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Sometimes it's adversity that stops you in your tracks and gives you enough space and stillness to assimilate the magic you've been so busy chasing. These young people are lying low, waiting out a plague. They twiddle their thumbs and tell each other stories. In some respects, fairy tales saved their lives.
Sometimes it’s adversity that stops you in your tracks and gives you enough space and stillness to assimilate the magic you’ve been so busy chasing. These young people are lying low, waiting out a plague. They twiddle their thumbs and tell each other stories. In some respects, fairy tales saved their lives. (John Wm. Waterhouse — “Decameron” 1916)

Simplia regarded all the unpacking she hadn’t managed to get around to between summer excursions. There was her tote bag from the conference in June, full of papers on whatever the conference had been about. It lay underneath her backpack, still bulging with information and party favors collected at the big July gathering that seemed as though it had happened a year ago. Curios from that Simpleton Symposium in August rattled around in the Samsonsite hard-shell cosmetic case she used whenever she just went away for the weekend. There had been many weekends away this summer. Simplia didn’t know where anything was. She couldn’t remember all the people to whom she owed thank you notes. And there was so much catching up on what she hadn’t been home to take care of.

Sagacia didn’t have time to feel nostalgic about boredom, not with a pile of laundry that needed to be sorted, washed, dried, folded, and repacked for the next out of town drip, which was only a couple of days away.

“I kind of know what you mean,” she told her friend. “It seems all summer we’ve been chasing magic. And finding it! It feels as though we’ve been hopping from one peak mountaintop experience to another, almost non-stop for the past few months.”

“Ain’t that the truth?” Simplia agreed. “And now I just kind of want to come back down to earth and catch my breath. We encountered a lot of magic this summer, but I’m not sure we’ve really had the time and space to experience it, to assimilate it, to learn from it. Hey…as soon as I get these dishes done, I’m going to the library. You want me to pick up anything for you?”

“You could check if we have any mail at the post office,” said Sagacia. “And this might come in handy. I found all this in the back pocket of your jeans.” She held out a wad of receipts, cough drop wrappers, small bills, and plastic. The plastic was a library card.

“How do I manage to even clutter up my pockets! I’m hopeless. I’ll never be organized.”

“One pile at a time,” Sagacia counseled. “Start with this one. See what else is in that little mess.”

Simplia extracted her library card and three dollar bills, she made a pile of cough drop wrappers, and then she started flattening the other bits of paper with the back of her hand.

“Is today the third of the month?” she asked.

“Last time I looked, it was.”

“Well…I don’t know how long this has been riding around in my back pocket, but today, the Magical Third of the Month, is when it came to light. Check it out.”

It was a printout of two text messages, complete with typos, both of them sent from Vasilisa the Wise. One had been addressed directly to the Simpletons, and the other, addressed to Vasilisa, had been forwarded to them.

Simp&Sag–Recd 2day. No time 4 personl reply. Pls run it past Mag. Frnds @ FTL. XOX VtW

The forwarded message read:

New to your site I am interested in folktale metaphore used with cancer Parients lLook fowrard to exploring with you.

“Sweet!” said Sagacia. “I was wondering what the question might be this month.”

“I don’t see a question here,” Simplia objected. “What’s the question?”

Sagacia thought for a moment, and then she said, “Okay, let’s wrap some context around this. We know fairy tales amount to much, much more than the sum of their parts. We know it’s not accidental that similar imagery and archetypes recur in fairy tales from all over the world. We know fairy tales have outlived the cultures from which they sprang forth. Ergo…might this longevity be attributed to healing…”

Simplia finished her friend’s sentence, “…properties. And when you are slapped upside the head with the knowledge that a foreign invader — such as a virulent germ, or a cancer — has hitched a ride on your body, what is more healing than being able to find rhyme or reason for this seemingly random assault?”

“Yep,” said Sagacia. “That’s exactly what I’m thinking, too. So…let’s fix the typos and go see what our magical friends have to say about it.”

Here’s what the Simpletons posted on the Fairy Tale Lobby message board:

Dear Vasilisa the Wise:

I’m new in the neighborhood. I am interested in exploring and discussing ways with which folktale metaphors can be used with cancer patients.  l look forward to exploring with you. — Focused in Fernwood

 

 

 

 

 

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