Once upon a time there was a village storyteller and the village depended on her to tell a story a day. A day didn’t start right without the storyteller’s story, so when the storyteller was ill, the villagers would bring her broth and get her dressed and drag her to the town square to cough out her tale, and then throw her back into bed until the next day, hoping she wouldn’t die in the night. But today, the storyteller claimed to be done. She had no more stories left to tell. The story store was empty. She stood in the town square that morning and said, “I’m sorry. I’ve given you my all. I’ve come to the end. I always thought my store of stories would last as long as I did, but it seems I’ve outlived them. There are none left.”
The villagers were stone silent. Then one of them shouted, “A thief! There must have been a story theft!”
“Yes, a theft of the story storehouses! Where do you keep them? We’ll catch the thief and restore to you your tales.”
“You don’t understand. They aren’t anywhere. They don’t exist. They’re just gone.”
“She’s in shock,” said one of the ladies. “She doesn’t know what she’s saying. Of course they exist. We just have to find the culprit.” And from then until the end of time the villagers never stopped looking for the story thief and never stopped providing the storyteller with new and ever more exciting stories of intrigue about the story thief to tell.
Gloria Garfunkel has a Ph.D. in Psychology and Social Relations from Harvard University and was a psychotherapist for 35 years, listening to others’ stories. She is now a writer of flash fiction and memoir, telling her own tales. She has published over a hundred stories and is currently completing a memoir of her childhood with parents who were Holocaust survivors.