Once upon a time in a oh so far, and extremely arid land lived a woman. For the sake of this fairy tale we will call her Lucy. Lucy lived a rough life. From the time she was little, life was a struggle. She was a product of her environment, and her lifestyle. Lucy started having children when she was still just a child herself. She has 5 little bumpkins, with no prince charming. Her greatest enemy is a potion that many in her land struggled with. This potion has control over her life, and has caused considerable pain.
One day while Lucy was sitting outside her house a tortoise slowly hobbled by. The tortoise saw on her face that life was hard and she needed hope. He stopped to talk with her because he wanted to help and share with her where the source of hope was found. This tortoise happened to talk because after all, tortoises talk in fairy tales.
“Good day,” he said. She lifted her down trodden head and nodded.
The tortoise continued, “It looks like life has been rough for you.”
Lucy quietly replied, “Life has been hard for me and a lot of it has been because of the choices I have made for myself.”
The tortoise stated, “Our consequences can be difficult based on the choices we make.” Although the tortoise had grown up in a different land he too had lived through consequences of his previous sinful life.
Lucy began to look down at the dirt again and picked up a stick and started drawing in the dirt, no longer acknowledging the tortoise. She was hoping he would leave and stay all at the same time. After an awkward silence the tortoise began to speak again.
“I know someone who can help.”
Lucy had her doubts, but was somewhat hopeful and for some reason had begun to trust in the tortoise in their short time together.
“Yep, but you have to leave your home so we can go to find the Great King.”
“I don’t want anything to do with men.”
“Don’t worry, this one is different.” He is very trustworthy. I was weary to meet him at first too, but trust me he will be able to help straighten out your life and offer you comfort and hope in the gravest of circumstances. I am one of his servants and delight in following after him and the prince, who was wrongly accused and killed. The prince did not stay in the kingdom like most princes do. He became like a servant helping people. He healed the sick, helped the poor, and went everywhere teaching people how to live life and to serve the king.”
Lucy’s curiosity drew her in. “Really? Wow, that doesn’t sound like any kingdom I have ever heard of.”
“What do you say? Follow me to this King?”
“Why not, I need a new life, and there is nothing for me here.”
So Lucy and her 5 children followed the tortoise. With ambition, and optimism filling their eyes they were on their new journey. The tortoise was nervous about the voyage, for he knew it was long, but he kept his hope high as the Prince and King had told him to do.
As the days went by the journey seemed like it would be easier than the tortoise thought. Lucy had obeyed all the rules the tortoise had set for her. There was also a special bounce to her step. It seemed to her like it would be a worry free excursion.
Along the way they would stop to rest and eat. Lucy had nothing so the tortoise always graciously shared what he had, for the King had given him everything anyway. After eating the tortoise would sit beside the cozy warm and bright fire where he would then take out his book the King had written. Lucy had seen him open this book each night. Once he was finished reading he seemed refreshed and ready to tackle the next leg of the journey. After several weeks of this Lucy asked with curiosity, “What is that book you read?”
“This is a letter that the King and Prince wrote together about how to live your life. It teaches me how to serve them better and how to live my life. An instruction book if you will.”
“Will you teach me about the book?”
“I would love to.”
And so as they continued on their journey they would stop at night to eat and rest for the night. During these times of respite the tortoise continued to get out his book and read it to Lucy and her children. They enjoyed the book very much and Lucy started to find hope and healing from her addictive and destructive lifestyle.
After about a month of their travels, Lucy started to desire her potion again. The kind that made her do crazy things.
Lucy asked, “Can you help me to fight the urge?”
“I will show you different instructions in my book, and you can ask the King himself to help you. He is very good at helping people with addictions but it might take quite some time. You have to be patient and listen to ALL the book says to be released from the draw of the potion. You must also listen to me and stay right behind me. There are people ahead in the forest where the road splits who love this potion and it has ruined their lives. All day long they drink it. They can not even think straight anymore because they live their lives for the potion. They even steal things in order to get money for this potion.”
Lucy bent her head for she didn’t want the tortoise to see the shame on her face. She too had stolen from people in order to get money for the potion. Her shame swelled even greater thinking about how she had neglected her children. Now memories came like a dam that suddenly broken. She remembered being under the potion and how she treated her children and what she had done. It was haunting really. She then remembered how she had been many days, maybe even months without the potion. How clear she could think. How her children were happy again. How proud she was. Lucy kept putting one foot in front of the other.
That night Lucy lay awake in the stillness of the night with her thoughts as loud as the marketplace in the morning. She was fighting back urges, and old lifestyles that led to destruction. She liked following the tortoise and liked the friendship they had created. She enjoyed listening to his book. After wrestling with her thoughts and emotions she finally fell asleep.
The next day after taking a short break, the tortoise explained to Lucy that soon the road would get harder. They would get to a road where there were two paths, and after the crossroads there would be many mountains. He reassured her that it was worth it and the end it would be the grandest feeling and experience she had ever known.
Wrestling again with her thoughts she followed behind him.
They soon came to the crossroads the tortoise had talked about. The tortoise started to pick up his pace for he knew he was slow, and also knew that he wanted to get by the unrestrained forest before her temptations for the potion overcame her. His hope was that if he could just get her past the forest the rest of the journey would seem effortless.
After they stepped foot into the forest the tortoise could smell the potion, and what happened next will change the course of the whole story; not allowing it to end in “They lived happily ever after,” as most fairy tales do. A woman came from behind a tree with sly eyes and greeted Lucy and asked her if she wanted to sit and have some potion with her. Lucy looked at the tortoise, then at her children. The tortoise said something out loud, which sounded like he was talking to the King but Lucy couldn’t quite hear it because of her thoughts. The tortoise quickly ran over to Lucy and pulled her by the arm.
“I won’t let you do this. You have come so far," he announced.
“But we still have a long way to go. You said so yourself.”
“It will be a lot of hard work, but remember I told you it would be worth it. Please don’t give up now. You have also come so far. You need a new life, and your kids deserve a better mom.”
“You are right,” And with that Lucy looked up the road and started walking. The tortoise decided he should hold hands with her continuing to give her support for he knew there were many more potion lovers in the forest trying to lure people into their slavery of misery.
They had traveled very far through the forest and it was everything Lucy could do to put one foot in front of the other. The tortoise looked back at her children and they had more than fear in their eyes.
Right before the last tree, out popped two very handsome men, each holding potion in their hands.
She could no longer resist the temptation. She ran over to the men and grabbed the potion, swallowing it down quickly. With every gulp her children felt the pain hit hard, knowing that things were going to go back to the way they were. The men convinced Lucy to go into the woods for more potion, and she accepted despite the pleas from the tortoise and the pain stricken eyes, and scared silence of her children. The tortoise decided he would wait for her hoping that in the morning she would have a change of heart with repentance, but when the morning came nothing, and no one came out of the forest. The tortoise opened his book, and tried to give comfort to the children, and himself. They waited several days, until finally Lucy came stumbling out of the woods. She looked haggard, as those who have been drinking the potion for days naturally do. The tortoise told her it was time to continue the journey. Lucy looked down as she had done before in shame and said in a small voice. “I am not going with you.”
The tortoise fought the tears of disappointment and replied, “So this is the life you would rather have? What about your kids?” They stood looking at each other several moments, and the silence cut deep into the heart of the tortoise knowing there was nothing else he could do. Breaking the quietness the tortoise stated, “Alright then, I can not force you to go. I deeply care about you and your children so I guess the only thing I can do is to love you like the prince of my kingdom loves, and listen to his advice in his book. I will continue to visit you where ever you are. I am always here for you, but I will continue the rest of the journey on my own. Know that this road to the kingdom remains and you are always welcome to follow it.” With that the tortoise turned to leave. His legs felt heavy and part of him wanted to just curl up in his shell for several days, but he knew he had more people to help and more people to take to the kingdom. He also thought he heard the King whisper, “I know how you feel,” and with that the tortoise felt sorrow, thankfulness and comfort all at the same time.
And so this is the part of fairy tales where there is a miraculous change and the problem gets solved, but not in this story. At least not yet.
For school we have been writing Fairy Tales in light of learning about Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I was inspired to write a fairy tale (I know it is more of a Tragic Fairy Tale) to express some thoughts.
Lucia is no longer living with us and it is better for everyone. We no longer were able to help her, but the relationship started to change in that we were enabling her addictions. While we were gone she really spiraled out of control. I would ask that you continue to pray for her and her children. When I visit her she tells me things I want to hear but her actions are not yet different.