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  • At The Tip of The Quill

A Jar of Paint and Butterflies

It was a bump in the dark at 2 am which woke me, yet rather than respond with fear, my mind tugged me awake near bursting with excitement. What, pray-tell, was so exciting about 2 am? I've only been asleep (perchance, to dream) perhaps 90 minutes, tops. Plus, the Small Human will awaken promptly in 4.25 hours. This is not the time to be awake.

It was the motion of butterflies which caught my attention. They were small, like the glowbugs of my youth. Little joybugs, I called them. Despite the absence of scientific understanding of how these things work, my little mind came up with a perfectly logical reason as to why glowbugs glowed: they were happy and made me happy, so clearly they were fueled by joy.


They flitted around the room, illumined only by the pale moonlight which filtered through what remained of the storm's clouds. What was that on their wings? It was obvious I was not going to fall back to sleep, so I crept out of bed and followed their flight around the room. I could hear the rustle of their wings whisper in the not-quite-dark, "This way... This way....!"


I had no choice. I was compelled to follow. So follow I did. This way and that, down the hallway, around the winding stair, though the silk curtains and out into the starry sea. It was there I saw the thing which had caused me to wake: A jar of living paint.


There was something peculiar about the spilled paint, even more so than the butterflies. And I don't mean its size. The paint itself seemed.... ethereal. I could see it, there, on the ground. I could smell it, quite freshly mixed. And yet - And yet... it also seemed I could -feel- it.


I had to touch the paint as much as I needed air to breath. Before I could second guess myself, I took a step forward and plunged both hands into the goop. There was a tingling sensation as a rush of memories and images, words and stories tumbled through my mind. In that moment I saw all the stories I had ever told and all the stories I will ever tell, all at once. As the life of the paint seemed to seep into my very veins, I felt past and present merge in a tsunami of creation and desire and in that instant I knew I could never go back.


Despite decades of claiming otherwise, I AM a storyteller. I've been one since I was a child. No hobby has made me quite as happy as when I create a story-yet-untold. Four years ago I wondered how I would be able to come up with a new story every night for the small human. I was afraid she'd get bored. I thought I'd have to buy 10,000 books to ensure I knew enough of other people's stories to satisfy her desire for yet another new-to-her tale. Yet .. here we are. An as-yet unbroken streak of wonder and imagination. I aim to keep it that way. My gift, to my children.


I thought in four years I'd run out of stories to tell. Instead, I find their creation feeds on itself, like the swirling paint I now find at my feet. They aren't always good. They aren't always worth keeping, but they always make her smile. Sometimes, they even make her laugh a laugh like mine when I was her age: The laugh of delight when one discovers a joybug.


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