Stories Shared: A Recent Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, there was a small girl who grew up in a small town, and she believed in magic.

Of course, plenty of children believe in magic, and this girl was in some ways very much like those children. While growing up she had been enchanted by stories about unusual creatures, impossible events, and strange worlds very unlike her own. People often told her that she was very smart, but she knew she was also very shy (as well as a bit over-sensitive) and despite going to school and having a kind family who loved her very dearly, she often felt very lonely. When she felt this way, she would imagine herself escaping to these different worlds, meeting their people, taming their animals, and learning their ways. In time, she began to dream up worlds of her own, and imagined sharing them with others the way that the worlds in stories had first been shared with her.

As the girl grew older, however, things began to change. She still loved magic, and she still imagined herself escaping into other worlds. But she also learned more about her first world, the world she was born to and destined for. It was very large, larger than she had expected. And for all its beauty, it could also be very unpleasant, very painful, and sometimes even very dangerous. The older the girl became, and the more she learned about the world, the smaller and more frightened she felt. By the time she had finished her last years of school—where she, of course, studied more stories—the girl had become very fearful, indeed.

She completed her education, moved away from her family and friends, and started working in a far away city, hoping that a new place and different people might help her get over her fears. Instead, her old fears simply changed into new ones. Still, she did her best to get by, cherishing the moments when her wonder at the world around her (or at the worlds she escaped into) was strong enough to overwhelm her fear.

And then one day, while sitting quietly on the bus on her way home from work, scrolling away on her phone, she found a link directing her to Ackerly Green’s Guide to MAGIQ. Following its trail, she discovered a camp full of others like her, seekers of truth and wonder and magic, and the place their search had lead them: the Book of Briars.

With these friends beside her, and the mysterious, locked, scorched Book before her, she stepped into a world like those she had always escaped to as a child—except that none of them had felt quite as real as this. She studied a set of constellations she’d never known existed; she discovered records of travellers from other worlds, artifacts that opened magical doorways, and a Storm with dangerous powers. She helped unravel mystical rhymes, cryptic cyphers, and the complexities of temporal papercrafting. She performed magic, on purpose, using tea and stories and candles (and generally felt terribly, terribly ill afterwards). She made friends. She even witnessed the Day of Change, when a terrible weapon was destroyed, a new hero was named, and that strange, special Book at the center of it all was brought forward through time.

And finally, as one story drew to a close, and a new story seemed just about to begin, something still wasn’t quite right. The Book was lost, she was told. Lost, and confused, and perhaps even afraid. And she knew what it was like to be afraid.

So she sat down to give the Book what had helped her so often, when she was afraid and overwhelmed and not sure what to do: she wrote the Book a story.

She told the Book how she had felt lost, and confused, and very, very afraid. She told it how it had found her, and so many others. She told it how it had turned her confusion into wonder with every new Fragment it revealed. And she told it how, because of this strange, special Book, she had started to feel like she could still live, and laugh, and shed light on dark places, even when she was afraid.

She set it with the others, the stories and songs and pictures of hope like hers, each special and filled with a magic all its own, and she waited.