The day I write this, I saw an old witch on the side of the road. Or maybe she was a fairy godmother. Her blue cloak billowed; her wispy grey hair peeped and whipped out the edges of her hood. As we actually drove past, I realized, with a much bigger jolt than when I thought she was an enchantress, that she was just an old lady in a blue snow coat that reached her feet. She probably didn’t have the singing voice of Bernadette Peters, and I’m probably not a princess who will go to a ball or meet a Beast (no matter I sing through my chores). As the start of an urban fantasy, the incident is cliché.
But it happened. It’s true. For a few seconds, she stepped right out of fairytale woods, that old lady squinting in the wind and waiting at the crossroads for the light to change. I think I still believe it, which must help in writing my own fairytales. Who wants to read a story of magic if the author scorns the old tales?
My family is a story. We’re more than funny incidents and “Do you remember how Grandma Leonardi made her ravioli dough?” What do I make of my great-grandmother asking for her long-missing brother on her deathbed? We had a family fortune four generations back, but little Elizabeth’s death of scarlet fever drove her father to drink it all away. These stories shaped us.
I used to dislike parodies of my favorite stories, but now I often take pleasure in them. I am learning to laugh at, not just moon over, the things I love, which is a way of laughing at myself. Stories are told to be retold; there’s no shame in that. In fact, there is dignity in adding your own storytelling to the pack.
There are things I almost remember. My stories are dreams I can’t get out of my head. I only have this one life and it’s all I’ve ever had, but greater things are coming. Foreshadowing? But Bayard in another story taught me that to chase a prophecy or to avoid it is to defeat its purpose; “live the life that unfolds before you” and remember.
In the end, I trust my Doctor: “When you wake… you won't even remember me. Well. You'll remember me a little. I'll be a story in your head. That's okay. We're all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh? 'Cause it was, you know. It was the best.”