The Traveling Troupe

Once there was a troupe of actors who traveled from village to village like a merchant who sold emotions instead of wares.  The troupe inspired sparks of joy in the saddest of places and reflected the dangers of aggression to angry villages who tended to be more peaceful afterward.  All across the land the troupe found great success and villages eagerly awaited their return for they were also renowned for their after-parties.

    But then one day, the troupe performed for a village upon which they had no effect at all.  The troupe could not read the audience and this put them in a state of dismay and they noticed their performance suffered for it.  They were used to making a mark on even the blandest of villages and this felt outrageous as a result of their comparison.  Who were these ignoramuses, the actors asked themselves backstage.  

    After the show the audience invited them to the show they put on for themselves once a week that happened to be right after theirs.  The troupe needed to know why this audience did not respond to their act, so they postponed their after-party and quickly accepted.  And the troupe took a seat as the audience. Despite their desire to tear the performance of these novice dunces apart who clearly could not appreciate the sort of worldly entertainment they had brought to them, the actors were driven to mad laughter instead! And they cried the most cathartic tears they had ever had!  

After the show, the troupe praised the villagers and knew they must be the healthiest people they ever met for their village appeared as a result of good hard work and somehow they also entertained themselves at the highest level.  The troupe begged to let them live with them but the villagers politely declined because they had no need for this troupe who demonstrated such an imbalance through their performance.  It was the nicest way they could tell the troupe that they were in fact not good enough for their standards.

And so the troupe traveled on and moved villagers in other villages but their performances did not feel the same. Subconsciously, routines from the village crept into their show but each one mangled up into an unrecognizable lump of half performances. Each show made them feel like a traveling band of old and stale tricks for imbalanced audiences who needed their mediocre entertainment to get through their miserable lives, as they bitterly put it.

They wished they had never performed for that village and became so bitter that they forbade any from talking about the village and its performance as it really had affected them. Sarcasm infected each member of the troupe. They could only appreciate the irony of any situation. And only schadenfreude brought them any comfort. And the more harsh and biting their shows became, the more farcical, the more popular they were throughout the kingdom (except in that one village were they dared not return). They drowned their sorrows in ever more lavish after-parties that became so depraved that one party became their last when it involved debauching the kingdom’s princess for which they were sacrificed as part of a new campaign by the king to return his state to some modicum of purity and what he liked to call good living by burning a select few at the stake.

When the village heard of the poor troupe’s fate, they were relieved that they had not accepted them into their village but they felt deeply sorry for their tragic lives and so they put on a tender show salted with the bitterness of what the troupe had become, as accounts came pouring in from traveling merchants. And the show was so powerful that they decided to travel with it. They moved village after village and when the king happened to see it, it brought him to tears as it struck a nerve with regard to his notions of purity and the imbalances suffered by the troupe so that he demanded that the villagers become the official troupe of the kingdom.

Swinging Wishes

Once there was a magical swing deep in the woods and whenever someone swung on it, one and only one wish was granted. 

A girl swung on it and wished that she were a beautiful princess and as the swing swung she found herself in a castle with everyone calling her their princess.  But she was immature and not ready for such a life. And when the king expected her to marry the ugliest man she had ever seen for some territory to add to his kingdom, she ran away and stumbled into a hard life of trading things for food and a place to sleep and she quickly got a burning illness and died wishing she had never been granted her wish in the first place.

A boy swung into his wish to become a hero.  And the boy found himself thrust into battle for which he was not ready.  The only thing he could think to do in the heat of battle was to throw himself in front of the king and he took an arrow to the heart and died a hero but lived such a short life without savoring any hard won accomplishment.

An old man swung into his wish to be young and healthy again.  And he went with other young people but they didn’t like him because he acted so old.  He went with older people and they didn’t like him either because he looked so young and it reminded them of what they had lost.  And when he witnessed his children pass away, his heart broke for he hadn’t thought of going through that when he made the wish and so he jumped off a cliff.

An old woman swung into her wish to be the most powerful king.  As king, she handed over her power to the queen and commanded the kingdom to obey the transfer of power.  And when the queen assumed the throne, she had the king executed so that he could not try to regain the power he lost.

A man swung into his wish to be the horse of his unrequited love.  He galloped when she requested. He trotted for her. He shook his handsome mane in her radiating presence.  he savored every brush stroke and when she gave him a little heel kick in his ribs he yearned to lick her beautiful toes.  Every sugar cube tasted like bliss as she gazed into his eyes. But when he couldn’t hold it back anymore and advanced on her in the barn, they had to put the crazed horse down.

And there was a woman whose mother always said to be careful what you wish for.  So she swung into her wish to not become anything she wasn’t prepared for. Her wish came too true.  Since she stuck to only what she was ready to do, she couldn’t progress or gain insight through the mistakes her wish forbade her from making.