flax-golden tales: authorized persons only

authorized persons onlyauthorized persons only

I like to sit in the park and read in the afternoons, usually in the same round gated garden because there’s more shade but today the fence has been replaced by a tall grey wall that says Authorized Persons Only where the gate used to be.

There’s no door, as far as I can tell, but I follow the wall around to the side and find a window just about eye-level with closed shutters covered in peeling white paint.

I knock on the window and the shutters open and at first I don’t see anyone but then the top halves of two heads with leaves stuck in their messy curls pop into view, staring at me with bright brown eyes.

Guten Tag! the pair of leafy-haired moppets shouts in unison but when I ask them if I can come into the garden they reply: Only if you’re Authorized!

How do I get authorized? I ask and they duck out of sight and converse in loud yet unintelligible whispers for a moment.

When they pop back up they ask: Are you an Author? If you’re an Author then you are Authorized.

What’s the difference between an author and a writer? I ask them in return.

They look at each other and then back at me and then they vanish back down and the whisper-bickering goes on so long that I take my book and retreat to another corner of the park.

The next day the wall says Writerized or Authorized Persons Only, but they still won’t let me in.


About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

flax-golden tales: take a seat

take a seattake a seat

Come in, come in and take a seat, but please don’t wait for the show to start.

It has already started.

You probably thought it would begin once an audience had assembled, we apologize for any confusion.

The show began before you arrived and it will continue after you leave.

(It may follow you like a puppy or a lingering dream.)

You don’t have to stay here, this is just where we keep the chairs and you can take your chair with you, if you are attached to it, or you may choose another.

The only wrong decision is choosing not to change if you are unsatisfied with your last choice.

(It is, we know, a difficult thing to choose new choices and make new changes but it is best, do please trust us on that matter.)

Whatever you choose, please don’t wait.

As we mentioned previously: the show has already begun and we need you to play your part, whatever you wish that to be.


About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

flax-golden tales: the dog will see you now

the dog will see you now

the dog will see you now

I heard from reliable sources that the cat who lives at 23 Pine Street can answer any question but when I get to number 23 Pine Street there’s no cat, just a gardener outside who stops digging up long-dead begonias to inform me that the cat’s owners moved to Pennsylvania or Kentucky, one of those, he’s not sure which but they took the cat with them, he’s fairly certain of that.

“I don’t suppose there are any other question-answering animals around here, then?” I ask.

The gardener frowns—a bigger frown than the question deserves in my opinion—and he gazes past me, down the street a bit.

“You could ask the dog at number forty-two,” he suggests after a too-long pause, still frowning, mostly with his eyebrows, “but the dog only receives supplicants on Wednesdays between seven and ten a.m.”

“Today is Wednesday” I observe aloud but that doesn’t even get a nod. I check my watch and it’s 9:54am so I thank the gardener (he grunts something before turning the frown on the former begonias) and I hurry down the street, counting house numbers as I go.

Number 42 does indeed have a dog sitting at the top of the front steps, and several people on the sidewalk nearby though they all seem to be walking away, a couple of guys in suits nodding to themselves and one lady in a hat crying.

The dog says Hello and I ask him if he can answer questions like the cat who until recently lived at number 23 could, and he shakes his head sadly and his ears flop a bit and he tells me questions are more of a cat thing, he only tells people their truths.

He says he can do that, if I would like, and I say sure, might as well, since I’m here.

Then the dog tells me my truths and I forget what my question was.


About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

flax-golden tales: mind the bell

mind the bell

mind the bell

They used to say “Mind the Bell” mostly as a… what’s the opposite of a greeting? They’d say it when bidding farewell to someone, sometimes turning it into a single word: mindthebell, or minddebel. Nobody does it as much anymore, but teachers still say it at the end of class, because their teachers said it and their teachers before them.

I asked once what it meant and was told it was a shortened version of “Be Mindful of the Bell” but when I asked why we needed to be mindful of the bell no one could give me an answer.

They’d point at the old bell tower with its perpetually silent bell and shrug.

My grandmother told me once that if it rings I should run as fast as I can, but my father says grandma doesn’t always make the most sense.

I know someone who tried to climb the bell tower once on a dare, but he only got about halfway up the beams before he couldn’t find anymore footholds and had to go back down.

He told me he got high enough to see the bell properly, but as far as he could tell it didn’t have a rope or anything to ring it so the whole minding thing was probably just an expression.

But this morning it started ringing and I was the only one who ran.

So I was the only one who got away.


About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

flax-golden tales: elevator to your destiny

elevatorelevator to your destiny

There’s an up button and a down button but they don’t really mean what they say.

It’s a preliminary test, to assess your state of mind.

(They’ll tell you in secretive tones that up is always better than down, but that’s not at all true.)

Once an elevator decides to let you in, the direction it goes is always personalized for the rider.

But you have to know where you want to go.

If you don’t know, the elevator won’t move.

This part can be intimidating.

Many choose the stairs for fear of ending up in an immobile elevator.

(The trick is: you don’t have to be certain about your destination, you just have to have an idea.

And you can always try again.)


About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

flax-golden tales: pray to strange gods and receive strange answers

strange godspray to strange gods and receive strange answers

The strange gods are gods of the in-betweens and the unnoticed things, but they are still gods.

Gods of lost socks and orphaned foxes and 3:52pm.

And they will answer your prayers, if they are in the mood.

Say hello and wish them well and hold out your hands.

They might send you feathers or fountain pens or illustrations ripped from children’s books.

Bits of broken neon signs or rotary telephones or roller skates.

Or they might ignore you entirely.

Or they might respond in ways that are not as tangible as skeleton keys and candy hearts.

And the strange gods don’t particularly care if you believe in them or not.

They don’t particularly believe in you, either.


About flax-golden tales. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.