The Stolen Stories

Written by Atticus Payne – Instagram: @talesfromboredom

The storytellers, they come to me, more and more. They always come, trying to tell the stories of war. Asking to claim a feeling that was never theirs, nor their parents’, nor their parents’ parents. They come from fields that have never seen rivers of blood. Not their blood, either. Not their fight.

Welcome to my House of Time.

Built into the ancient mountains of stone and ice from which every story I give is mined. The wooden beams that raise the structure when the floods come; the edging at each corner, built as much for practicality as decoration in a time that valued both. Experiences, knowledge, traditions, and culture, through thousands of years worth of life. I am their keeper.

I wait; it is my duty. The House goes dark often, while each wave of storytellers comes and goes. Drawn first by the intricate nature-inspired motifs on the beams and roofs, then driven away when told their origin stories. Perhaps it is the history that does not appeal to them: not all of it is as rosy as most say. But there is culture, and many do not care for that, either. Not if they can’t tell the story as they see fit. Not if the story is too inconvenient.

Culture is just an embellishment through them. Reduced to pieces. 

So a hundred years ago, my doors closed. And every decade, I dare to give a new teller the chance: to learn, to grow, to appreciate the stories inside. Sometimes even more often. They could understand them, with time. With an open and eager mind.

They could. They never do.

There was that young girl that came not long ago: golden-haired and blue-eyed. But she was willing to learn. To tell a story rooted in the foundations of so many kingdoms on this earth. To tell of mines and slavery, wars and massacres. A people, rising up with their Queen, demanding for the justice of their homeland. The story that had repeated itself throughout all time. Surely…surely, it deserved to be told.

So I allowed it, spooling the narrative into her heart. Trusting her with the tale of thousands, now to be read by multitudes of others. Some who identified as such.

Most who didn’t.

It was merciless. If there had ever been a way to regret allowing the narrative of so many to be told through a person, I had found it. The other Houses mourned it. No one else seemed to care.

None who had read the story cared for its wrongs. None cared that it’d been stolen without a single thought. For the colour of each player’s skin, and the weight every death brought. The darkest mines — the massacres and slavery — all painted with a picture of a gold and white girl rising from the ashes.

She had golden hair.

Blue eyes.

Her people’s land stolen, used, and their rights clawed away.

It was all so right, and yet so wrong. The story that had been entrusted to her, she so carefully cut straight and lightened to just the right shade. All the players turned beautiful and able. And they saw nothing wrong. 

There were more like that. There were always more because I always let them in, when they begged to tell the stories. “We’ll get it right this time!” they’d cry, promising to show more, add more, make up for what they’d cut. Plunge each story into whole worlds with the right heart.

Written for everyone else.

I never asked that they be perfect. Just that they’d try to learn, a little.

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