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by Aubrey Beardsley

“What do you mean, Alex?” Sagacia asked the nice young man, reading his name from his khaki shirt. Miller Hardware it said on his pocket in blue letters, and just above that, in red, “Alex.”

“You can get two doorbell buttons for the price of one,” Alex repeated.

“But, we only need one,” said Simplia patiently. “We need to replace ours because it was damaged by an arrow last week. You can sell us just one, can’t you, Alex?” Even as she spoke, she recognized that her flirtatious coaxing had no effect on the twenty-something lad.

“I’m sorry, but we have an agreement with the manufacturer,” he explained. “Besides, it never hurts to have a spare!”

Sagacia sighed and opened her purse; Alex pulled a Miller Hardware pen from his Miller Hardware pocket and began filling out a Miller Hardware receipt as Sagacia counted out two fives, two ones and enough change to cover the tax. Alex put the two doorbell buttons in a brown Miller Hardware sack and handed it to Sagacia, then distributed her bills and coins into the cash drawer.

When they reached home, Simplia got out her toolbox and mounted the new fixture, and Sagacia went inside to reheat last night’s soup. When Simplia came into the kitchen, lunch was ready, and they sat down to eat.

The doorbell rang.

“Well, I guess I got the wires connected right,” Simplia said, jumping up and striding toward the door.

“Sagacia!” she called. “Come look!”

Sagacia obliged, and there at the door she surveyed the practically the same scene she had looked upon a few days earlier: an arrow in the doorbell button and a sheet of parchment sealed with wax on the doormat.

“Good thing we got two for one!” Sagacia said, pulling out the arrow.

Simpia picked up the parchment. “For Vasilisa,” she read.

“Of course! It’s the magical third day of the month,” Sagacia observed.

She shut the door, and the Simpletons returned to the table where Simplia read the letter aloud.

Dear Vasilisa the Wise,
I have noticed that some fairy tales are clearly directed toward small children.  I’m thinking of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” “The Three Little Pigs,” “Chicken Little,” and more. Probably many more than I know about!
Others seem to be for older children, such as Jack Tales, “Red Riding Hood,”  “Hansel and Gretel,” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” (Is that a “fairy tale?” a “trickster tale”? a “wisdom tale”? or what?). Also your own story, Vasalisa, about the doll your mother gave you.
Still others seem to be for and about teenagers and young adults in the dating stage of life, or at least of marriageable age: “Frog Prince,” “East of the Sun and West of the Moon,” “Snow Maiden,” “Cowherd and Weaving Maid,” and many of your stories, Vasalisa, when you marry the Tsarevich, as well as the tales the Disney princesses resemble, however remotely.
So it seems logical that there would be fairy tales for adults as well. Are there? What are some fairy tales that address adult issues.  I don’t mean “adult” like X-rated; I just mean fairy tales that speak to us as mature beings. I bet some of your storyteller friends can help!
     –Middle-aged in Madison

“Well,” said Simplia, “I guess fairy tales about millers and shoemakers and tinkers are about adults,” she said. “And Ali Baba had a grown-up son, so he was middle aged, and so are kings and queens.”

“But I think I know what Middle-aged in Madison is asking,” Sagacia said. “Not just about fairy tales with adults in them but fairy tales for them. Are there fairy tales that shed light on the experience of being an adult? or bring gratification to adults? Children are gratified by stories in which a child accomplishes something adult-like or achieves a kind of justice, and teens are gratified when a character finds their life’s mate. What is gratifying to adults? What do adults yearn for? What would make adults live ‘happily ever after’? Are there fairy tales that tell those stories?”

“Hmmm…” Simplia reflected.

At least, Sagacia thought she was reflecting, until she asked, “Do you remember where we put that extra doorbell button?”

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