A TALL STORY
Esmeralda’s third eye glared unseeing, yet unerringly at every student. The dark tattoo inked upon her forehead was intricate and glaring – a mark of wisdom and mastery of magic. A sign that this middle-aged woman who gave us our history lessons, should be respected. She was reciting the story of Anders and the Giant to the class, and I was happy to sit quietly in the corner and listen.
“What, is the moral of this tale?” Esmeralda asked, her eyes gliding over us when she finished the story.
“The bigger they are, the harder they fall!” Becker called, and an agreeing murmur followed his answer.
As the tale is told, Anders was a youth who found himself lost in the mountains, a shepherd boy looking for his lost goats. Why he was stupid enough to venture in to the realm of the Giants was beyond me, but I supposed it all added to the flavour of the story. He was attacked by a monstrous Giant and the short end of it was: Anders, armed with a sling, took a stone and flung it at the beast. Hit upon the temple, the beast was felled and Anders became a hero. Of course, the goats were never seen again, probably gobbled up before the fight ensued.
“Bravery comes in all shapes and sizes,” Lucinda added. Esmeralda’s dark eyes sparkled with amusement as she nodded.
“Yes, yes,” she said, entwining her fingers. Her midnight blue robe scraped the flagstones as she turned. “All good answers… However, would they be the same if I told you the true story of Anders, and not this embellished tale of daring and hope? The true story, I’m sorry to say, was that Anders entered the mountains looking for his goats, and came across a sleeping Giant. He thought it a good idea to take a token from the creature – a lock of hair – and bring it back to his village to show the men that he was as brave as any warrior… What if I told you that the beast woke and Anders attempted to end it, with a sling and rock, but it did not work?” She paused, taking in the stunned silence.
“Fables, such as this, do stem from a certain truth, but for our own gain and glory, we embellish them. A Giant’s head is harder than granite and a little stone, slung from a sling,” she laughed, “would do little, perhaps no damage at all. Poor Anders didn’t stand a chance – the Giant crushed him with his bare hand. A rather awful end, I should think… So, in knowing the truth, would your answers change?” Her smile was edged with malicious glee, or at least I thought so. “Tell me class, what would the moral of the story be now?”
Her tattooed eye creased as her brows rose in expectation of an answer.
I lifted my hand slowly, always hesitant to bring any sort of attention upon myself. “Rose?” she asked, her three eyes square on me.
I took a deep breath and swallowed.
“If you see a Giant, ma’am… run.”