Let me tell you a story, they begin.
It's hard not to listen to. A story is intriguing, interesting.
The words aren't important, not to start, but they're present. Instead, there's the tone of their voice (low, light, gentle) designed to relax the ear, there's the way they move (willowy, slow, deliberate) that draws the eye, their presence (calming, inviting) commanding the floor without ever saying, listen, or, be quiet.
Spin, they were introduced as. Spin Doctor, but call them Spin. Not their real name, of course, an online handle. A minor celebrity, in their way, if you knew where to look for them they were easy to find. Their messy black curls bounce ever so slightly as they talk, and the soft lighting serves to highlight their dusky skin and dark eyes. The room is hanging on their words already. Even those not paying attention are hushed to keep below the soft tone from the small stage.
They are seated easily, naturally, and their words have been flowing for some time, the cadence of them almost supernatural, drawing visuals along with its own rhythm, waves on the ocean. Their words, not just the words themselves but the sounds of them, the way their chosen, outline the movement of the waters and the flowing of the seas. The sand on the shore drifting, drifting, the wood floating on the waves. It's hard to tell, except for those really paying close attention, if they're truly describing the colours being visualized or if their words are actually blue and grey and glittering in moonlight.
And time flows like water, an observation of the audience, or something that the storyteller said? And water drifts away, and on, and on into the night, losing sight of itself, losing sight of the shore, losing sight of the wood on the waves and the sand on the sea bed and drifting deeper and deeper into the night, and a swell of the voice draws in the listener, even as the volume fades, and a perfectly chosen change of pitch delights, and a new depth of tone suggests a new intensity of the tale.
The narrative itself comes around into itself such that new turns of phrase sound familiar, new imagery seems obvious, new stars dotting the surface of the sea make familiar constellations on the waves carrying sand and ship's wood and the night itself and the audience away to float further into the darkness.
One story begins where another ends, they say. But it's impossible to tell where one ends, in the ever-drifting depths, in the dark night and the deep ocean where no clear bounds are defined or even describable.
The silence drifts through the crowd.
Drifts through the listeners.
Carried on the glittering reflections of constellations in the mind,
across time and space,
until at the front of the room,
a small, slender storyteller in oversized clothes,
with messy curls and dusky skin and shining-dark eyes,
tells the audience that their time is up,
and as one the audience is amazed at how much time was taken
in a story the drifted on a long, deep, dark sea.