Dark Stories

I was playing catch with my son yesterday – a sentence I doubted I would ever have the privilege to write five years ago – when he asked me why I don’t like dark movies any more. “You used to think China Town was the best movie ever made. Now you say you can’t watch Sopranos or Goodfellas. What’s happened to you? You’re losing your edge.” It was a good question, and one I hadn’t thought sufficiently about to be able to construct an answer before his attention strayed. Yet I continued to turn the question over as we finished our game of catch and went inside and did a little math work. Then we were on to separate things, and I stopped thinking about him, until my wife poked her head into my office. “Where’s Sawyer?”

“Oh, Jesus,” I said. “Has he gone on another walkabout?” Our homeschooled son has grown restless of late, and will occasionally disappear without a word. All for the good, really, except his solo adventures are not like those of typical teenagers, and his parents are left to wonder if he will ever return. He did on this occasion, bursting through the back door, announcing, “I’m back!”

So he was. It was then I remembered his question, and I thought, “The only thing I want to share with the world, the only thing I want to write about, talk about, and teach, is that everything is okay even though it appears as though everything is most definitely not okay.” I have to learn this every day, and I do not find what we call dark stories, stories about how everything is not okay but somehow we will struggle through it, useful in this regard. I say this as someone who spent many, many, many years telling that very story over and over again.

I only want to see past the darkness now, particularly as I sit on my couch and wonder if that boy will ever walk through the door again. In such moments, my storyteller’s imagination is tempted to see a future not just without my son, but without happiness itself. There is no darker story a mind can tell. What if all the light left the world: what and how would we see? Such a world seems impossible to live in – which, fortunately, it always is.


Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion.

"A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

You can find Bill at: williamkenower.com

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