A Story by Korteni Free

An old man writes dreams for the world- a short story I came up with for my Shakespeare class


The old man stopped and sighed, laying aside his pen to stretch. The last words he had written glared up at him like a slighted w***e, and it made him feel diseased. Writing stories was nothing to him. The words came as easily as breathing. And as he wrote them, he owned them. He held them close to his heart like a small fluttering bird. He was desperate to keep them there, to hold them so no one else may have to see, but they were fated to be cast out into the world. His words were for the world now, and not simply his to own. His face faded into tired lines while he looked at the paper he had just filled. Flickering light from a lamp perched precariously on the corner of his cluttered old desk illuminated only half of his face, filling the wrinkles with shadow and making him look even older. Closer to his actual age than how he looked in full light. One cannot help but age well when one has an eternity to spend writing stories.

            His stretch finished, he picked up his pen again and drew out a fresh sheet of paper. He tapped the pen’s tip against it almost absentmindedly, waiting for the words to come to him. Yet no words came. It was no surprise. He had written sweet and light for so long. It was time for darkness to seep in and poison his stories. It already had, in the last parts of his latest weaving. The story had begun beautifully there, with two lovers lost in the wood, yet it had ended in sorrow. A snake had come to eat out the girl’s heart, and she was left crying and alone in the wood.

            He knew what it meant, of course. He knew what all of his words meant. Her love had left her, flown away to another. The snake, eternal symbol of deception, had clawed its way into her heart, then took it like a well-practiced thief.  She had been betrayed by her love, and he, the old man, was the orchestrator of the betrayal. It was unwillingly, of course. He hated causing people to suffer. He hated writing the things that made people toss and turn and wake up crying, but all of that was simply a part of being a dreamweaver. He stood outside the bonds of time, and wrote of things that would make all people laugh, cry, and shudder; dance, and fly, only to come crashing back to the ground.

            His next dream would be even darker. It had to be. The only way to balance the light in the world was to add darkness to it. His only choice in the matter was who the darkness would go to. He had the power to send it to someone strong enough to bear it, or someone so weak they would collapse at the first image in the dream.

            He began with a simple description of the person he was writing to, as always. A young girl, no older than the last, of brown hair, pale skin, a long nose, and clever eyes. His pen scratched away at the paper while he described the room in which the story took place. It was a broad, rich room, of marble columns and gold inlay. Tall arches on either side looked out over a land of hills and pastures, but the land was not well. Close to the hill that this room was on, the ground was rich and green, but farther off it began to turn brown and crack. The land was blighted, and crumbling. Not merely dying, but crumbling away into nothingness. Soon, the hill this room was on would overlook the edge of the world.

            In the middle of the room sat a pedestal, and on that pedestal sat an urn. It was an urn of gold, of course, for no other material would truly fit in the splendor of that room. With a few simple words, he sketched the girl into the image. Facing her towards the urn in such a way that would allow her to see the crumbling land, he called her bit by bit. Finally, she was solid, blinking away the sleep from her eyes. She looked around with her clever eyes and saw the edge of the world growing nearer. Her expression did not grow fearful or sad. It merely grew tighter with the determination of one who knew what she had to do. The old man murmured appreciatively. She was the right choice. She could take the darkness, hold it, and banish it with her own words.

            It took only a few more of his own words to finish out this short story. He wrote of an eagle, a great golden eagle, that flew down to the urn. Deftly, the eagle plucked two eyes out of the ashes that lay within and flew back to its nest. Now the girl looked shaken. The eagle had disturbed the dead and taken something whole out of something broken. Not only something whole, but something worth knowing. Eyes. Observing, seeing, knowing. The key to the girl’s knowledge had just been taken out of that urn and away from the crumbling edge of the world. Her brow wrinkled for just a moment, confusion clouding her face, before she vanished and the room, the tomb of the last pillar of the world, faded.

            The old man stopped scratching away at the paper and sighed, laying aside his pen to stretch once more. Each new story he wrote pulled at him a little more. Each bit of darkness he added to someone’s life added a bit more to his own. And he was old, so very old. The lamplight flickered on his face again, dipping half of it into shadow while painting the other half with graceful spiderweb cracks. His head nodded down over the still-wet ink of the story he had just penned. Perhaps he could sleep for a while. Deep, dreamless sleep. After all, there was no one to write dreams for the dreamweaver. He knew he should not sleep. He who does not dream, does not exist, and there must always be a dreamweaver in the world.

            But he was so very tired…


© 2011 Korteni Free

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Added on March 29, 2011
Last Updated on March 29, 2011


Korteni Free
Korteni Free

Ann Arbor, MI

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