The Shepherd

A couple of days ago we were asked to take an image of a traditional character (from existing stories that was brought by another residency participant) without knowing what the original story of that character was. The criteria was to change the gender of the character in some way, and to choose one other thing about the character to change…then write their story.
To the left is the photo I worked from.

This is the story I wrote.

A long time ago there was a young man who carried all the coats of his ancestors on his back. There were many, many coats, going back through history. As he travelled through the mountainsides, sheep began to follow him in hopes that they could add to the legacy of all his beautiful coats. This is how he became a shepherd.

Each night the shepherd would stop at dusk, step out of the coats (so many, such deep layers that they remained the same shape), cook his dinner and dream of finding someone he loved to spend his days with.
The sheep, each dusk, would settle together around the young man and his coats and dream a collective dream: one in which the young man found someone to teach him how to take their fine wool and make it into another coat for him, more beautiful than the rest.

Day after day the shepherd would don the coats in the morning, and take them all off at night.

“How handsome he looks,” thought all the sheep, each one sure that THEIR wool would be the finest to add to the legacy.

One day, they came over the ridge of a hill and saw a village below. Outside one of the cottages, a young man sat spinning rough wool into fine yarn.

The sheep were seriously impressed. They thought, “If he can do that with terrible wool – imagine he could do with our fine fleeces!”
The coat-carrying shepherd wandered down into the valley to ask the young spinner where to find a market, as his supplies were low.
The spinner gaped at the sheep, at their gorgeous fleeces, then at the quantity of fine coats the shepherd was wearing. He asked, “where are you going with all those amazing coats?”

Their eyes met, and the rest is like every other happy ending you have ever read.

Although the ending might seem like a cop-out, it is actually a reference to old faerie tales from Ireland. My Mother took my sister and I to Ireland when I graduated high school, back in 1988. I bought a few books there of old Irish faerie tales, and a surprising number of tales ended this way: “like every other happy ending.”

I thought it was fitting as I believe that love is love. Happy endings are happy endings.

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