- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

Fairy Tales Can Come True

“All right, time for bed.”
“Tell me a story!”
“You want a story, huh?”
“Yeah, but make it a good one this time.”
“What’s wrong with the stories I’ve been telling you?”
“They’re always so sad.”
“Not always.”
“Yes always. There’s always somebody getting hurt and somebody going on a list where they stay hurt and everybody winding up sad in the end.”
“That’s not always.”
“It is most of the time lately. And I don’t want to hear the one about the prospect who keeps getting another chance. That one got old a long time ago.”

“OK, you want a happier story…well, let’s see…there was once a prince.”
“What kind of prince?”
“He was a prince with very long hair.”
“Like Rapunzel?”
“Does the prince let down his hair like Rapunzel?”
“Every five days.”
“Is that very often?”
“It’s as often as the rules let him. Also, the rules say he can let it down for only so long.”
“I thought you said it was very long.”

“This is a different kind of long. The man in charge of the prince’s hair doesn’t want the prince’s hair to get all tangled up in the prince’s right arm, so he keeps track very closely of how much he lets his arm and hair stay on the mound.”
“The mound? What’s the mound for?”
“The mound is where the prince is allowed to show off his arm and his hair and make all the people in the kingdom happy every five days.”
“That’s sounds good.”
“It does, but the man in charge of the prince’s hair and arm worries a great deal about leaving the prince on the mound for too long, so he has developed this habit of snatching the prince away before it’s necessarily time for him to go.”
“Oh no!”
“Yes, it’s a big problem for all the people in the kingdom, because once the prince and the hair and the right arm are gone, the mound becomes a very, very dangerous place.”
“What happens on the mound when the prince is gone?”
“All sorts of terrible arms take the prince’s place and the monsters the prince was keeping from attacking the kingdom…”
“There are monsters?”
“Yes, monsters with big wooden sticks, and the monsters can’t be stopped by the terrible arms that take the prince’s place.”
“Where do these terrible arms come from?”

“They’re dredged up from under rocks, mostly, and are usually kept in a pen. When they stay in the pen, they can’t do any damage, but when they get out…”
“What? What happens?”
“Oh, the monsters and their big wooden sticks get loose and they swing the sticks or, sometimes, they just stand there and are allowed to walk.”
“Walk? Walking doesn’t sound so scary.”
“Have you ever seen one monster after another go for a walk? They just keep walking around until one of the other monsters swings the big wooden stick and it hurts the kingdom very badly.”
“Oh no!”
“So what do you suppose the man in charge had to do?”
“Um, find a way to keep the prince on the mound?”

“That’s right, the prince had to be allowed to stay on the mound. And how do you suppose that happened?”
“I don’t know — how?”
“With help.”
“What kind of help?”
“He got help from a very powerful dude, someone whose powers are very strong, but they only appear in very short bursts a few times a year.”
“Where are they the rest of the time?”
“Nobody knows. He also got help from the hometown boy.”
“The hometown boy?”
“Yes, the hometown boy is usually far from home, but once a year he gets to go home and it is commented upon endlessly that he is back home and he grabs one of those big, wooden sticks and wields it mightily…twice!”
“And how does this help the prince with the long hair and the right arm?”

“Because the very powerful dude and the hometown boy and some of their friends do what they do with the sticks, they make a big cushion for the prince, and he can stay on the mound, all comfy with that cushion for longer than the man in charge usually lets him.”
“Is it a magic cushion?”
“It feels like it to the prince, and even the man in charge can see that, and he lets the prince stay and stay and stay some more, almost to the end.”
“Yes. The prince can stay almost to the end, but never exactly to the end.”
“Why not?”
“It’s the rule.”
“What’s the rule say?”
“OK, it’s not actually a rule. More of an unwritten rule.”
“How is it a rule if it’s not written down?”
“It just is. The man in charge has to rescue the prince with the long hair and the right arm before the prince uses the arm too much.”
“How does he know when it’s too much?”
“He doesn’t. He just thinks he does.”
“I don’t understand.”

“Nobody does. But just before the end, the prince has to leave the mound.”
“Oh no!”
“No, it’s all right, because the prince leaves behind the magic cushion, magical enough to withstand the worst damage any of the terrible arms might accidentally inflict on the people of the kingdom.”
“So it’s a happy ending?”
“Yes, it’s a very happy ending [1].”
“I guess that’s good.”
“Of course it’s good. What’s better than a happy ending?”
“Nothing…but why not just leave the prince on the mound to get to the finish?”
“I told you, there are rules.”
“But you said they’re not written down anywhere.”
“They’re not. But the man in charge has to keep count anyway.”
“Count? Like a royal count?”
“No, more like the way you count your fingers and toes.”
“I have ten fingers and ten toes.”
“The prince has ten fingers and ten toes, but the man in charge counts how many times the prince uses his right arm.”
“Does that help the prince?”
“Maybe. Maybe not. Nobody knows. But that’s the rule.”
“The rule is he has to count how much the prince uses his right arm?”
“The rule is the prince can’t use it to get to the end.”
“But it’s not written down anywhere.”
“That’s right.”
“But if the prince with the long hair makes everybody so happy, why would the man take him off the mound so close to the end?”
“Because the prince will be back on the mound in five days and nobody knows what his right arm will be like then, so you can’t be too careful.”
“Why not?”
“Because you can’t.”
“Does the man in charge have some kind of hard evidence that it matters one way or the other if the prince stays on the mound to the end or only almost to the end?”

“No. And that’s enough questions. You got your story. You got a happy ending. Now you have to get to sleep.”
“OK, I guess. Will you tell me another story tomorrow?”
“We’ll see. Maybe I’ll tell you about the special Pill [2].”
“The special Pill? What’s that?”
“Nobody knows yet. It could make everybody in the kingdom very happy or it could just unleash more monsters.”
“How come these stories don’t all just have happy endings?”
“It’s part of what happens when you decide you’re going to be one of the people in the kingdom.”
“Oh. Oh yeah. I forgot.”