Thursday, February 3, 2011


by E. Wong Martin

(1) There was once a story that starts with something like once upon a time.
(2) But I’ve forgotten what comes next…
(3) There are too many once upon a time’s, that’s why.
(4) Or too many princes and princesses. And knights-in-shining-armour and damsels-in-distress.
(5) One of these days, they should all meet up and drink all night until they couldn’t recall anymore who their destined partners were.
(6) There are too many storytellers, too. I am not one of them.
(7) Storytellers are liars. I am not one of them.
(8) They always have ulterior motives beyond the glorification of fiction.
(9) Or fictionalisation of glory.
(10) Storytellers don’t always tell stories about others; sometimes it's about themselves. This is not one of them.
(11) There was once an old woman who lived in a brick tower who had never heard of any of those storytellers’ stories.
(12) Well, okay, let’s say that she had been told just one single tale.

(13) This particular story tells of a young soldier who has won countless battles for his mighty king.
(14) Well, let’s say that the woman was one hundred years old. But she didn’t know it because there was no calendar in the tower, only a clock that had been ticking for a hundred years as well.
(15) Because she was very old, she couldn’t remember the exact tale. Her memory so muddled, she owned the story as about herself.
(16) One of these days, the young soldier would rescue her. But from what?
(17) The old woman thought again, she had lived a whole century just fine, so what on earth would the young soldier save her from?
(18) In the recesses of her mind, she discovered an ancient word: loneliness.
(19) One of these days, she said to herself.
(20) But the days had already turned into months. Years. Decades.
(21) She fumbled that part between her wrinkled breasts, the place that, as far as she could remember, held her heart inside. Where are you, my sweet soldier?
(22) I have been waiting too long, she cried.
(23) With what remains of her strength, she grabbed the clock off the wall and threw it out the window.
(00) The tower was too high for her to hear it break.

Artwork: "Dein Aschenes Haar Sulamit," (1981, Anselm Kiefer)

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