Once upon a time, not so long ago, there lived an old woman whose name was Mathilda. Her home was in a dense forest of tall pine trees and colorful wild flowers of blue, yellow, orange, and violet.
Mathilda had a beautiful-sweet-natured granddaughter, who loved to dress up in red clothes. The girl was friendly and adored animals of all kinds. Every week she would make the hike through the woods to see her grandmother, always taking along a basket of fresh fruit and goodies. Regrettably, these days, unless an adult escort was available, she couldn’t visit as often. This was due to an unfortunate incident involving a wolf and something having to do with sheep’s clothing a few months prior. The investigation was ongoing.
However, Mathilda wasn’t lonely. She lived in a diverse neighborhood with a motley collection of characters–most of them bordering on the eccentric. There was seldom a dull moment.
Three bears, daddy, mummy, and baby bear were just down the lane. Mathilda often joined them in the morning for a bowl of porridge and a good story. (She once suggested cornflakes. They became outraged. It was quite awkward.) She particularly liked their story about a little girl with golden locks, who preferred bagels for breakfast.
The old woman knew lots of young girls. It seemed like they all had long blonde hair, but were still reasonably intelligent. The exception was one older girl, who had black silken hair that streamed down her back, blue eyes, and skin as white as snow. The adopted daughter of a famous man Walt something or other. Dash it all, Mathilda could never remember his last name. But she did remember a grim custody battle between “old-what’s-his-name” and some brothers who claimed they owned the rights to the girl’s fortune.
Such a strange child she was, always hanging out with seven little men who used to live across the pond. Maybe she was attracted to their English accents. At any rate, the friendship certainly furthered her acting career.
Another neighbor Mathilda was particularly fond of didn’t get out much. The poor thing did nothing but housework and catered to her stepmother and stepsisters. As Mathilda recalled, the three of them were quite ugly in face and attitude.
Strangely, one night last week, it was clear in her mind as it was very late, close to midnight, the girl stopped by for a visit. Mathilda hardly recognized her. She was dressed in a beautiful gown, but wearing only one shoe, with a mouse on her shoulder. Mathilda wanted to whack the dirty little rodent with a spoon she had wrestled away from a dish earlier in the day, but the girl got all flustered claiming it was her friend. Kids today, what was wrong with them?
The forest also had more than its fair share of royalty. There was a princess who complained about not being able to sleep; something to do with bruises and a pea? Then there was one that was always crying from the tower of the castle. Rumor had it; she was locked up for her own safety. Personally, Matilda thought it was a blatant abuse of the child labor laws. All the poor princess did was weave and spin yarns morning to night. (Sounded like Mathilda’s ex-husband.) Then there was a princess who snored all day long? She’d been asleep for years.
People were always moving in and out of the neighborhood. But Matilda was particularly happy when the dreadful woman with all those spotted dogs left. The noise and smell permeated the whole forest. Never once had Mathilda heard the cruel old hag even say a kind word to the poor beasts, and forget about her picking up any of their droppings. Finally, the council voted unanimously that anyone not cleaning up after their pets would be fined and thrown into the king’s dungeon until the cow got back from her trip over the moon. There was only one abstention, that crybaby egg who claimed he was all cracked up and had to get himself put back together again before he could commit to anything.
Talking of animals, there was a cat who thought he was human; he walked around in a pair of leather boots. It was quite amusing to watch him chase mice in them. Surely, a pair of Nikes would be more comfortable.
As Mathilda sat dozing in her rocking chair, she thought how much happier she was not living in that smelly shoe with all her children. Who were all grown and out on their own: working, earning lots of money, and supporting their old mum in a lifestyle anyone could appreciate.
Just then, her bedroom door opened and in walked her granddaughter sporting a school backpack.
“Come on Grandma, wake up. You promised to take me to the zoo today for my birthday.”
“Huh, what? You’re not wearing red today!”
“Duh!” The girl smacked and cracked her gum blowing a big bubble until it popped loudly. “Gran, you know . . .like . . . black is tthhee color in L.A. . . . like . . . I hate red.”
“Really!” Mathilda said surprised. She shook her head to clear the cobwebs.
“Mom! I think . . . like, Gran’s had one of those crazy dreams again.”
Gran looked sad. “It’s okay dear. Why don’t you go downstairs and wait by the car.”
Her granddaughter rolled her eyes but did as she was told.
Matilda struggled out of her chair and went to grab a coat then stopped. She was tired of that spoiled brat. She walked over to the closet, took out a broomstick, mumbled a few words then flew off into the sunset to live happily ever after.
The moral of the story is: (your choice)
The reluctant hero.
Jake stood on the pier mesmerized. A girl he had spoken with only 15 minutes earlier, had jumped into the stormy winter ocean. He should have jumped in to save her, but didn’t know how to swim. She came up struggling and screaming. Jake looked around and there was no-one close by. She went down a second time. Jake still stood there. Did she look like she wanted to die or had she changed her mind? She surfaced a second time, closer to the pier, where the surf was beating fiercely against the old wooden beams. The water was shallower but less inviting. As she sank another time he knew he had one last chance to save this girl’s life. He threw off his shoes and jacket and slithered down the slimy plank, gagging from the smell of rotting garbage and seaweed. Holding on precariously, he waited, which, seemed like an eternity. Where was she? Had he lost his chance to save her? Suddenly a lock of her golden hair surfaced as she floated close-by. With all his strength and courage, he threw himself in the murky water and grabbed her. She suddenly came to life, screaming once again. Thank God, she was alive. She screamed even louder as he pulled her closer to the rickety steps. “It’s okay.” he yelled. She struggled free as he heard a loud voice from a hovering helicopter, yell “CUT!!!!!”