The Sheep Who Refused To Fight: A Fable

sheep-goatA goat herder bought a herd of young goats and raised them in a field that he owned. But he was mean and cruel, and enjoyed yelling at them, and chasing them around the field. Then one evening, he left the gate open, and when he came back the next morning, the goats were gone.

The goats had fled to a grassy plain where they could graze. They enjoyed their freedom and had plenty to eat. However, one night, after the goats went to sleep, they were attacked by a wolf. No matter where the herd went, the wolf followed them, and every night the goats wondered which goat he would eat next.

A nanny goat decided to do something about the wolf. She waited until sunrise (when the wolf went to sleep), then she tip-toed away, and walked all day until she came to a flock of sheep.

“A wolf has eaten nearly half of my herd,” the nanny goat said to the sheep. “Can you send your strongest and bravest rams to help us?”

The sheep, both ewes and rams, all replied, “We are peaceful sheep and don’t believe in fighting. But if any goats want to come and live with us, they are welcome here.”

The nanny goat pleaded with the sheep; however, no matter what she said, they would not change their minds, so she kicked the ground and left them.

When the nanny goat returned home, to her great surprise, the young billy goats had grown horns.

That night, she gathered the billy goats together, and they rammed the wolf in the head until he dropped dead.

Several days later, a ewe lamb came to the goats and said, “A pack of wolves has attacked our flock. Can you send your strongest and bravest billy goats to help us?”

The billy goats shook their heads. “No; it’s not our fight.”

The nanny goat reminded her, “None of your rams came when we needed help.”

The ewe lamb pleaded with the goats, yet no matter what she said, she could not change their minds. So she kicked the ground and left them.

When the ewe lamb returned home, she bleated and cried. The wolves were gone, and all that remained of her flock was bits of wool and scattered bones.

The Rabbit That Wasn’t Right In The Head: A Red Riding Hood Story

grey rabbitLong ago, a young girl went for a walk through a dark forest. She wore a red coat with a red hood, and because she wore it all the time, everyone called her Red Riding Hood.

As she turned a corner on the path, she came face to face with a rabbit. The rabbit looked at her; she looked at the rabbit, and the rabbit started to run.

“Don’t be afraid!” Red Riding Hood called out. “I won’t hurt you!”

She ran after the rabbit, weaving around trees and bushes, and they both jumped over a stream.

The rabbit ran as fast as he could; however, Red Riding Hood was the fastest girl alive. (The previous summer, she ran away from a wolf.) She caught up with the rabbit, reached to grab him, but he leaped into a bush—and bam! He smacked head-first into a boulder, fell on the ground, and did not move.

Red Riding Hood dropped to her knees and sighed, “Oh, my! I’m so sorry. I only wanted to be your friend.”

Picking up the rabbit in her arms, she hurried home to her Grandma. They lived in a house a mile from the forest’s edge.

When Red Riding Hood reached the house, she opened the door, and found her Grandma sitting at the kitchen table, drinking tea.

“My goodness!” Grandma said with wide eyes. “Did you kill a rabbit for dinner?”

“No,” Red Riding Hood said sadly. “I ran after him, and he hit his head.”

Then Red Riding Hood started to cry.

“Don’t worry,” Grandma reassured her. “We’ll help him get better.” She folded a blanket, placed it in a wooden box, and Red Riding Hood laid the rabbit down.

A week went by, and they nursed the rabbit back to health. When the rabbit was feeling better, he and Red Riding Hood became good friends, and she named him Thump. They played tag, had running races, and when they were both tired, they sat by the garden and ate carrots and celery.

Then one day Thump said, “I miss my two friends.”

Red Riding Hood took a deep breath and tried to smile. “I’ll take you back to the forest tomorrow.”

The next morning, Red Riding Hood walked with Thump to the forest. When they reached the forest’s edge, she got down on her knees and hugged her friend.

“I’ll miss you,” Red Riding Hood said sadly.

“I’ll visit you again,” Thump promised.

Red Riding Hood waved as he hopped away and disappeared into the trees.

When Thump found his friends, they were happy to see him.

“We thought you were dead!” his best friend said.

“I hit my head on a boulder,” Thump explained. “And then I was rescued by a girl, and she and her Grandma took care of me.”

“What?” his second friend said, “I don’t believe it. People are bad.”

His best friend said, “Yeah, they want to eat us.”

But Thump said, “No; that’s not true. People are good. The only reason they don’t like us is we run away from them. That makes them feel rejected.”

Thump’s best friend said, “That’s crazy talk! People love killing animals. They think it’s a good thing.”

No matter what Thump said, he couldn’t convince his friends that people were good, so he said, “I’m going to prove it to you.”

The next day, Thump and his friends hid in a bush beside the forest path until a boy walked by. Thump jumped out of the bush and said, “Hello.”

And the boy said, “Hello there.”

“Would you like to pet me?” Thump asked.

“Okay,” the boy replied. And Thump sat still while the boy petted him on the head.

After the boy was gone, Thump said to his friends, “I told you! People are good if you are good to them.”

But his best friend said, “That was just a child. Big people are bad.”

So Thump said, “Alright. Let’s wait for a big person.”

The rabbits hid in the bush again, and waited until a young woman walked by.

Thump jumped out of the bush and said, “Hello.”

And the woman said, “Hello to you,” and smiled at him.

Thump smiled back and asked, “Can I have a carrot?”

The woman reached in her bag and gave him a carrot. Then she said, “Have a nice day.” And she walked away.

After the woman was gone, Thump said to his friends, “Do you believe me now? People are good.”

But his second friend said, “Okay. Maybe women are good. But not men.”

His best friend agreed: “Yes; men are evil.”

Thump sighed and said, “You don’t know people like I do. Let’s wait for a man.”

Thump’s friends didn’t want to, but they agreed to hide in the bush one more time.

The rabbits waited until an old man walked by; then Thump jumped up out of the bush and said, “Hello.”

“Hello, rabbit,” the old man replied.

“My friends are afraid of you,” Thump said. “But I’m not.”

The old man, who was a hunter, held a rifle in his hand, but he had forgotten to load it. “Don’t run away, rabbit. Just sit still.”

“Why would I run?” Thump said with a smile. “If I’m nice to you, you’ll be nice to me. I believe animals and people should be friends, not enemies.”

“That’s beautiful,” the hunter replied. “I couldn’t agree more.” He hadn’t eaten all day, and his hands trembled, which made it difficult for him to load his rifle. He dropped one of his bullets on the ground.

Thump said, “I love people, and I love you!”

The hunter finished loading his rifle. “And I love rabbits!” He raised his rifle, took aim, and shot Thump in the head.

The two rabbits in the bush were horrified. Their friend was dead, but they didn’t have time to cry. They both ran for their lives.

The hunter took aim at the running rabbits, fired several shots, but he missed, and the rabbits escaped.

“Oh well,” the hunter sighed. “At least I got one.” Then he rubbed his belly. “I’m starving!”

He picked up the dead rabbit, put him in his knapsack, and when he got home, he made a big pot of rabbit stew.

The Greedy Goose that Laid Golden Eggs: A Fable

greylagIn a kingdom long ago, a Greylag goose, after eating certain flowers and grasses, laid a golden egg in her nest. She lived on an island in the middle of a lake, and built her nest in the reeds.

Every day the goose ate the same flowers and grasses, and every day she laid a golden egg until she had a clutch of five eggs. She sat on them all day long, and when she left her nest to eat, she covered them with sticks.

On the sixth day, a young man rowed his boat to the island. As he walked through the reeds, he saw the goose sitting in her nest.

“Get out of here!” the young man yelled. “I’m taking your eggs.”

The goose stretched out her neck. “No, you’re not!” she cried. “I made them, and they’re mine. I’m not leaving.”

The young man drew his sword. “Then I’ll have eggs and goose for dinner.”

“Oh my!” the goose sighed.

The young man started waving his sword, and the goose, fearing for her life, flew away.

The goose was so upset at being robbed, she flew straight to the king’s castle. But when the guard took her to the throne room, the king was asleep. So she honked until the old man woke up.

“A young thug stole my eggs!” the goose said sadly, bowing before the throne.

The king, whose name was John, shrugged his shoulders. “My people are poor and need to eat.”

“But these aren’t eggs you can eat. They are golden eggs.”

King John’s eyes opened wide, and he ran his fingers through his long grey hair. “Real gold you say?”

“Yes; if I eat certain grasses and flowers, I can lay an egg made of pure gold.”

King John thought for a moment; then he ran his fingers through his long grey beard. “I’ll help you if you help me.”

“You can get my eggs back for me?” the goose asked.

“Probably not,” King John admitted. “But I can protect you from thieves. You can build a nest in the turret of my castle, and my guards will bring you grass and flowers to eat.”

The goose looked at the guard; then she looked at the king. “What do you want in return?”

King John smiled. “Only one out of every ten eggs that you lay.”

The goose looked into the king’s eyes. They were dark, swollen, and half-open, and she didn’t know if she could trust him. She thought long and hard; then finally she said, “Okay. One tenth sounds fair to me.”

And so, King John let the goose live in the turret of his castle where she built the largest nest a goose has ever made. (It was five feet wide and two feet deep.) The guards brought her flowers and grass to eat, and every day she laid a golden egg. She sat on them, stared at them, and sometimes, when no one was looking, kissed them with her beak.

When summer came to an end, the goose had laid one hundred golden eggs, and she gave ten to King John.

The following spring, when the goose started to lay eggs again, she was summoned to see the king. A guard escorted her to the throne room, and when he opened the double doors for her, she bowed her head and walked to the throne.

“My dear goose,” King John said, stroking his long grey beard. “My people are poor, and I need you to give a little bit more to help me provide for them.”

The goose raised her head. “But we agreed to one tenth.”

“That was last year. Times have changed, and I need you to give a little bit more.”

“How much?” the goose asked.

“One fifth.”

The goose looked at the guard; then she looked at King John. “What if I say no?”

“Then you can go back to your island and take your chances with thieves.”

The goose loved her eggs, and didn’t want to lose them, so she agreed to the king’s terms.

The following spring, the goose was summoned again before the king, and he asked her for one fourth. And the year after that, one third.

The fifth year, a guard came to turret and took the goose to see King John. But when she entered the throne room, she did not bow her head.

“Let me guess,” the goose said. “You want to renegotiate with me.”

“Yes, goose,” King John said sternly. “You have much more gold than you need. My people are poor, and I need you to serve the greater good.”

“How much do you want now?” the goose asked.

“Half.”

The goose thought for a moment. “No; that’s too much. I’ve spoken to another king, and he will let me live in his castle for much less.”

“You greedy goose!” King John shouted, his face red with anger.

The goose stretched out her neck. “I made my eggs, not you!” she said defiantly. “And I’ll do whatever I want with them.”

King John turned to the guard. “Seize her and lock her up!”

The guard chased the goose around the throne room, but he couldn’t catch her. Then he drew his sword, but she flew over him, escaped the castle and fled to another kingdom.

With the goose gone, King John took all the eggs that the goose left behind, kept a dozen for himself, and used the rest to provide for his people. However, when the gold ran out, the people were just as poor as they were before.

Love, But Not Marriage: A Short Story

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It was July 1st, 1989, and Johnny was at Skaha Lake. The beach was a hot spot for single people in Penticton, and like a lot of other young men his age, Johnny went there to meet women. The manager of a gym, he had a muscular body, and women were attracted to him, sometimes even older women.

Johnny was about to go for a swim when he saw a young girl crying and screaming, “Mommy! Where are you?!”

He spotted a woman at the other end of the crowded beach, looking around in distress. He hurried to the girl, picked her up, and pointed. “Is that your mother?”

“That’s my Mommy!” the girl cried. She was four years old.

Johnny put the girl down, waved to the mother, and she ran across the sand.

“Thank you,” she said as soon as she reached them. “I fell asleep, and she wandered off.” The girl wrapped her arms around her mother’s waist.

“She’s a beautiful girl,” Johnny said with a smile. “Just like her mother.”

The woman smiled back, and Johnny couldn’t keep his eyes from drifting down. She was in her mid 30s, wore a yellow bikini, and it revealed much more than it concealed.

Johnny asked the girl, “Would you like an ice cream?”

“Yes!” she said excitedly.

“No; we need to go home,” the mother said to her daughter. Then she looked at Johnny. “Thank you though.” And she walked away with her daughter in her arms.

“Out of my league,” Johnny sighed. “Probably married.”

Johnny went for a swim, and he met another woman, smacking into her while she was doing the backstroke. Slim and attractive, with shoulder-length dark hair, she was wearing a red, one-piece bathing suit. She was 25, two years older than him.

“Ow!” she yelled when they collided.

“I’m so sorry!” Johnny said when his blonde head came up from the water. “I’m not the greatest swimmer.”

Johnny could do the front crawl, yet despite his strength, he could only swim 10 minutes at a time, and had to stop to catch his breath. There was something wrong with his stroke.

“No, it’s my fault,” the young woman said, wincing. “I should have seen you.” They were both treading water, near the yellow buoys that marked the area where it was safe to swim.

“Are you a good swimmer?” Johnny asked.

The young woman smiled. “I’m a lifeguard.”

Johnny grinned. “Maybe you could… teach me a lesson. What’s your name?”

“Samantha.”

“I’m Johnny.”

Samantha tried to teach him, but it was no use. He couldn’t improve his stroke. But that didn’t matter to Johnny. After that lesson, they never spent a day apart.

They worked out every day. On weekends, they swam at Skaha Lake, and went hiking in the mountains. After the first snowfall in December, they went skiing at Apex. They both loved to be outdoors, and do things that challenged them physically.

Samantha had been hurt by a lot of guys, some who cheated on her, others who left her for no reason. “I have a hard time trusting guys,” she confessed.

Johnny promised her, “I’ll never cheat on you, and I’ll always be honest in our relationship.”

Samantha wasn’t like the other women Johnny had been with. She made him wait a month before they made love, and insisted that he go see a doctor first. Johnny’s previous girlfriends were wild, often irresponsible, but Samantha didn’t drink much, and when she discovered that Johnny liked to smoke pot, she made him stop.

Johnny felt free with Samantha, to tell her things he had never told anyone. When he was 12, his father came into his bedroom and said, “I have to leave, son, and I don’t know when I’ll be back.” Johnny’s father never came back, and he never sent any money to pay the bills.

Six months went by with Samantha, and Johnny had never been happier. He had everything he wanted in a relationship: They had sex all the time; Samantha was an amazing cook; they never had a fight. But Samantha started to wonder about their future together.

It was New Year’s Day 1990, and Johnny had slept over at Samantha’s apartment the night before. He woke up at 10, and made breakfast for both of them: coffee, scrambled eggs, ham, and toast.

When Samantha sat at the kitchen table, Johnny, playing the role of a waiter, brought her a plate. “Would you like anything else, Miss?” he asked.

“Well, maybe a good morning kiss,” Samantha said, smiling.

Johnny kissed her, and whispered in her ear, “I’m expecting a large tip—later.”

This made Samantha blush. Johnny sat down, and started wolfing down his breakfast.

After taking a bite from her toast, Samantha asked, “What do you think about marriage?” Her parents were happily married, as were her three sisters.

Johnny’s toast got stuck in his throat, and he coughed repeatedly. “I don’t believe in it. You don’t have to get married to prove you love someone.”

Samantha had heard this before, from her previous boyfriends. “You get married to show your commitment to the person you love,” she argued. “If you make a vow to each other, you’re more likely to stay together.”

Johnny scoffed. “It doesn’t mean anything. My father cheated on my mother all the time.”

Samantha knew about Johnny’s childhood, and tried to be sensitive. When his father left, Johnny had to get a part-time job to help his mother pay the bills. He knew more about divorce than marriage.

“I know that many marriages end badly,” she admitted. “But on average, people who get married stay together longer than people who don’t.”

Johnny reached and held Samantha’s hand. “I don’t want to argue about this. I love you, and I’m not going anywhere. Isn’t that enough?”

Samantha didn’t know what else to say, so life went on as before.

But in the spring, to Samantha’s surprise, Johnny made her a proposal.

On Easter weekend, they went out for dinner, and while they were waiting for dessert, Johnny had a big grin on his face.

“What are you smiling about?” Samantha asked.

“I’ve been thinking… Why don’t we move in together? In my trailer.”

“No!” Samantha said, raising her voice. “Definitely not!”

“Why not?” Johnny frowned. “We’ll see each other more, you’ll have more space, and you won’t have to pay rent.”

Samantha shook her head. “I’m not going to live with you until we get married.”

“I told you,” Johnny said, raising his voice. “I don’t want to get married.”

Samantha didn’t know what to say to change his mind, but she knew what she had to do.

After dinner, they did what they always did on Saturday night. They went to Samantha’s apartment, and after watching a movie, Johnny took her by the hand, and led her into the bedroom. Sitting on the bed, Johnny kissed her, but Samantha pulled back and pressed two fingers on his lips.

“I’ve… decided something,” she said with hesitation in her voice. “We’re not making love anymore.”

Johnny was in shock. “What! Why?”

“I’m like a sports car to you.”

“No,” Johnny said, shaking his head. “You’re not an object to me. You’re a beautiful woman.”

“And for ten months, you’ve taken me for a test drive, but I’m not a free ride anymore.”

Johnny pleaded and begged, but it was no use. Samantha wasn’t going to change her mind.

Not having sex was like a drug withdrawal for both of them, but they made it through the spring. On Canada Day—their one-year anniversary—they went to Skaha Lake, and had a picnic on the beach. They sat together on a blanket, ate sandwiches, and drank lemonade. Since they stopped having sex, they no longer saw each other every day. There was a growing distance between them, but they never talked about it.

After a long silence, Johnny said, “I’m not sure about us anymore—if this is working.”

Samantha took a deep breath, and tried to stay calm. “Are you… breaking up with me?”

“I don’t know,” Johnny answered vaguely. “But maybe we need some time apart.”

Samantha felt her throat tighten; she couldn’t speak. She got up and walked into the water.

Johnny stood up and started kicking the sand. He really did care for Samantha, but he was frustrated that she wouldn’t sleep with him. He walked into the water after her. “I was just being honest, OK? Maybe we can work it out.”

Samantha turned to Johnny and said, “I know why you don’t want to marry me.”

“Why’s that?”

“Because you’re waiting for the perfect person!” Samantha said, distraught. “Someone better than me!” Then she swam away.

Johnny swam after her, but Samantha, not wanting to be near him, kept on swimming—beyond the buoys—thinking he would turn back.

Johnny knew it wasn’t safe to swim out that far, and he wanted to stop, but he saw Samantha struggling in the water. Beyond the buoys, there was an undertow from a small river that spilled into the lake, and it was pulling her under.

Johnny swam as fast as he could. When he reached her, he was out of breath and had stomach cramps, and couldn’t keep up his stroke. He took hold of her, swam back a short distance, but they were both sinking, and Johnny went under. Samantha’s head was barely above the surface.

A man in a boat saw them struggling, and came to their rescue. He reached and pulled Samantha out of the water. But Johnny was floating face-down, a hundred feet away.

Kneeling at the edge of the boat, Samantha spotted him and screamed, “Johnny!”

The man took the boat closer, and then he and Samantha lifted Johnny out of the water. He wasn’t breathing, so she performed CPR. She did multiple chest compressions, tilted his forehead back, lifted his chin, pinched his nose, and gave him two rescue breaths. He didn’t respond, so she tried again. He still wasn’t breathing. But on the third attempt, Johnny coughed, water spilling out of his mouth.

When Johnny sat up, Samantha held him, and with tears streaming down her face, she said, “I’m so sorry. It’s my fault this happened.”

Johnny didn’t answer her. He just stared across the lake. Seeing that Johnny was OK, the man in the boat took them back to the beach.

Samantha and Johnny both thanked the man, got out of the boat, and returned to their picnic.

While Samantha was packing up their things, she said, “I won’t talk about marriage again. I promise.”

Johnny was silent for a moment. Then he said, “I was a coward.”

Samantha took his hand and squeezed it. “Johnny, no. You risked your life to save me. You were very brave.”

“When you were drowning,” Johnny said, looking away, “I realized I was afraid … of marrying the wrong person.”

“Because of your mother and father?”

Johnny nodded. After a long pause, he turned to her. “But when I was drowning, I realized what a fool I was. In that moment, I knew—if I lived, I wanted to spend my life with you.”

Johnny held her hands, and got down on one knee. “I really do love you, Samantha… Will you marry me?”

Samantha put her hand on her chest and took a deep breath. “Yes!” she cried, pulling him to his feet. “Yes!”

Johnny kissed her, and they held each other.

A minute later, Samantha spoke softly in his ear: “The reason I planned the picnic today, was to tell you—I’m pregnant.”

Johnny’s eyes opened wide; his jaw dropped; he couldn’t speak. He stepped back.

Finally, he said, “Wow… I’m going to be a Dad.”

Samantha nodded her head, “Yes! You are.”

Then Johnny said, “So, I guess we can start having sex again?”

Samantha shook her head. “No! Not until our wedding night.”

Johnny sighed, opened his mouth to say something, but he didn’t.

Six weeks later, they got married.