She felt that she had never set the world on fire; unlike the politicians who had managed just that. No, what she had achieved, what Sara had achieved, was to light little fires in the eyes and souls of the people she would meet.
The world had gone from blues and greens and whites and yellows, to the darkest black. Darker than the hearts of those men (and they were men) who had started the conflicts. Over what? Over what men had been fighting about for several thousand centuries; ‘what I have is greater and bigger than yours’.
After the dark, which had lasted a very long time, a sort of dawn had emerged, a beginning to the healing. One in which the world and nature were starting to soothe the planet and make it inhabitable again.
Water began to run in the streams, and rain, a blackish, sooty rain had found itself falling on long forgotten fields.
Those who had been born in the dark times had lost the art of building so most took to shelters where they were found. There were fights and wars over the possession of such treasures. Many had taken to using old railway tunnels or under bridges. Defenses would be set at either end of the tunnels and families, perhaps several hundred, would live within that camp. In some sad ways, the Iron Age had returned.
Sara had never known her parents, she had been found crying beside an old dried up river bed which had once been known, before the dark times, as the Thames.
The man who picked her from the ground that day had a family of his own; his folks were the new troubadours – once known as circus people, they now traveled from one settlement to another, performing for food and water and anything else they could get.
Sara grew up in this environment, a gypsy life that suited her well. No one knew of the type of people she had come from, and after a while, she found it didn’t really matter to her.
She was happy – whatever happiness was in those days of rebuilding. I suppose if we were being honest, happiness is relative to what you are experiencing. Perhaps the happiest man in the world in those days, would have been called a sad man a thousand years before. But for the times she lived in, Sara was happy enough.
She never found a partner on account of the fact that she moved around the country so much. She never had children – but this was a choice – she didn’t want to bring new life into these difficult times.
So one day – and for whatever reason only known to her – when her family were sleeping, she awoke early and left the tunnel they were living, and entertaining, in – and without looking back, she walked away.
She never saw any of them again – despite all the traveling she did. She didn’t go looking for them, but she thought it might be nice to see an old face, once in a while.
Sara found she had a gift for stories and storytelling. Although each settlement tended to have one or two of their own, the chances were that they told the same story again and again. Sara’s gift was that she could write whatever the universe threw at her.
Some stories she had in her head were standard, and she would change the names in the tales to several people’s names who lived in the tunnels which she was visiting. Yet most of her stories were made up on the spot and although many were lost in time, some were remembered by a tribe’s member and re-told long after Sara had left the area. They changed in the re-telling but basically they were Sara’s stories.
The folks in the railway tunnels had started to farm in its most basic sense – in the dirt on each side of their settlements, areas that had once supported the railway lines. After a few difficult months of growing and harvesting, people like Sara were a warm, welcome sight to those who lived in the tunnels.
Nothing had survived from the old days, those wondrous lost days of everlasting summers: no Shakespeare, no Einstein, no Van Gogh, no Turner, no Twain, and no Dickens. Nothing. Whatever Sara was creating in her head was based on what she had seen and heard in her short life – and whatever the universe was whispering in her ear.
But there was no one who could compete or create as much as she did. In between Sara’s visits people would be entertained by clowns, or magicians, or souls who had started to make tunes using wood and stone.
Nothing or no one ever came close to Sara – she was the Hollywood of those new days. Her stories traveled far and wide – it is said that some of her stories traveled around the world several times, changing only in details and language.
There is a statue to Sara which stands in the central square of New London – its inscription is simple:
‘The Woman Who Told Stories’.
She is still missed.
bobby stevenson 2017