It begins with a low rumbling noise.
The sound of something far away.
Like thunder in the distance.
Or water tumbling off the vertical slopes of a cliff.
Rolling towards me urgently, surging in intensity.
And if I listen keenly for a while, tuning out the rest of the world, I can begin to discern the chuckles and the words and then the sentences and what they mean.
And I wonder from where all the words of wisdom are being hurled at me.
And I look around to see the the grinning skull talking to me.
His grin is evil, his laughter hideous, his eyes hollow with bottomless depths, but there is a sincerity in his words making it hard for me to ignore him and walk away.
The post-it stuck to his forehead says mysteriously, Take a penny, Leave a penny.
I deposit a coin in front of the skull, and he tells me a life secret.
I fish for another coin in my purse and place it by his chin.
He shares another life secret.
He is eager for more pennies, and I for words of wisdom, and that makes him garrulous.
When I run out of pennies, he says he can trade his secrets for mine.
The rule, however, is to take only as much as I can leave behind for him.
Momma says the talking skull is a big, fat liar and that I shouldn't trust him with my secrets.
So I am thinking maybe I could trade in my stories instead.
I hope he will like them enough.