Storytime with Stidmama

Chapter Forty Seven

The afternoon was pleasant and uneventful for the most part. When Nan awoke after a deep sleep, her grandfather was sitting next to her with a book propped up on pillows.

He smiled at her and she smiled back. Adam opened the book and cleared his throat, "Once upon a time," he began...

Ava poked her head around the door and interrupted, "Nan, I'll get some tea ready for you. Esmeralda said you could have a bit of toast in broth as well when you are hungry."

Adam rolled his eyes and winked, "Bet she forgets my tea, though!"

Once upon a time...

In the Long Ago, there were three types of people. There were dirt people, there were water people and there were air people.

The air people began early on to sing. They sang the days into light, and the dark through the night. They hunted far and wide, and in their travels they carried the news from place to place and the stories grew.

The water people were generous and light-hearted. They sailed from place to place, riding the waves ahead of the wind, diving deep to bring up the wealth of the waters.

The dirt people were hard-working and earnest. They shared the abundance of their gardens and created all manner of gadgets that made life easier.

When Time began, the three peoples were friends. They used their gifts together, and the world prospered.

But one day, a child was born to the dirt people who did not like to work hard, and whose ability to make and use gadgets was poor at best. The child's parents did not know how to raise up a child who woke only when the sun's light was bright and warm and easily tired of digging in the rich, fertile ground. The child did not understand the parents, and the parents were sad that their child did not appreciate and enjoy the gifts they had to share.

And one day, a child was born to the air people who did not sing, who could not remember the stories that were told through the day. The child's parents did not understand why and wracked their brains and hearts for any clue as to what they were doing wrong.

And one day, a child was born to the water people who was afraid of the waves, who couldn't tell whether the tide was rising or falling, whether the currents ran along the shore or out to sea. The child was afraid of the flapping sails on the boats and the splashing of oars, and couldn't understand why anyone would spend a lifetime in and on water.

And the three children were disappointments to their families and to themselves, and grew sullen and contrary. And the different peoples grew wary of each other, watching for differences and trying to hide their individual gifts.

No longer did the air people gaily carry messages from one place to another, telling tales and singing songs to light the day and warm the night.

No longer did the water people share their knowledge of the wind and rain, or the bounty of the catch.

No longer did the dirt people work in the fields all day and busy their hands at night, taking joy in the sheer fun of creating.

The days were dimmed and the nights were long and cold. The people grew thin and haggard, jealously guarding their gifts and refusing to share or trade with anyone else.

The winds blew cold and fitfully and the boats lay along the littered shores.

The rains refused to come, then came all at once, and the plants rotted and the animals were caught in the mud.

The sun was dim and far away, when it rose, which was less and less often, and the long shadows hid the world from the air people, who ceased to travel at all.

===Adam paused for a moment while Ava brought in tea and broth and toast on a tray for Nan, followed by Nancy with a tray of tea and pie for him. He winced as they adjusted Nan a little straighter and she turned pale... but didn't cry out. Then they were alone, enjoying their tea and conversation.===

"Grampy, is this a true story?" inquired the little girl after taking a few sips of broth.

He looked at her in astonishment, "What do you mean by -truth- exactly?"

Nan thought for a moment. She furrowed her brow and sighed. Then she took another sip of her broth before answering solemnly.

"Did these things happen just like you are saying?"

Adam smiled, but answered her seriously, "You mean are they facts? Events that happened just as recorded?"

Nan nodded.

"Probably not. But Truth is deeper than facts, Nan. You tell me -- is this story truth?"

"I don't know, Grampy. Can you tell me?"

Adam sat back and put down his fork. "Let me finish the story, Nan, and then we'll decide."

The people were miserable. They were ill-fed, cold and they were dying.

In desperation, they sought council with each other. Slowly, the survivors gathered, bringing with them what little remained to them: a few fish, a few fruit, a few small animals.

They found that, as they brought out a small amount, it would remind someone of something they had forgotten.

Slowly, the water people, the air people, the dirt people began to talk, to share, to enjoy bing in each others' company.

Slowly, the sun grew brighter, the air grew warmer.

Slowly, the children of the dirt people who didn't fit in found children of the water and air people who understood them. And the children of the air people who didn't fit in found children of the dirt and water people to play with. And the children of water people who didn't fit in found their way to the dirt and air children who played similar games.

And the parents understood.

They made arrangements to watch their children carefully for signs of what they enjoyed, and to send the children to study with the people who knew those things and could teach them how best to use their gifts.

In this way, the three peoples met and married, and their children were mixtures of all of them.

And In Time, the world prospered again, and rang with the songs and laughter of the people once more.

===Adam looked over at Nan, who had fallen asleep, a smile on her lips. He set the book aside and walked carefully into the warmth of the kitchen, where his hard-working wife and daughter, story-loving daughter and grand-daughter, and open-handed and warm-hearted doctor and daughter sat and worked together to prepare a meal for the many people toiling in the fields.