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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Other Tragedies. By John von Daler

                  The Storyteller was his own story, so it was not surprising that he started his first chapter with himself: The surprise visit from a lawyer. The inheritence from a forgotten uncle. The sudden rush of ideas and plans.
   
            
                 A trip around Europe, not in luxury, but on the ground, he had thought. A long walk, a never-ending story with details like specks in a kaleidoscope that never cease switching places.
                My life now is going nowhere and from that nowhere is coming back with nothing. I need a new life, one that carries significance on its back like a rucksack.               
                But how to tell her. They were to be married, not in a church, but at the townhall in Copenhagen. Legally, for a lifetime.
                The story, like some irresistible undertow after the crashing wave of history, had dragged him out into dangerous waters.
                You could come too, he had said to her days later, the money from the lawyer now safely stashed under the floorboards of his apartment. We can afford to stay away for two or three years. We might even find a place in another country where we want to live!
                She shook her head on behalf of women everywhere. I will not be dragged. This is not my wish. We were going to settle down and have kids!
                They cried and kissed goodby. Then the storyteller went on his journey for years and years. His story turned him into an old man, just as the life he avoided living would have, but now this old man carried his memories like a bag of gold, to be converted, bitten into, flashed in light, even to be stolen and hidden in the dark pockets of strangers.
                It was there at his table with the wine and the words - both things flowing freely - that he would stop in the middle of his introduction.
                Met her today, he would say, Down on the corner. She lives right up on the next street. See her often. Sometimes we even pass each other without speaking.
                Then he would let go of this detail as he had so many others and this wife-to-be-who-never-would-be shot out of the story, her significance greater in her absence than ever in her presence. Like the frame of a picture, not in it but around it, she settled for not being a part of his art, but just a border to it, the place where his images started and where they had had to stop.
                He would take a sip of his wine, the Storyteller, while building up momentum to go on with his story, to usher this preliminary character, like a watchman in Hamlet, out of the play and away from our attention. 

                She just did not have it in her to come along, he would say. We would have to save our tears for other tragedies.


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