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 Perfect Couple
(Containing the flawless tale about the flaws of perfection.)
Once upon a time, during the travels of King John the Cute to the Happily Ever After Home for the Married, he came upon an old man, sitting alone. Almost everyone was old in the Happily Ever After Home for the Married, but hardly anyone was alone.
King John the Cute, his curiosity piqued, approached the lone man.
“Old Man,” said King John the Cute. “My name is King John the Cute. What is your name?”
The old man snapped out of his reverie, and looked at King John the Cute with excitement. “Eh?” Then, squinting his eyes, he saw the king, and trouble returned to his face. “I’m sorry, I thought you were someone else. What? Huh?” With a slight delay, he processed the king’s words. “You’re the king, you say? Hello, your highness. My name is Loyal Luke.”
“Loyal Luke, are you here with a wife or a love of some sort? You appear to be sitting alone.”
“Alone? Yes. I am sitting alone. I have no love, you see. I only have loyalty. My masters have gone. We have agreed to meet here. I wait for them loyally until they return.”
“Your masters? Where are they?”
“Dead, I fear. Still, they should return any day now.”
“I sense there is a story behind your words, Loyal Luke. Please tell me your masters’ story.”
It began with perfection, Loyal Luke began his tale. And it began a long, long time ago.
I believe it was exactly a thousand years and a thousand days ago, a man and a woman were born, and they were perfect in every way. Their beauty was perfect, their intelligence was perfect, their talent for anything they chose to do was perfect, their lives were blessed with perfect luck since everything they sought they eventually achieved.
The man was called Perfect Paul, and the woman was called Flawless Farah.
And on the day they met, their love was perfect and true.
Their courtship was perfect, their chemistry flawless. Everyone loved them. They loved themselves and each other.
Perfect Paul proposed marriage to Flawless Farah, and she agreed.
However, at the time Perfect Paul was obsessed with learning to fly. He was determined that a man as perfect as himself could learn to do anything, including fly.
Perfect Paul told Flawless Farah that as much as he wanted to marry her, he also wanted to be worthy of her flawless love. And so, they would only marry once he had conquered flight.
Flawless Farah told him that he was worthy of her love already, that she loved him now, as he was. But Perfect Paul knew that he could be even more perfect, that he could achieve complete perfection if he did the impossible and achieved flight. And so Perfect Paul would not listen to his beloved.
For three years he toiled and troubled, for three years he slaved and struggled, until finally he built a machine with wings that appeared just like a giant bird.
He invited all their families and loved ones to the top of a cliff, for after he would achieve flight, he planned to marry Flawless Farah immediately.
He sat in his machine, and the strongest men among those attending pushed the winged machine off the cliff.
The machine, however, was not as perfect as Perfect Paul, and it broke almost as soon as Perfect Paul was in the air. He and his machine fell down thousands of feet into the rocks below. That day, Perfect Paul was claimed by Death.
“But wait,” King John the Cute interrupted Loyal Luke. “Why are you waiting for someone who died more than a thousand years ago? And why here?”
“The story is not over, my liege,” said Loyal Luke. “You must have patience, like me. Now listen closely, please.”
Flawless Farah, Loyal Luke continued with his tale, was so distraught by the death of her True Love, that in her desperation she sought out the most powerful and most evil witch of all times.
She explained to her the events that had occurred, and asked if the witch could defeat Death and bring back Perfect Paul.
“None that I know can defeat Death,” answered the witch. “But Death need not be defeated. Your loved one is not yet in the Afterdeath and so not completely gone. His soul is still being carried by Death, and he is slowly making his way to Death’s Door. If Death reaches Death’s Door, he will place your loved one’s soul in the Afterdeath, and it will be too late for me to help you. But for now, there is a spell I could perform.”
“Please! Then perform it!” shouted Flawless Farah. “We have no time!”
“I must warn you,” the witch said. “That my spell is mean and evil.”
“I do not care. Bring him back!”
“I must also warn you that my spell has never been tried before. It can only work once, during the entire time span of the Land of All Legends.”
“Then this is the perfect time to do it. Please! Do it now!”
“Within a minute, you will be given one last chance to change your mind. Now I will explain the nature of the spell. It will make sure that Perfect Paul will remain dead, but his soul will be reborn.”
“Reborn?” echoed Flawless Farah. “What does that mean?”
“It means that a baby will be born, with Perfect Paul’s soul. The baby will grow up with no memories of his previous life. Then the spell will make sure that when the baby is grown to adulthood, you two will meet and fall in love.”
“But he shall not remember who he was and who you were. Only when you die, will memories of his past life flood back. He will remember who he is and what had happened. But he will be forced to live without you.”
“Yes. You will die. Only to be reborn, as well. And so will the two of you always be reborn throughout the ages. Always you will be born without memories. Always you will meet and fall in love. Always there will come a time when Death claims one of you. And upon that instant, and only upon that instant, the one who is alive will remember who he or she truly is and recall the lives you two have lived. And so it will be for ages and ages.”
“Is there no way to reverse the spell?”
“There is no way to reverse the spell. Flawless Farah, will you consent to the evil spell? Will you bring back Perfect Paul to life, even though you will never be able to be with him? Or will you allow him to remain dead?”
Flawless Farah’s answer was clear, “Bring him back to life, evil witch. Perform your spell!”
And the evil witch did, indeed, perform the spell.
Twenty years later, Flawless Farah, now old and alone, met a young man seeking to achieve a perfect way to control the wind. They fell in love. Flawless Farah wondered if it was possible that this young man could actually be Perfect Paul in a new body. But her wondering caused her to become distracted, and she fell in a pothole, slipped, and died. Death claimed her, but not for long. For she was reborn as well. The young man, who had fallen in love Flawless Farah, suddenly remembered the life of Perfect Paul and Flawless Farah and knew that he had missed his second chance to be with her.
He took his own life with despair. And so Death claimed him. But not for long.
Twenty five years after that, a couple met in Capital City, and fell in love. They were set to marry. But the man, determined to have the perfect wedding, invented the perfect cake with perfect fireworks. In a ceaseless effort to create the perfect fireworks he tested, retested, and retested again every explosive imaginable. During one of his more dangerous tests, he died. Memories flooded the woman, who despaired for the third loss of her love’s life.
And so it has been for more than a thousand years. It always ends with death. It always begins anew with rebirth. Perfect Paul is always trying to do something too perfectly and too well, and destroys his and Flawless Farah’s future together with his quest for utter perfection.
Forty years ago, I began my job as the loyal servant of Earl Perfect, the earl that sought to build a bridge into the Afterdeath. Twenty years ago, he met Duchess Precision. They fell in love. Earl Perfect was all ready to marry his Duchess, but only when he became worthy of her – by building a bridge to the kingdom of Death.
But in attempting to build the bridge, he was attacked by the man-killing plant that guards Death’s Door. Once news of his death arrived to the duchess, the memory of a thousand years of losses glutted her mind. She quickly recovered. This time, she was determined not to die before meeting Perfect Paul again, and to defeat the curse by knowing with whom she falls in love.
Duchess Precision told me to go to the Happily Ever After Home for the Married. She told me that next time, she will find a way to stop Perfect Paul from being perfect, and that the two of them will come to rest at the Happily Ever After Home for the Married.
And so here I sit. And here I wait. For my duchess and a man I’ve never seen. Or perhaps she has died as well, but surely she will find a way to defeat the curse the next time. And so perhaps I am waiting for a woman I have never seen with a man I have never seen.
And here I shall keep on sitting, until they come or until I die, waiting for Perfect Paul to realize that perfection is sometimes bad for you.
King John the Cute rose and put his hand on Loyal Luke’s shoulder. “Good luck to you, my loyal man. I hope that when next I come here, I will see you reunited with your masters.”
“Thank you, my liege.”
This has been the perfectly flawless story in which King John the Cute learned that even perfection has its flaws.
(To be continued on Tuesday…)