Today is the first of November. Today is the day of the dead. The day of the dead is a good day for telling stories.
Yesterday I completed the #inktober challenge. Every day, I drew and inked a panel. I wrote 31 words in September to serve as prompts and every day I chose a random one for that day’s drawing. I wove them all into a story. Sometimes an odd turn, but a complete story. A finished story.
Today is also a day of memory.
I remember that I have almost never finished a story. I remember my mother’s admonitions when I would start creative projects, “Finish one story, before you start the next one!” and “Don’t start projects you don’t intend to finish.” Memory is a fickle thing, and those were certainly not her words. We speak Slovenian, after all.
I remember that I finished one story in the end. Perhaps there were others. But how would I know? Memory is a fickle thing, and I was five.
It was a comic of the adventures of three canines Snoopy, Rok and Gergi. I invented Rok and Gergi, but you know Snoopy. I knew nothing of Peanuts. All I knew of Snoopy was that he was a dog and that he was amazing, because he even lived on my 14-year-old sister’s favorite tracksuit. I skipped Woodstock. After all, why would Snoopy be friends with a small yellow bird?
The year was 1985, it was summer, it rained a lot, we were at the seaside, the isle of Pag, and I spent my second beach vacation in the camper creating an original comic about Snoopy. For two weeks straight I was obsessed with drawing and writing a comic. And I finished it.
That’s the last story I remember finishing. Until yesterday.
The answer is also a story. It is a very common story. The kind of family story that is always interesting to humans. A story with characters like Father and Mother, Brother and Sister, and I. A living story you may recognize.
Father went snorkeling that summer of 1985. From the water he proudly brought trophies. Starfish. Sea urchins. He brought them from sea and gave them to me. I was aghast. I wanted nothing to do with taxidermied echinoderms.
“Put them back in the water! They will die!”
Father returned them to the sea.
I finished my first story that summer holiday, while the rain drummed on the roof of our camper. Mother praised it. Sister praised it. Brother was not there. Father went fishing.
It is primary school. I draw. I write unfinished tales. “So creative,” say teachers. Mother is proud. Father goes hunting.
It is high school. I sketch. I write poems. “So talented,” say teachers. Mother is proud. Father runs a company.
It is university. I doodle. I write vignettes. “Such potential,” say professors. Mother is proud. Father runs the largest fly-fishing association in Slovenia.
It is 2010. I draw a stylized marble trout for T-shirts for the fly-fishing association. “It’s fantastic! Look at this fish! My son drew this!” Father finally tells everyone.
I invented that last story, but it is also true.
Yesterday I finished my second story. The tale of Peon and Sheep. “It is a good story,” I tell you.
“I disagree! It’s a silly story! A strange story! A made-up story!” a You says.
“Yes,” I smile. And I create more stories.
Today is the first of November. Today is the day of the living.