Columbine’s Tale: An Excerpt

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Book excerpt – pp. 39-40

This excerpt really sums up what the second book is about, which is that Mina gradually uncovers her gifts and abilities as a story teller, and learns that these are how she will be able to restore a great damage that has been done.


Sofia nodded to Mina, who began again, this time using a different beginning to signal a different type of story, of a real life lived.
‘In a time not far gone, in a place like this one…’ she began, and proceeded to tell the tale of a man who lost his wife to a terrible fire. But at the end, when the wife burned to death, she could not finish, her voice stumbling into silence. Sofia decided it was time for instruction to begin.
‘Well done Mina. But a tale is a gift. Your audience needs something, a little jewel to take home with them. You cannot leave them with only pain. You must find the nugget of hope in every story. It is your story, so you can change it.’
Mina shook her head slowly, a weight in her heart.
‘It’s not my story,’ she admitted. ‘I was telling the tale of my uncle. And it didn’t end with hope, or happiness, or any gift. It ended with so much pain my uncle lost his mind.’
‘You’ve already mastered the skill of turning the happenings of a life into a tale,’ Sofia replied. ‘But even ordinary story tellers, those without your gifts for creation, do not tell mere memories. They craft them, finding the meaning and shape within them. A life lived is a story, and the greatest gift of story tellers is to find the heart of that tale.’
Mina shook her head, mute. She remembered her uncle’s stuttering, nonsensical speech, his lost, aimless existence, the scorn of the villagers for his madness. How could she shape that into anything other than what she had seen her whole life, a life damaged and tainted beyond repair?
Sofia looked at the younger woman searchingly, but Mina did not speak again.
‘Perhaps with time you will find meaning in your uncle’s story. Sometimes a story needs to be placed deep in your heart, until it can find its form. You can always return to it later.’

Columbine’s Tale, Rachel Nightingale (text), Odyssey Books, September 2018.


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One thought on “Columbine’s Tale: An Excerpt

  1. Norah says:

    What a beautiful extract about storytelling. It is so true that we have to find the heart of the story so that we ensure it is felt, and treasured, in other hearts. I think this must be a very special story.

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