I’m serializing my fairy tale novel, Tickling Butterflies. A new fairy tale ‘episode’ is published every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday.
Here’s the story so far.
Enjoy the latest fairy tale:
The Soldier’s Gift
(Containing the respectful tale of a dutiful soldier’s gift.)
Once, during the days of King John the Cute’s quest to learn the secrets of the Land of All Legends, he had traveled to the Happily Ever After Home for the Married. There, desperately seeking to find people, creatures, or animals old enough to have seen the solution to mysteries, he approached anyone who seemed to possess answers to the mysteries that plagued the land.
On his second day at the Happily Ever After Home for the Married, King John the Cute saw a soldier eating breakfast with his wife. The soldier reminded King John the Cute of his trustworthy advisor, Colonel Stone, and so the king was drawn to the couple.
King John the Cute approached the couple. “My name is King John the Cute,” he introduced himself.
The woman and soldier bowed. Then, when the woman raised her eyes to and saw the king’s face, she said, “What a strange name. Why were you given that name?”
“That is a long story,” answered the king, “and my time is short. I am attempting to learn the secrets of the Land of All Legends. Could you tell me your story?”
The soldier obediently put down his fork and spoon and said, “Of course, your highness.”
Many years ago, began the soldier, back when we were both nineteen, I had met my beautiful wife and we had fallen in love. We were married and built a home for ourselves. But then a war broke out, and I was drafted into the service.
I went to war, and every three months I was allowed to return home for a weekend. We spent those weekends hugging each other and telling each other how much we missed our happy lives.
The war ended after two years, and my lovely wife believed that I would return forever. But my orders were different. I received a highly secret and highly important mission, which would require me to go into enemy land for a long, long time. I am not allowed, even today, to say what my mission was. And I was not allowed at the time to say how long I would be gone for.
And so, we spent our last weekend together for a long, long time.
When we said our goodbyes, I told my lovely wife, “I have left you a gift, a gift you will love. When my gift appears in its entirety, then and only then will I return.”
“What was that gift?” asked King John the Cute.
“I believe it is now my turn to tell the rest of the story,” said the wife.
A long, long time ago, a week after our last weekend together, I learned that there was a baby in my stomach. I knew there and then that this was the gift my brave husband had left me.
Although I was sad that my brave husband was gone, I was happy that I would soon have his child. And I believed that I understood his promise. When the baby came out, my brave husband would surely return.
Nine months later, I gave birth to a beautiful baby. As I nursed the baby, I waited for my husband to return. But he did not return. Then, seven days after I had given birth, I learned that there was another baby in my stomach.
My brave husband had left me quite a gift! He had left a slew of babies, waiting in line to grow in the stomach and be born.
In that way, I gave birth to a second baby, then nine months later to a third baby, and nine months later to a fourth baby. Years passed, and the gift my brave husband had left me kept coming and coming. And my husband was nowhere to be seen.
Then, after six years and exactly nine babies, my brave husband returned from his mission, saying that he has completed it successfully and that he has now been released from duty.
Ever since, we have raised our nine children. And now that they are all grown up, we have moved here to the Happily Ever After Home for the Married to live happily ever after.
This has been the surprising story, the wife said, of the wonderful gift my brave husband had left me.
King John the Cute said, “That is a wonderfully romantic story. Thank you for sharing it. I wonder if you know a man called Colonel Stone.”
“I can’t say that I have ever met the colonel,” said the dutiful soldier.
“Perhaps it was after your time,” said the King. “Have you perhaps heard of a place called Panache?”
“Yes, I have,” said the dutiful soldier. “The soldiers were saying it was a dangerous place.”
“Do you know where it is?” asked the king.
“I did once…” the dutiful soldier did his best to recall. “But try as I might right now, I cannot remember where it is, except… that it is somehow hidden from view in a most complex way. My king, I will take it upon myself to search my brain and rack my memories until I recall where Panache is. And I promise to you, that on the day you will most need to find Panache, I will be at your palace with the coordinates.”
King John the Cute put his hand on the soldier’s shoulder. “I can ask for no more than this. Thank you very much.”
This has been the dutiful tale of how a dutiful soldier made an important promise to King John the Cute.
(To be continued on Thursday…)