Imagine you are a writer (I have trouble with this part too) and there’s a terrible little story rolling around your head. It has to do with something you just learned, something that reverses what you thought was true, something frightening or threatening. The reason it rolls around in your head is that you can’t seem to integrate it with the other stories that make up the story of your life.
I am exploring whether telling the story is a means of dispensing with it. Or resolving it, giving it a beginning, middle and end. Isn’t this the purpose of myths and fables and fairy tales? They usually start with a distancing tactic, something like:
“Once upon a time…”
“In a country far, far away…”
“A thousand years ago or more, when the flowers could still converse with the animals….”
The first line of a fairy tale is written to reassure the reader that nothing that will follow is remotely possible. That the distant past and the far-away setting and the improbability of the magic and cruelty that happened “in that place and at that time,” was devised to give the reader comfort. This is just a story. Fear not.
So suppose we do this with our own terrible little stories. Put them between a couple of thick and dusty covers of a book. Close the book. Don’t read them again. Or do but with the final sentence foretold, a closure built into the experience in the form of “the end.”