“What’s up?” she asked.
“Oh, I’m just waiting.”
“Waiting for what?”
“Well, it is the third of the month, you know,” Simplia hinted.
“Ah! So you’re waiting for a magical letter to arrive with a question from one of the readers of Vasilisa’s syndicated advice column.”
“Right!” Simplia said. “For the Fairy Tale Question of the Month.”
“So we can pass it along to real storytellers to answer.”
“A watched pot never boils, you know,” Sagacia admonished.
“Well, if it doesn’t come by 11:30 tonight, I’ll go to bed,” said Simplia. “But I’m hoping for sooner.”
“Hope is the thing with feathers,” Sagacia chanted, “That perches in the soul. . .”
“Seems like it usually comes in the morning,” Simplia considered.
“Will there really be a morning? Is there such a thing as day? Could I see it . . .”
“Stop, already!” Simplia interupted. “Poetry and old wive’s tales won’t help!”
“Sorry,” said Sagacia. “I was just, uh, well – you’re right.” She sat down beside her friend.
They swayed to the left.
They swayed to the right.
They looked up into the sky.
They looked across into the woods.
They looked east to the lake.
They looked west to the sunset. Yes, sunset. It was almost 7:00 p.m.
Sagacia pushed herself up and went into the kitchen to feed the cat. She made a couple of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, poured two glasses of milk, set them all on a tray and took it back outside for a picnic on the porch.
Simplia sighed. She checked her watch. Shook it, actually.
When the mosquitoes got bad, they both went back inside.
They watched “Dancing with the Stars.”
They watched “The Daily Show.”
They checked the Fairy Tale Lobby Facebook page on their devices. And their own pages, too.
At last, wearily, the Simpletons went upstairs to bed.
Pinned to Simplia’s pillow was a note.
“Yes!” she exclaimed!
“Sagacia!” she called, and when her friend stumbled into the room, she read aloud:
Dear Vasilisa the Wise,
I sometimes wonder what our fairy tales say to non-traditional families. I can tell you what they say to stepmothers: you are evil! No alternative stories there! (Or are there?)
I wonder what the tales of princes and princesses pursuing one another, marrying, and living “happily ever after” say to GLBT individuals and families and, perhaps more importantly, to questioning youth?
I wonder how those tales of individuals bettering themselves heedless of their neighbors’ needs play with those whose own humanity has been trampled for generations by institutions which are themselves sadly out of date?
I know folk and fairy tales were generated in other times and other social settings, but the tales still speak and seem to affirm particular hierarchical politics and life patterns, some of which abide though some have changed or are in the process of changing.
Do these underlying conditions in fairy tales have NO effect? Or, does the good of expansive imagination and gratifying closure–or some other good (if so, what?)–outweigh their tired perspectives?
Or, am I just the privileged child of a progressive democratic society with no clear view of the great world beyond my own urban, post-industrial, capitalist environment?
–Activist in Oslo
Sagacia looked puzzled.
“I think I’ll read that again tomorrow,” said Simplia.
“Yeah,” said Sagacia yawning. “Put it in the sidebar for now. Luckily, we have magical friends who can help us with puzzling questions such as this.”