Storyteller's Guild | Teen Ink

Storyteller's Guild

October 29, 2015
By Ethan_Michealis BRONZE, Dunkerton, Iowa
Ethan_Michealis BRONZE, Dunkerton, Iowa
4 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
Stuff happens, always for some stupid reason or another.

“Each scar marks a story worth telling.”
*      *      *
I watch as the recruits scurry in and try finding an open folding chair in the cold concrete bunker Dee and I call home.
“Are these the only ones?” I ask my second in command.
“Yes sir,” she replies, “or at least the only ones we could find at the pickup point
*      *      *
That’s what I tell them, the young men and women eager to go out and fight for our cause. “Whaddya mean by that?” Is a question I’m often asked, and in response, I show them my scars. I shrug off the faded green jacket baring my arms and hands allowing the initiates to see what happens to people in our line of work. A missing ring finger on the left hand, pucker marks from bullet wounds on the right bicep and shoulder, and a semicircular cut around the left forearm. These scars get a few gasps and some excited whispers from the male crowd.
“You think this looks ‘cool’, maybe want a scar like one that I’ve got?” I ask them.
They shut up pretty quick after that. But I still haven’t proven my point, I take things a step further unbuttoning and folding down my shirt, exposing my torso. Several initiates look away in horror or disgust, trying to keep their lunch down while others try to politely look the other way. By now, I’ve stopped caring about the responses. I know what they see cause I see it every day, the burn marks along the right side of my stomach, the crescent moon that cups my ribcage, numerous pockmarks and blemishes dotting my body, and then I turn to show them my back with its diagonal slashes from the right shoulder to the left hip from the unforgiving blade.
“See these,” I ask them, knowing full well that they can. “Each of these marks, these scars, represent someone important to me; a friend, a loved one, an innocent casualty. These scars are my cross to carry, but I have one more to share with you.” By now, they expect the worst as I reach for the mask that I have worn for this presentation. A precious white mask decorated with a swirled pattern of red and orange paint in order to hide my face. I see many of them turn away and halfway cringe at the thought of what must be under the mask after viewing my broken body.
As the mask falls from my hand and clatters to the ground, in the silence, they look back to me and they freeze.
“What the?”
“My final lesson. Never give away your true intent.” I say the them. All fifty some odd initiates are staring at me amazed to see an unblemished face with steely blue-grey eyes watching over all of them.
“Choose your battles as you choose your stories. Each of the scars I carry hold greater stories than any flimsy paper and ink book could hope to tell. A good storyteller tells you what to expect and when to expect it, and a great storyteller shows you which path you should follow and only forces information in decisive locations. I led you down a path so you would expect a gruesome end, but I have shown you one of the greatest storytellers. A living storyteller. A living storyteller will not only lead a listener down one path, but he will convince the listener that the story is theirs to live and only disappoints when his tale is finished leaving the listener wanting more.”
After this, I slowly start to put my shirt and jacket back on, leaving the mask on the floor as the words sink in.
Crushing the mask under my foot, I rally the initiates back to reality. “No loss! No life! No story!” I shout. Others gradually join in until we are all chanting the Storyteller’s motto. “I leave the rest to you.” I silently whisper touching the crescent as I leave the conference room, “Do what you will to guide them.”

The author's comments:

The initial idea of what I hope to eventually turn into a novel. Started as a class project where we had to pick a line from a slam poem and write a story, I can only say I hope you enjoy. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

"Live for those who have entrusted their stories to you."

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