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  • Writer's pictureHelena Smrcek

Becoming a Storyteller

I have been asked many times how I become a writer. To be honest, I’m not sure. The love for words came to me naturally, and was nurtured by my doting grandparents.

Living in their villa, adorn with a tower, life was a fairytale to me, filled with stories, endless dress up, supplied by the old wardrobes in the attic, peculiar objects worthy of a front window placement in an upscale unique store, and most importantly their garden.

Grandma and Grandpa, both widowed, married a few months after I was born. She was sixty, he ten years her senior, didn’t think that living in a same household, as an unwed couple, would be proper.

Of course I don’t remember their simple wedding ceremony; the only memory is a snapshot, Grandma in her smart grey suit, Grandpa in his Sunday best. And as she slipped his wedding band on his wrinkled finger, my fairy tale childhood began.I grew up behind a powder blue chain link fence, immersed in their unconditional love and limitless patience, protected from the harsh gray world that began at the sidewalk.

Oblivious to the perils of the subdued nation, ruled by the fist of communism, I climbed trees and indulged in freshly whipped strawberry mousse.

Stories of their childhood and days-gone-by became an inseparable part of my growing up. Summers were filled with hand-on learning, growing peas and picking currants, but as the days grew shorter, the story telling returned.

Grandpa called it the black-hour. There was nothing sinister about it. I absolutely loved it. We would sit in our living room, Grandpa in his favourite wing chair, his tom cat purring in his ear. Grandma would settle on the sofa, and I’d often snuggle against her.

The sun set, and darkening twilight filled the quiet room. Nowhere to rush, the day’s work already done, my grandparents would take turns telling stories from their childhood. There was no particular order, or theme, whatever memory came to mind, they would share, recalling their relatives, places they lived, tragedies and funny stories. They let my imagination paint a vibrant picture of their past. And as the darkness settled around us, I was magically transported to the world of simpler times.

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