This may or may not be a story of fiction, revealed in….chapters…
Chapter One: “A Parchment is born”.
Many centuries ago, in a place of your own choosing, there lived a man.
One day, he just arrived in the village from places unknown. He made his home in an abandoned hovel, where sometimes on a dark and stormy night, some animals and birds would find temporary but damp shelter.
To the people of his village, he was known as Circum. This was for his habit made of rough sack cloth – for it was all he could afford – and for his penchant to walk around in circles, muttering something to himself.
The villagers knew him to be a man of some knowledge, although no-one was quite sure what it was. Circum was often approached by those who needed a message written to either their far flung friends and family, or to someone in Great Authority.
As the villager would babble his or her oft garbled message, Circum would dip his bedraggled quill into a pot of thick black liquid, known as “ink” and on a crumpled piece of old parchment, would form mysterious unknown symbols. He told the villagers that these symbols were called “Writing”.
None dare ask whether this writing would be understood by the intended recipient. None the less, the villagers gladly paid for this service in copper coins or with either a chicken or some eggs – depending on which came first.
If a villager was poor and needed to tell the Great Authority that he could not pay his taxes, let alone Circum, a special piece of parchment was produced. Upon it was written: “P ay in A Y ear or P ay for A L ifetime”. The villager, much to his credit, would make a mark or a splodge of ink with the imprint of his thumb on it, at the bottom of the parchment.
Circum had made many such parchments, but the villagers rarely understood what their obligations were. Or perhaps they did – and just laughed to themselves and ignored their promises. Now and then, a villager would disappear in the middle of the night, never to be seen again. In hushed whispers, it was said that the Great Authority had claimed him…. When the villagers had tried to return these parchments without the accompanying coins or chickens or eggs, Circum rolled the now worthless parchments into a ball and hurled them in anger at the floor. They bounced.
Whatever miserably paltry amounts of coin or chickens or eggs Circum did manage to collect, would be traded for more parchments, ink powder and chicken feed. He always remained in a state constantly bordering on starvation. Yet, to the amazement of all, he kept up his strange daily ritual of “Writing”.
There were times when Circum would simply sit silently in his unheated and draughty hovel and “write”. Sometimes he would throw the quill and ink pot against the wall. At other times, he would simply tear at his hair or tear at his beard or angrily tear up the now ruined piece of parchment.
At other times, the villagers would suddenly hear him make a joyous shout.
Peering into his dimly lit hovel, they would see him “writing” furiously. As the more brave and curious looked over his shoulder, they could discern that the series of symbols on each parchment looked very similar.
In either a trance or state of enlightened ecstasy, Circum kept writing the same series of symbols on as many pieces of parchment as he could lay his hands on. After, he would stop, fingers stained with ink and cramped with the efforts of sustained “writing”. Curious villagers would ask what it was that he was so earnestly engaged in. The answer was always the same:
“I’m copy writing! I will send my parchments to the furthest corners of our land and even beyond!” Bewildered peasants would stare at him in open-mouthed awe and even admiration. Yet, they would gladly take the bundles of parchments with them, whenever they would wander far afield.
“Go forth!” he would say to them “and nail one parchment to the main post within the Market Square of each village that you pass through. There may be someone who can and will read what I have written!” So, without even realising it, Circum had invented “post men” and “post-it-parchments”.
Whether any of these parchments ever reached their intended destinations remained unknown to him. Circum would wait expectantly outside his hovel every day, hoping for someone to bring him even one single parchment in return. There was a deep depression around the hovel, caused by his daily and nightly circuitous walking and waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And waiting….
This story could be entirely fictional, a fairytale – or even partly born of personal experience. Gentle reader, I will let you be the judge. So far, three chapters have been written, and the story may yet be completed, the Muse willing and if the creeks don’t rise….