand that caused tears to well in his eyes. Blinking the water away, he took a deep breath. His watch clicked to the hour. 5 o clock had come.
He closed his eyes, and pulled the stitch. The last thing he heard was a coffee mug crashing into the floor, liberated from its last living connection to the earth.
With a start, he opened his eyes. It was dark in the room. Yet, with eyes wide open, he could see a man he didn’t recognize enter the room slowly. He was a young man, not older than 25. The young man sat in a brand new chair, holding a cup of tea. He stared directly into the eyes of the old man.
The young man announced, with words that sounded like honey to the old man, “Today I become a storyteller.” He sat and stared at the old man for a few minutes, and then opened his journal and began to write, hand flowing across the page.
The old man smiled, a single blue thread descending from his wide open eye.