I love this story, Monsters Gold. Another of my students, Kathryn Byrd, wrote it as part of her Samhain work … enjoy!
Another boring day in the office thought Kerry as she walked towards the local village pub, her only source of de- stressing these days, I wonder if the old man they call Idris is there. He can always be found like a piece of old furniture sat by the blazing fire in the inglenook showing people tricks and telling a tale or two, perfect on a cold winter’s night like tonight.
Kerry was not disappointed. The old man as usual was sat by a roaring blaze, same tankard, same high backed chair. She smiled from the bar and he beckoned her over “sit here with me and I will teach you my magic trick” he said. Kerry laughed Idris always reminded her of a wise old wizard you find in children’s stories
“It’s the oldest magic trick,” he said. “Under three upside down cups Idris showed Kerry three objects. Under one cup was a crystal, under two was a feather and under three was a small plastic ball. Idris covered the objects and moved the cups around. “Kerry,” he said “pick the cup with the crystal.”
Kerry pointed at a cup, Iris lifted the cup up to reveal the plastic ball, “Oh,” Kerry said “I was sure it was that one.” Again Idris moved the cups and again she chose the cup covering the plastic ball. Again and again even though she was convinced she had the right cup every time. Idris laughed “See,” he explained “the plastic ball never disappears!!!”
“How do you do that?” asked Kerry in bewilderment. “A story should settle the matter” chuckled Idris “A story that will make you understand why rock and feather disappear and plastic never does”.
Idris leaned back in his chair and began. “Many centuries ago when the earth was a much better place than you and I know it to be today there lived a monster so ferocious and dangerous that all people were scared of him. The monster known as Hagest lived on a remote headland. He was talked about far and wide his ferociousness and cruelty were spun into great stories. But it was his lair that people talked of most, a huge dome cave made of an incredible glittering material the monster had created himself, which shone in the sun and was as hard as iron . Local people named the material Monster Gold. And Inside, it was said, he stored great treasures. Many a young man had set off on a quest to slay the monster and claim his treasure and his secret for creating Monster Gold, but all had failed slain before they could reach his wondrous liar.
Until one day when a small girl named Enid from the local village happened to walk on to the monsters headland. Enid was too young to understand the stories the elders told around the hearth at night and knew nothing of the tales of Hagest.
At the sight of the little girl Hagest shot out of his liar and banged his chest and let out the most blood curdling scream. Enid stood still and watched the monster approach but she did not run. In front of the little girl Hagest stopped bewildered that she had not run away and shouted “how will you deal with me little girl? “
And then to his surprise Enid shouted back “I know you”. The voice had surprising authority.
“I can go into you and feel and understand you as no other person has done before. I have no fear of life and no fear of death or of you and your front”
Her manner was so confident that the monster stood motionless. She went on “ …
You are soft but appear loud
You are strong but really meek
You are fronted but lonely
You have made a lair out of your weaknesses and I am going to teach you to live again. All your fear, ego and control you have used to make your lair. The material you have invented is from your greed and desire and you have made your monsters gold with great hatred. Because your monsters gold does not contain love it is not alive. And nor are you.”
The little girl walked towards Hagest and took his hairy hand in hers. Looking into his eyes with such conviction she continued, for you to walk forward in life with love you need to learn how to get through your monster gold. That is what we must do. The monster was overcome with great emotion from the wise words of little Enid, the tears came and he knew she was right. Hand in hand they set out to break down the lair little by little and bit by bit. The little girl explained that things made without the energy of love are not alive and they are so difficult to make disappear.
After a year they were nearly at the centre of the monsters lair and there they found the greatest treasure. The monsters beating heart. He had forgotten he had ever owned such an item and as he put it back into his body the changes came …
He smelt the salt of the sea
He heard the crashing waves and felt like a fish in the foam
He became a bird upon the wing
He felt Love
He felt ALIVE
And from that day on the monster always tried to feel his way in life with love. Well what did you think of that story said the old man bringing Kerry back into the room with a jolt. “Well that was a great story but I don’t think it answers my question “
“Why of course it does,” said Idris. “The monsters lair was made out of monsters gold – PLASTIC! Plastic is not alive Kerry it is always there and we cannot break it down like bone and feather. If you want to feel alive …
And feel in a moment the stillness of the morning air
The blade of grass blowing in the wind
The wonderfulness of breathing the air
The heat of the sun on a summer’s day
Storm clouds and the feel of rain on your face
The beauty of the stag in the greenwood
The greatest thing we can do is understand that the plastic must disappear.”
And with that, and a mischievous wink, the old man lifted up all three cups and ALL were empty!
Kathryn Byrd did the drawings for this post too, for she is an artist, too, as well as a musician as well as a storyteller who does much of her Taleweaving through her songs. You can find out more HERE.