The Queen’s Walnuts

Once there was a queen who built a castle large enough to fit her entire kingdom in it.  Every one of her subjects had rooms more spacious than they had ever known. Everyone seemed to have as much space as he or she desired.  There was even more space in the castle for her kingdom to grow as big as she wished.

Until the day everyone found out the purpose of the castle, and then it felt like it shrank to the size of a walnut.  In fact, she had gotten the idea from the chambers of a walnut she had cracked open once on a lonely night. The queen had corridors, peepholes, and secret doors with which she could access any room whenever she wished.  And so she enjoyed slipping into the intimate spaces of her subjects and considered them all her little walnuts, to be watched and visited as she pleased.

She interrupted dinners and interesting conversations.  She popped in during heartfelt confessions. She even stepped in on lovemaking a few times.  Of course, this angered her subjects but they did not show their anger for the queen had provided them with this place to live and their abandoned villages were in ruins now.  

Eventually, though, they stopped paying attention to her spying and did their best not to care about her intrusions anymore.  They carried on with their lives because they figured she would eventually too. But the Queen hated this feeling of becoming a ghost in her own castle and found it insulting, so she kicked them all out.  And they had to return to their villages and rebuild them. And they bonded from their mutual needs and they vowed to never return to the Queen’s castle again.  

Feeling even more like a ghost in her empty castle, she went from village to village to beg them to move back in.  Whatever village she visited would empty out. Everyone hid from her. She banged on doors and demanded that they let her in. Not a door opened. And not a subject could be found.  So she decided to go back to the castle and get her guards to crack these huts wide open and make them move back in with her. But the guards had moved out of the castle too and she did not know where they had gone either.  

All of her servants had disappeared as well.  She swore she could hear them in the corridors and sometimes she’d chase after them but never catch them.  The empty kingdom felt to her like when a walnut shell gets cracked too hard and all the nuts shoot out and hide in places where they cannot be found even though you know they are there somewhere.

Prison Walls

Once there was a prison built with only one wall dividing the guards from the unruly prisoners.  The longer the prisoners languished in this holding tank, the more they yearned for walls to separate them from the other prisoners.  They complained to the guards. This complaint pleased the guards and they laughed off the request.  

The prisoners wrested stones loose from the floor and piled them into a wall.  When the guards saw them digging out the stones, they accused them of revolt, and made the prisoners put the stones back in the floor.  

The next day, the prisoners took off their clothes and draped them for barriers.  And the guards punished them for their nakedness and made them put their clothes back on.  

After that, the guards found the prisoners sitting in the order of a grid on the stone floor.  And when the guards asked them why they were sitting so orderly together, the prisoners refused to speak.  This went on for months until the guards felt so uncomfortable with the silence of the prisoners sitting in unison that it gave them nightmares.  The wild fantasies of what the prisoners must be plotting drove the guards mad.

Out of anger, the guards built walls around each prisoner.  After the prisoners got what they wanted, they broke their silence and became unruly again.