• W. Stendahl

Mayor's Sunday Séance for 5/1/2022 - Dark Stories: Part A

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Mayor's Sunday Séance for 5/1/2022 - Dark Stories: Part A

Greetings and Good Evening, Dearest Sundown-ians.

It still amazes me to this day how a blank piece of paper can represent so many different possibilities, opportunities, choices…and feelings. Though it is true that any assembly of words could be put on a blank page, or the next great drawing could bleed from my spinal cord to my fingers on any new white sheet of paper, it is the feelings blank pieces of flattened tree induced in me throughout my life that still causes me to pause and reflect.

Nowadays, I look at the blank piece of paper with dread, wondering how I can fill it with anything resembling the traits of “greatness”, “history-making”, and “remembered forever”. I literally have to pull some teeth (not necessarily mine) every time I sit in front of the digital white Word “blank document” page in order to start writing and put the need to be great behind me to write anything, everything, all…just not nothing.

But paper didn’t always have that kind of freezing power over me, nor did it require every word or stroke to be mind and time-altering. The blank page was a welcome center of imagination and creativity. It beckoned me to forget everything else and create the universe that I so desired to be surrounded in, cradled in, forgotten in. And though I believe I was born with a crayon in one hand (I like to pretend it was the color “Timberwolf”) and the pen in the other (feather and ink of course – my poor mother), it was the first half of my sixth-grade year that changed the blank page, and my life, forever.

See, the summer leading up to my sixth-grade year was filled with some, shall we say, “interesting” times, which I am sure we will get into later in this journal. So, my mind was reeling from those hot, sticky summer months as I entered my first middle-school year in Davison, Michigan. As the consequences of my seasonal cavorting still stuck to me like chiggers, buried just below the skin to remain out of sight, but continuously itched to remind me they were still there, I entered the often-dreaded hallways of my first year of middle school. But, to my deepest surprise, my actions over the summer had made their rounds through the ears of gossipers, and I once again was respected and admired by my peers (finally after a tough fall from #1 in 4th grade to last in 5th grade – ah the joys of popularity scales). I even found 7th and 8th graders making way for me through the halls and showing me the ways of middle school in Davison. I still sometimes wake up in awe at how a little outward violence toward someone that altering summer caused such inner peace within my soul, and seemingly how it actually saved me during those three months at middle school in Michigan. However, since the school environment was finally injected with a serum of pain numbing poison, this opened a brief window to let the true demons deep in my bowels crawl their way up my tight throat and peak out my moist mouth, truly testing the waters and ensuring no dragon-slaying knight stood near to correct and bash them into behaving. There were no knights standing by. Hence, my thoughts were finally allowed to be scribbled upon blank paper under the guise of “fiction”, but fiction they were not. My thoughts were very real, and as they were released, I started to realize that my thoughts possessed a strength and courage I was only beginning to physically experience. I mean, don’t you find it quite amazing on how an invisible inscription upon an electric particle can literally mutate the world and you as a human? It truly boggles my mind on how these cloak-n-dagger thoughts can induce extremely powerful actions simply by uttering a completely made up and imagined language into the ear of another human, whether it be by word or paper.

And for me this strange autumn in 6th grade, the power came by the paper method. Jr. High school English class required us to write short stories, and in the midst of doing so, there were no fears of white spaces between light blue parallel lines. I scribed, and I scribed with no inhibitions, no filters, and no qualms (as writing should always be). Stories of a lonely bear who fails to win the mate of his dreams to a much larger bear, then gets shot on his way home to his den while sulking and missing the obvious signs of a hunter in his midst. Not your usual children’s story or fairy tale fodder. I wrote stories that pushed the boundaries of what 6th graders around the globe thought was important. I let my old soul scream upon the rivets of childhood, and as my words expounded and burst the seams that the rivets fought so hard to keep together, so did my mind. I grew up. I changed. I started to see how the world truly was…and from this point forward I started my fight against it.

And, even in my older years as I sit upon the crumbling throne of youth and vitality here in Sundown, the fight continues. The fight to keep the inner child smiling in the face of adversity, to abate the adult skills of dictating and preaching and replace them with smiling and laughter. The fight to draw silly objects on construction paper and celebrate the day’s homework and outside time.

The fight to confront all fears and monsters, which are not hard to find by the dozens in this wonderful little town of ours. But what I have come to ponder and realize by being an official creepy citizen of Sundown: 1) the scariest of monsters are those that look the most “normal”, and 2) white pages awaiting words to be inscribed aren’t that scary after all. "You are starting to learn about the real world," whispered Halloween in my ear.

Goodnight to all of you, no matter where you are!

Signed Sincerely,

W. Stendahl

Mayor of Sundown

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