I am a storyteller. The little old witch in the woods. I believe in the warmth of wood and green growing things. I find the threads of my stories in the restless spots of sunlight that fill my front yard and the grit of baked earth beneath my bare feet. I light candles at the new moon and dance beneath the stars. I honor my solitude but do not pretend that I am not sometimes lonely. I sip my tea and listen to the distant waves, the song of sirens blown my way by an errant wind.
I am addicted to the breeze and birdsong that fill my home – more windows than walls at this point. There are so many doors in my house, more than should fit into such a small cottage. Each one leading to a different place, a different time, a different tale. I can find the fairy tales by the soft, pale beech wood. Their doors arch up and up, slender and elegant. They forever feel sun drenched. The darker tales of mystery and madness are much more luxurious than their sisters. They are beautiful, and haughty and never what they seem. Bone and wood, leather and stone they intrigue the eye and ensnare the touch. They are dangerous in their temptation.
Like my doors, some days I am beautiful, and some days I am not. It depends on the story I tell myself. Perhaps this explains why those in the village speak of me so oddly. Reverent and dismissive, fearful and longing. They come to me needing stories of monsters and morality for their children, stories of hope and bygone grandeur for their aging. For themselves, they come hungry for adventure, for excitement. But the most popular stories, the ones I have told time and again, are tales of love. The young couples arrive hand-in-hand, seeking a door as bright as their love for one another. These tend to be my repeat customers though I never see the same pairing twice. Then there are those who come with soft eyes and gentle hearts. These are drawn to the oak doors with their subtle spirals and gently furling buds. To these I add a sprig of lavender, and I never see them again. I used to blush at the grannies who came, eying the plush velvet and unblemished silk doors tucked discreetly away, but now I simply smile and slip them their story of thudding hearts and throbbing elses. I am far more leery of the jet black door with its ragged grooves and darker stains. Thankfully, not many find their way to me seeking its contents. But after every visit, I shutter my windows and light every candle. I hum the old songs of cleansing and soak deep into the recesses of my warm tub until I feel myself vanish. I do not receive visitors the following morning, but instead, take myself into the heart of my mountains and listen in wonder at the world.
My favorite stories are the ones of magic. These are the ones I hold most dear and I set them where I feel them every day. The cool opalescent scales of the mermaids guard my private spaces, while the soft feathers of myth watch me while I sleep. The starry sandalwood screen passed down from the witch before me greets me at my front door and I carry its fragrance with me in the folds of my skirt and the curls of my hair. I keep the diminuitive elm door just inside the outer gate and I make sure to leave a thimble of milk beside it each evening. The herbs beside that door are always especially hearty.
I am a storyteller. The little old witch in the woods. I have wandered through many doors and many lives.
Which of my doors will open for you?