Tickling Butterflies is an epic fantasy, containing 128 fairy tales that together create one huge story.
Here’s the story so far. The story continues:
The Winds of Chance
(Containing the auspicious tale in which Al the Average returns to our story.)
Al the Average was a big believer in letting chance have its way with him.
Al the Average had grown up in a small house in Bambooville, a tiny town in the farthest corner of the farthest shire in the farthest land of the Land of All Legends.
When he was nine years old (and John the Cute was still in his mother’s womb) Al the Average was playing in a field of wheat, and a tornado appeared between him and the Bambooville. Al the Average did not know what to do. The tornado seemed dangerous. As it headed straight for him, it tore trees out of the ground by their roots. Al the Average did not know in which direction he should run because he did not know in which direction the tornado would go.
After five moments of panic, Al the Average decided to close his eyes and surrender to chance.
He heard the tornado approach, and through closed eyes he imagined another place and another time. He felt the wind begin to strike him, and he began to tell himself a story about True Love.
Suddenly, he felt the wind lift him into the air. And yet he did not open his eyes, surrendering to chance and the Fates, and imagining a more peaceful story than this.
After being shoved this way and that, and after feeling like he was falling down a slide, his feet touched solid ground, his body was unhurt, and the wind was gone.
When he had opened his eyes, he discovered himself in another world. It was a world of tall buildings and rooms that lit up during the nights without candles. It was a world filled with roads in which not horses rode, but mechanized carriages on wheels. Most importantly, it was a world with a lot of music, music that usually played on a strange box called a ‘radio’.
Without knowing how he had gotten there, without knowing what that world was, he fell in love with that place.
But when he woke up the next day, he found himself back in the wheat field outside Bambooville. He was disappointed that it had all been a fantasy. But then, upon a second glance, he discovered a radio at his feet.
He had been to that other, strange world!
The radio could be turned on, but it only played a strange kind of uniform noise.
From that point on, whenever there was a windy day, Al the Average would return to the wheat field, close his eyes, and hope to return to that magical world.
During the next fifteen years, Al the Average had returned to the magical world only twice more, never knowing how he had gotten there, never knowing how he had returned. But every time he came back with a souvenir from that place.
On his second visit, he returned with a book that included stories about some of the friendly creatures that lived in nearby cities, like Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, and Jack and his beanstalk. This was strange, because Al the Average did not know Little Red Riding Hood was famous enough to have a book written about her.
On his third visit, he returned with a machine called a ‘glider’. This machine allowed people to soar through the air and the wind as if they were a bird.
When Al the Average was twenty-four years old, he put the radio on one of the shelves of his fixit shop, because he liked to listen to the noise when no one was around.
John the Cute entered his shop, and inquired about the radio. In a moment of weakness, Al the Average explained what a radio was. John the Cute loved the radio so much, that he told everyone in town about it.
Too late, Al the Average realized his mistake, hid the radio, and denied everything. Soon, the talk of the radio died and people began to speak of other things. Al the Average believed his mistake had been a small one, and that nothing of great importance had occurred.
Two years later news came to Bambooville that King Charming the Fourth was dead, and that John the Cute was now king. Two weeks after the king’s coronation, Al the Average was walking back to his shop when he saw one of the king’s soldiers ride into town and stop at the fixit shop. Al the Average followed the soldier afar, as the king’s man asked everyone about Al the Average. When no one knew where Al the Average was, the soldier began to ask everyone if they had ever seen a special seashell called a ‘radio’.
There and then, Al the Average understood that King John the Cute would never rest until he took all of his possessions from him and forced him to tell all his secrets.
Come nighttime, Al the Average snuck back into his shop, took his book, his radio, and his glider, and ran away from Bambooville forever.
He climbed atop the highest hill in the shire, and jumped off, using the glider. Al the Average closed his eyes and surrendered to the wind, allowing the currents of air to carry him this way and that.
For two weeks he was in the air, with his eyes closed, being handed from one wind to another. For two weeks, he dared not open his eyes, allowing chance and the Fates to have its way with him. Then, when the winds tired of him, they gently put him and his glider down.
Al the Average opened his eyes, expecting to be in some remote spot, or perhaps even in the magical world. In front of him, he saw the gates of the palace. The Fates and the winds had dropped him at King John the Cute’s doorstep!
Al the Average quickly dropped the glider, and with his book and radio, jumped into the nearest river. Al the Average closed his eyes and surrendered to the currents, allowing him to pass from one river to another, then to the currents of the open sea. For two weeks, he let chance and the Fates and the currents have their way with him. And then, when the currents tired of him, they thrust him gently onto solid ground.
Al the Average opened his eyes, expecting to be in some remote continent no one had ever heard of. In front of him, he saw the gates of the palace in Capital City. The Fates had dropped him at King John the Cute’s doorstep once more!
Al the Average held the book and the radio even tighter, and ran as quickly as he could. He ran for four days and four nights. He ran in a straight line, trusting his legs more than he trusted the Fates now.
At the end of four days, exhausted, Al the Average stopped to take a breath. Near him, a young blind woman rested on a bench.
“What would you be breathing so hard about?” she said.
“It is nothing,” Al the Average panted. “The king wants to see me. He wants to me tell him my secrets. I would rather be anywhere but there.”
He had felt safe confiding in a woman that could not see, could not identify him, and could not run after him.
To his surprise, he felt the woman’s grip on his neck. “Is that right, now? My name is Sarah O’Connell, you scoundrel, and no one naysays the king when I am around!”
For the first time, Al the Average realized that the woman was not blind, but had a cloth around her eyes; and that her strength was the strength of ten men. Her hand around his throat and still blindfolded, she began to drag Al the Average by the neck in the direction of Capital City. “Come,” she said. “We have a little trip ahead of us. I hear the palace is lovely this time of year.”
This has been the auspicious tale in which the Fates brought Sarah O’Connell back to the presence of King John the Cute.
(To be continued on Sunday…)