Sunday, December 5, 2021

A Modern Fairy Tale by Virginia Colwell Read



Once upon a time in the fair land of Paradise, the matter of a new bridge on a well-traveled thoroughfare was brought before the ruling oligarchy. The vested body agreed on the need for a new bridge. They consulted with engineers, architects, and designers form many far-away lands. Paradise should have a magnificent bridge with fancy underpinnings to replace the old, worn-out bridge.

A grandiose bridge was not what the people of the realm had in mind. They thought a new bridge would be fine as long as its design was realistic and there were shells in the treasury to pay for it.

The people addressed the ruling magistrates and asked the question, “Where are the shells to pay for this new bridge?” The vested officials answered, “Don’t you know the fashion these days? Borrow other people’s shells.”

The people communicated their displeasure with this answer by convening multiple committees, panels, and forums with much vociferation. Into the resulting hullabaloo rushed some knights in rusty armor ready to do battle. They carried the day and a new court replaced the former one.

These knights agreed to build a new, less extravagant bridge. Throughout the realm there was rejoicing. Despite the people’s concern over disrupted traffic, dirt, noise, and detours, the people knew they needed a new bridge. And so it came to be. Once again, Paradise was–well… Paradise.

Jubilation was short lived. Before the embers had settled, a witch in a black hat arrived and announced that additional shells would still be required to pay for the new bridge. Once again the question of where to find the needed shells arose. This concern with the state of the treasury’s coffers caused more deliberations.

Now it so happed, that a friendly giant who lived on the major thoroughfare wanted to renovate his castle. His plans caused more confrontations and contentious feelings in the realm until the friendly giant offered to supply enough sea shells to complete the new bridge. He wanted to do to this because he loved Paradise and wanted everyone to be happy. Everyone was happy. The new bridge would be built without further delay.

The noise, dust, dirt and inconvenience of restricted lanes and detours during construction of the new bridge did not make everyone happy for long. They suffered with patience thinking of the day when the inconveniences of constructing the new bridge would be over.

In time, the completion of the new bridge was finished. The event was celebrated with much fanfare and approbation and a nice, ribbon-cutting ceremony capped the occasion. The people were delighted with the new bridge. The return of pleasant driving on the thoroughfare made life in Paradise, once again, a paradise.

Well, almost! They had forgotten about the renovation of the friendly giant’s castle.

Once again the heavy construction equipment, the dump trucks, the supply trucks, the utility trucks, and vans rumbled up and down the thoroughfare to the friendly giant’s castle over the wonderful, new bridge.  Once again the people lived with the daily and nightly noise and dust. Once again they were restricted on travel over the new bridge. They were no longer happy.

However, the happy giant was happy to be able to accommodate more guests inhis remolded castle. The various guilds, merchants, real estate folks, the builders, and construction companies, were happy with thoughts of more shells in their coffers. The vested officials were happy because they had both a new bridge and shells in their treasury.

And the new bridge?”  Not even a year old, it had morphed into an old, well-used, battle-scared bridge with a greatly reduced life expectancy. The cries and moans of the people could be heard throughout the land once again. They asked, “Why did we build our new bridge before the construction of the giant’s castle. Why didn’t we wait and built it afterwards?”

The only answer they received was a shrug, and the friendly giant declared he would repair any damage to the worn-out, new bridge.

Unlike in ancient fairy tales, there was no good fairy to wave a magic wand over the worn-out bridge and turn it back into a splendid new bridge.










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