(I'll be sharing a few every day for a while. Until we get to 20.)
By Rhonda Palmer
Fable One: The mouse and the cup.
Carrying water was never a problem for the young mouse. She had her little bucket and had worn her own path to the river. Each day she carried water to the palace, and poured it into a silver cup with a single green jewel at the base. It was all she had to do. Food was plentiful on the path and she could stop and nibble a berry or a bit of fresh grass whenever she wanted—as long as the cup was filled by sunset. What happened to the water at night was a great mystery to her, and she never saw any other living creature in or around the castle. Still, she did her job and was proud that in all her short life she hadn’t missed a day of work. Her mother had taught her how to carry the small bucket, how to climb the vine running from ground to tower window—how to carefully pour the water into the cup—how to do this in rain and wind and snow. Soon it would be time for her to teach someone else. She looked forward to the company.
Fable Two: Waiting
When she finally became pregnant, Natalie stopped smoking, started eating better food and took long walks around her treeless suburb. No one was ever out in the afternoon when she walked, and she enjoyed the heavy cloud cover of the northwest and the quiet of curtained windows. She took a water bottle and a handful of raisins and thought quiet thoughts about babies, and little clothes and little shoes. Natalie’s childhood had been lonely and often sad, and she was determined to have a happier home life for her baby. Already she and her husband had made plans to buy passes to the zoo and several museums, and they had picked out schools and tutors. They were planning for Natalie to stay at home and nurse the baby for at least a year. She looked forward to the company.
Fable Three: Waiting
“Can I get a drink?” the old woman asked the nurse. She had been waiting for what seemed hours for someone to answer the light. This nursing home was the worst one in town, but Mildred’s children had made all the arrangements, so here she was. Couldn’t walk, didn’t get enough to eat or drink. God, how she missed those cheeseburgers! And a Coca-Cola, she wanted it over ice. She wanted some fries from the Woolworth’s soda fountain. Those were such great days, when the department store was downtown and had wooden floors and a soda fountain with good cheeseburgers. And that nice man who always put the extra pickles on her burger. The health department had closed them down, eventually, because of a rodent problem they couldn’t fix. And Mildred had gotten older and more alone and her children all lived in other states. She had tried to walk everyday, but one day there was ice, and a fall, and now here she was, asking a grumpy nurse who smelled of cigarette smoke to bring her a glass of tepid ice-water. At that she was glad when the nurse came back with the Styrofoam cup. It was all the company Mildred had to look forward to.