1. Telling Stories
The lines on your face and memories
Write it down, but it doesn't mean
You're not just telling stories"
("Telling Stories", Tracy Chapman)
Where to begin? I look at my hands, at the space between the fingers, and wonder. For in that space, in that small space, lies the tale. Yet it is not merely my tale. It began long before me, so long ago that I cannot measure the years. My part in the full story is but little, and late. Yet it is my part that will be remembered, should I commit the words to paper.
It is that notion, the committing of the words to paper, which both awes and frightens me. For words, as I have seen, can change the way that people look at things. Can I do justice to my companions. Can I do justice to myself? Already the temptation is strong, strong enough to burn; that temptation to make myself the hero, to make my own tale so very similar to the stories of the great heroes of the past, those figures who never seemed to know fear or doubt. It is so very tempting to become like them, if only in my own words. So very tempting.
Already I hear the tales that fly around the city; tales that tell of princes of the halflings, tales that tell of two half-bird, half-hobbit creatures who flew over the volcano and dropped the ring into it. Already, my own truth is becoming irrelevant. My journey is becoming legend, with all the hallmarks of legend. My companions are becoming legends as well, which suits some of them less than others. I could tell the tale of a legendary group, a Fellowship of great wonder, of wondrous characters out of the pages of history who stepped forward with pride and certainty to do what was needed. But would that be my tale, or would it just be another story?
I don't recall the certainty. I do recall the doubts. I don't recall the ease of the journey. I do recall the fear, the discomfort, the near-death of Caradhras, of Moria. I recall the terrible sensation of the Eye upon me, whenever I donned the Ring, through either fear or folly. I recall the terror of realising that the Ring was gone, in that terrible moment at the borders of Mordor. I recall my own arrogance in claiming the Ring. I recall the fear I felt, when I realised that Boromir had been taken by the power of the Ring. I remember my grief when I realised that I would have to leave them all.
Then there are the parts of the tale that I wasn't there for. Meriadoc and Peregrine have grown, not just in size, but inside. They are both different to the two hobbits who left the Shire with me, on that long ago morning in September. They have been changed by their experiences, experiences that I haven't fully shared. Sam changed as well, although I am too close to have seen this. But I see it in the faces of Merry and Pippin, when they talk to him, and listen to him as well. The changes worked on all of us by our journey are profound in some instances: my lost finger, the extra inches that Merry and Pippin bear; Aragorn becoming the King; Gandalf going through death and out the other side; even the friendship between Gimli and Legolas. Others are subtle - the way that Merry and Pippin both appear to think more of duty than of pleasure; the way that Sam appears to be more confident; Gandalf laughing more. All these changes, which appeared in the space between the breaking of the Fellowship and the eventual reunion.
Could I speak all that needs to be spoken? Could I say all that needs to be said? Somehow, I believe not. I could not put that into words, for words, though they are my friends, are not my playthings. That I will leave for others. If I can write enough of the facts down, maybe the rest of the truth will survive, in the spaces between what I can say, and what I cannot say, and the things I could not express because I do not have the words. I will not tell a story, but rather a history. I may wind up giving the world another legend. Maybe that is what is needed. But my tale will be there, in the space between the truth and the legend.