“You need to follow the yellow brick road,” someone told me. “That’s where your dreams will all come true.”
I googled yellow brick road and it brought up an album by Elton John. It appears his dream has come true, but I was actually hoping for a successful career on Wall Street.
So I programmed the navigation system in my car for “yellow brick road” and followed the voice carefully. However, when the synthetic lady told me to head west on County Road #64, a narrow lane, I got a bit nervous. What kind of career awaits me out here in the boonies?
I abandoned the car when the country road morphed into Shady Trail. After a thirty-minute hike I’m seeing a shining path ahead, but it doesn’t look like yellow bricks. Still, I kind of like the peace and quiet here. Perhaps I’ll become a famous naturalist.
You are to write a picture to go with the following image. Your story must be between 50 and 250 words, in 50 word increments. (so 50, 100, 150, 200 or 250 words). Mine is exactly 200. And you must use the following line in your story: “If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained.”
― Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book
“Can’t you just see it?”
“Nope. Nope. Never.”
“Hey, where’s your fighting spirit? This site would be perfect.”
“Do you have any idea how much opposition we’d face?”
“It may not be as bad as you think. Listen, Ashton, if you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained.”
“And moving all these graves… We can’t just pave over them. The descendants will howl.”
“I don’t know about that. People are tired of this old mess — they’d be delighted to see something attractive. We’ll set the stones along one edge and this can be the new Fifth Street Park.”
“Well, that’s one option… And the church would be easy enough to knock down. Someone’ll be delighted to salvage the beams and windows.”
“Now you’re talking. I’m positive that if we offer the City Council a high-rise hotel here, stressing the revenue potential, and throw the promise of a park, they’ll get on board.”
“Okay. I’ll draw up a plan and get an architect’s rendering to present. But you’re the spokesman for this project, Lance. You deal with hostile descendants, reporters, and feisty seniors from the Historic Preservation Society threatening us with their brollies.”
I was reading an interesting anecdote yesterday which reminded me a lot of a story my mother-in-law would tell. The central character in yesterday’s tale was a Frenchman and tells how he gave up on Communism. When he discovered that, if/when Communism came into effect in France, he was going to lose half the francs he had saved, he dropped out of the Party.
The tale Mom told must have been adapted to the Canadian prairies. Apparently back in the 1920s and 30s, the goals of Communism sounded quite noble and had a fair bit of appeal to some average working people. Mom said it was quite common to hear people going on about how communism could make the world — or at least some people’s lot in life so much better.
As mom told it, two farmers were visiting and the one — I’ll call him Percy — was going on enthusiastically about how things would change for the better once the Communists took over in this country. Which they surely would, he assured his neighbour. I’ll call him Bert.
“There’ll be no more poverty, no more crime,” Percy was saying. “Everyone will work for the good of all. Everything will be shared equally. All those farmers with big herds and lots of land will have to share with the guy who has none.”
“So what you’re saying is that, if you had ten sheep you’d give me five,” Bert asked.
“And if you had four cows, you’d give me two?”
“Sure thing. That’s exactly how Communism will work. Everyone will have the same,” Percy assured him.
“And if you had two pigs, you’d give me one.”
“Yes, of course I… Now hold on here, Bert! You know I have two pigs!”
According to Mom, this was where Communism as a theory ran smack into the reality of human nature. People who have nothing are quite ready to receive, but as soon as they have to give up something themselves — like their second pig — the whole scheme breaks down.
In more recent years I read the account of a girl in the eastern States whose parents, along with many others during the 1930s, were so enthused about this ideology that they sent their children to a summer camp where socialism was taught and practiced as a model for future society. (Or where children would be indoctrinated, if you want to be a skeptic.)
The children at this camp would receive packages from their parents at home, and the rule of the camp was: “Whatever you get, you share with the others in your cabin.” One day she received a package from home and opened it. Her eyes lit up. Among other things her mother had sent along the girl’s favorite candy bar.
She reached for it eagerly, then thought about the sharing rule. She imagined her bar split six ways; it would give each of the cabin mates — herself included — a very small piece. Yes, she was supposed to share. But it was her bar; her mother sent it for her. Furtively she slipped it into her sweater pocket and hurried outside behind the cabin. Renouncing socialism, she ate the whole bar herself — and enjoyed every last bite.
Almost all of us seem to recognize that some government-enforced “public sharing” (like income tax) is necessary to keep things running efficiently. Communes may work for a time because membership is — at least initially — a voluntary thing. But Communism, that great theory of universal brotherhood and sharing, has proven unsuitable to human nature. And human nature has been a fairly constant thing through the years. 🙂
Here’s my response to Crimson’s Challenge #32. The set-up of this door, with such a minimal building behind, made me think of a prop in the scene in a play. So I ask, did the scene I’ve concocted ever happen in real life?
Did It Ever Happen…?
“Alright, Vivian. We want ecstasy of escape, fear of being followed. Clark, swashbuckling do-or-die.” Irvin looks up. “Heavens, no windy puffs, pl-e-e-ease.”
“Cameramen, focus on the door — no bushes. Got that extra angle covered?
Irvin claps. “Places, everyone.”
A moment of general shuffling, then, “ACTION!”
The door’s flung open. Bravado-perfect, Clark sweeps his maiden off her feet and steps outside. He takes six steps, trips over camera cord and goes sprawling. Vivian shrieks, tumbling from his arms.
“Cut! Cut,” Irvin bellows, throwing up his hands in despair.
“Well, we got one thing right,” a cameraman comments. “No breeze.”
I am very late posting this response to last Wednesday’s 100-word challenge, but when I saw the photo this is the story that came to mind. You can check out the other responses at Crimson’s Creative Challenge.
A great day for boating, Jayson thought. And good riddance to that nuisance.
Venice gazed out to sea. “Hope he doesn’t get lost.”
“He’ll be in heaven.”
“I hated to let him go. Charlie’s so cute — in his own way.”
Jayson rolled his eyes. Vicious little monster.
“Such a long way. And what if he meets a shark?”
“Charlie’s a fighter.”
Venice waved one last time, wiped a tear and climbed into the truck.
Someday Jayson might tell her that piranhas, freshwater fish, can’t survive in salt water. Today he’d let her picture Charlie merrily swimming back to the Amazon.
By and large, I strongly oppose dumping unwanted pets. This awful practice has caused so many environmental issues and introduced invasive species, to the detriment of native creatures. And fish are easily enough euthanized in a merciful way. But when it comes to piranhas, please leave them in the Amazon! 😉
This is my contribution to this week’s Creative Challenge, a weekly feature on crimsonprose’s blog. Initially 100 words too long, it took some whittling to get it down to 150 words. I’ll call my story…
Reice approached the building cautiously. Was she too late? Collin had sounded so broken…coming here to think, he’d said…maybe end it all. What tragedy had brought her usually upbeat friend so low?
She had to find him. Hearing sounds, she started toward the door. Now he was calling her, but something stopped her. Reice despised this paralyzing fear!
Suddenly several guys rushed from the building. Before she could react they’d grabbed her and tied her hands and feet. “Collin,” she screamed.
He stepped forward. “I knew you’d come,” he sneered. “Sucker for a sob story. Now you’re going with these chaps and…”
“No, she’s not.” They all turned toward the voice and several policemen emerged from the woods. “Anyone who moves will be shot.”
“Grandpa!” Reice gasped.
“Your Mom overheard the conversation, Reice. She didn’t trust this guy.”
Collin’s pals scowled at him. “A copper’s granddaughter. Great move!”