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.

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.