Barely Barely Credible
So Barely Credible told the Queen of Hearts that her one and only wish was to live in a princedom where ordinary folks didn’t expect anything, but hoped for it all. She was an ordinary princess—not exceptionally pretty, nor exceptionally bright, nor exceptionally talented. But the young princess could do something exceptionally well—she could imagine. She imagined great reversals. Mornings where the sun would be prized for its warmth. Full days without want. A place where the weak would be made strong. Times where people would divide their shares. Where real life would pause its frantic bid for fortune. But of course the townsfolk scoffed at Barely Credible saying, “What is fortune without misfortune?” And they called her barely credible.
Nothing could be that simple.
Yet, this was a tragic kingdom.
For each heart lacked sympathy for one another, and each heart was bowed down with contempt. For though they expected profitable things, each day their hearts broke anew, for they feared. They feared hope, believing hope to be a great and deceitful evil.
However, each day, Barely Credible went about her make believe chores bedding out the flowers, butchering the sheep, milking the goat herd, and gathering eggs; and each day she wandered the kingdom promising flowers so pleasant they conjured loveliness, liver so fresh it still bled, milk so true that it tasted of weed, and eggs so fertile they were beginning to hatch. And on her journey through the marketplace, the townsfolk, who, by the way, desired her promises beyond reason, would turn a blind eye to such imaginings, they would hide their laughter, and they would move to give her the risky ground lest they countenance her countenance for her countenance was filled with happiness when happiness was not to be found.
So sure they were of their evident lives, the people went about expecting and demanding their lot—as fate would have it. Need it be said that the fortunate who expected more fortune to come were more privileged than the unfortunate who expected less.
In order to sure up their strength, the strong went into league forming unions to defend their rights, schools to pass down their convictions, guilds to preserve their cry, gangs to ensure their quarrels—arguing with numbers, words, clubs, knives, guns even—to support their values, their futures, their prosperous hungry lives. And the poor did their part—stammering and stuttering through the scraps—looking for cakes in the remains of the day.
Inevitable—the mayor—headed the list of the assured. But Inevitable was to be pitied for he lay slumped on his own honor’s chair—mired in silence—having been struck by the fright of his own approaching mortality—a blow that was met with terror, particularly in the minds of the affluent, for his chance—and in like manner, their own chances of succumbing to that costly mortality, was unavoidable.
Unavoidable for certain—Tuesday, who carried the day, confirmed their worries shouting in the marketplace—professing even—‘life is fleeting—food scarce—no bones about it.’ They need only purchase his ideas, his wares, his pipe dreams—live today, pay Tuesday. ‘Course Tuesday salted away their silvery interests becoming the most wealthy, which made him the most reliable, and most sought after resident in the land. So regal and so respected was he that the men and also the women desired his regard, but they each desired his regard only for themselves asking who Tuesday prized most in all the kingdom.
This contest devastated the land causing the weak to become overwrought, when push goes to shove, to rise up and break down the comfortable leagues, the unions, schools, guilds, gangs even in a bid for stores, which, however fragmented, looked to be a lot like a charming conformity—Topple the Richest!
So distracted were they that when the Queen’s decreed half her fortune to the land worthy of her daughter’s hope, they quarreled—why not fifty-one percent. For money takes money.
And the hungry remained hungry; the sated, sated. For there was just so many cakes, only so much ale.
So life became.
The sun continued to be valued for its color. The poor wandered in want. The weak were weak; the strong, strong. And poverty multiplied. Was there anything or anyone to give them pause? To bang the gate shut on their greed for the fat life or lack of it?
No. Imagining otherwise was absurd, and came from a simple woman who was barely credible.
And then one morning life went terribly wrong—it was in the rising of things—the sun didn’t rise; the creek did. So when the cold rains came, the townsfolk, who had here-to-fore concerned themselves with keeping their feet dry, belly’s full, panicked, and they asked a critical question, “What will become of us?”
In the bitter darkness that ensued, expectations failed as the cold crept in. Days and days of uncertainty—the rich-poor were forced to muck about same as the poor-poor—looting the stores, the cupboards, the very corners of the kingdom for a morsel of food. Misery, anguish and mostly despair.
When their end was in sight, and in a first ditch effort for real relief, the bewildered townsfolk, bearing torches, lanterns, lamps, flashlights even, went to the courts, to Inevitable, the mayor, to seek a reversal to their suffering.
However, Inevitable was in the final hours of his inevitable life, and the grave words of the dying man hung like light in the air—for what soul does not speak as a Prophet when lying upon a deathbed.
Thus, staring into the conflict—he spoke of evident things, “My fellow citizens,” he said. “It is high time to reconsider.”
That’s what he said.
And the wealthy, terrified of change, cried out, “We have already reconsidered, we have assessed and reassessed. There are no profits!”
So too, the poor, familiar with pain, cried out, “There never were profits! Moreover, we will gladly revisit our former poverty, which, though penniless, was substantial, and looked a lot like luxury.”
And thus, together, they jeered the old man.
However, the recently wise, but very tired magistrate continued, “Too many years have been spent in darkness.”
Now the wealthy cried out, “But sir, our brightness is gone, not a glimmer of gold remains!” For they supposed the mayor to speaking of wealth.
And the poor cried out, “We have learned to walk in shadow, leave us alone!” For they supposed the mayor to be speaking of gloom.
And so, they continued their match, crying that the old man had lost his sport, game, turn, spell, wits even.
Hearing these words, the old man closed his eyes on the frantic crowd—for he supposed life as it could be, and when he opened his eyes, he said, “It is true, we have been fooled by gold, we have stumbled in sorrow, but, just imagine, we may continue in joy.”
The spirited townsfolk, though curious, couldn’t imagine. Puzzled, they turned to fix their lights on his confusing face—wondering of whom the teacher spoke?
And the old man, knowing their turmoil, persisted, “We comprehend poverty because we have squandered possibility.” And he closed his eyes again, whispering, “Things could be otherwise.”
The throng, starving for answers, pressed forward, straining their ears in order to comprehend. But the quiet telling caused them to gather, to risk contact, that they might hear, that they might know and understand this unexpected charge. And they wondered in unison as to the meaning of these words for they were astonished that one, could speak for all, and they began to quake, marveling at this report, “What is the meaning of these words?”
And together, they were dumb-founded in an awe-filled hush.
And silence filled their wondering.
And in that awful quiet, they sought out each other, and the sun, prized for its warmth, glimmered through the haze; and the people looked upon each other; they gazed into each other’s eyes, and when they saw each other, they cared for the lot, and in their caring, they recognized their part.
And they said with one accord, “We have known misery, for we have both caused it and have accepted it. We have known anguish, for we have both caused it and accepted it. We have known despair, for we have both caused it and accepted it.”
And their grief filled the land for they mourned through the day and throughout the night begging for solace.
Barely Credible, seeing their distress, set out to the village repeating the promise of liver so fresh it still bled, milk so true that it tasted of weed, and eggs so fertile they were beginning to hatch.
And the villagers looked. And when they looked upon the child, they saw her countenance. “Imagine,” they said. “Could such a risky happiness truly be found?”
And in their imaginings, they saw the shame of yesterday’s convictions, yesterday’s divisions, yesterday’s follies, and they desired change.
And so grand was their longing and so great their harmony, that they roared their wishes in unison, saying, “We are ready for incredible reversals.”
And then the sun paused.
The sun paused on its journey across the sky, shining equally on the weary townsfolk, baking their cakes, fermenting their ale. And each person felt the warmth, and they prized its golden rays.
And so it was.
And the people, being acquainted with despair, learned from the past, lived for the day, and hoped for the morrow chancing their fate, fortune, luck, lives, hearts even.
So, the empire flourished.
And the queen, who promised them part, gave them the whole.
And the whole hoped for hope, and in their hoping, they risked nothing.