Boy Who Found Stories
Copyright, Laura J. Silver
first day of Midsummer Celebration in the small village of Ristor,
a child was born and his mother named him Sevan. It was an unheard-of
name in that village, and the rill of gossip that bubbles under
any small community burbled often that there was a secret story
behind this name, though no one knew what it was. Whenever the
grannies asked his mother about the name, she smiled patiently
and replied only that it came with the child.
ways Sevan grew like any child in Ristor. His hair was black and
glossy as a pernath seed, and fell often into smoke gray eyes
as he clutched his mother's skirts, or toddled barefoot behind
her through the dusty marketplace. In summer his golden skin darkened
to nut brown, in winter his cheeks were burnished apples in the
cold. Though he was a cheerful child he was often found sitting
quiet and alone, as no other child was seen to do. Long before
he could speak he unnerved the village elders by appearing without
warning on the edge of the story circle, listening silently and
don't know if he even hears my stories, or the singers' songs,"
Teller Selaya, complained to his mother. "He does not laugh
at the jokes, nor cry for the tragedy. He just looks through us,
sometimes with tears, or a smile which does not seem to go with
the story. We end up playing just to him, trying to get a response."
this disturb your performance?" Marteh asked.
started at the question, her eyes clouding in thought. "Many
have said our telling seems truer, the songs more heartsure of
late. Perhaps, indeed, we have Sevan to thank. We will discuss
this. In the meantime, let him come as he will."
as he could speak, Sevan asked the names of every person and thing
he saw, and never seemed to forget the smallest one. As he got
older he would sometimes leave the children's games and running
matches, going instead to the forge or the weaver's hut, the potter's
home or the dairy house, asking for the stories of what they did
there, how they came to do it, the stories of their names, and
the lives they led. Sevan was a good listener and nothing told
to him ever burbled from the gossip rill. So, though his own name
appeared there often, it was always with affection for
no one can resist a truly good listener.
found stories in the plants, the animals, the earth and sky around
him. Some were etched in sound, others painted in sights and feelings
for which there were no words, and it required great stillness
and patience to discover them.
grasshopper he learned of spring, green on green, soft, vulnerable,
quick and light among tender and succulent stems. He learned of
summer, dry and golden, leaping and singing for company on legs
as brittle as stalks of grain.
whispered a saga of change. Blind larva wriggling free of the
dirt; caterpillar moving slowly up a twig, seeking the absolute
immobility that leads to flight. With Butterfly, Sevan tasted
in one lifetime the sweetness of earth, the shivering of leaves,
and the shimmering of air and sunlight on windborne wings.
the maple, told twin tales. The quivering leaves sang a high descant
of life brief, bright, and burnished over the deep,
ceaseless melody of trunk and root, earth and sun.
was a tale of infinite color the blues of the sky at dawn,
midday, and twilight; the greens, golds and browns of the earth;
and clear shining stones reflecting all the colors of light. There
were colors in stone that lived nowhere else. Even the blackest
of stones, the whitest of stones, had always some shading to gray
or fleck of quartz, if he looked deeply enough. From stone Sevan
learned that nothing is altogether one thing. There are no one-word
stories, no one-note songs.
to attend the story circle and to listen to the singing, and he
came, in time, to laugh at the jokes and cry for the tragedy.
When he had enough language to understand, Selaya asked what it
was that Sevan heard in the circle as a small child, and why he
never seemed to respond to the story she was telling.
I was listening to the story under your stories Mother
Selaya. It was beautiful and sad in equal measure. When you told
of the joys of princes far way, I heard the sorrow of your sacrifice
to become a Teller. When you were a grieving swan or powerful
wizard, I heard the delight your telling gives you. Only when
I had all of the story in your heart, could I hear the tales you
spin with your words."
gave him an inarticulate embrace, and a ragged "Thank you
child," for never before had anyone so truly heard a Teller's