I have been reading many fairy tale retellings lately, so I decided to try my hand at writing my own. I haven't thought of a name for it yet, but I was thinking I might go with something along the lines of "Kelly B and the Cell Phones Three." What do you think?
Once upon a time, there was a lonely man, and he lived in the middle of a field. On one side of his house was a river with water not fit to drink, filled with fish so bony they were not fit to eat.
Every morning the man rose at dawn, went to work, and stayed there until sunset. He was So Very Important that, when a peddler offered him a magic box that would connect him to all the townspeople, he traded all he had to buy the box.
"Beware," said the peddler. "You might think this box will make your life easier, but in fact, it will cause you infinite complications."
But the warning fell on deaf ears because the man was, quite literally, hard of hearing.
At first, the box was wonderful. The man talked to his friends when they were far away. He spoke to his sister, who lived on the other side of the mountains. He spoke to his wife and children while he was away from them. But then he began to notice something.
The box seemed to vanish at the oddest moments. When he thought he'd placed it on the table, he would return to find it gone. But the box was so precious to the man, he would search for hours until he found it once more and placed it securely in his pocket. But when the man reached into his pocket to retrieve the box, he found it had disappeared once more.
Moreover, the box developed the habit of slipping from his grasp. So the man searched far and wide until he found a special sheath in which to store the box by his side, so it would be ready at any time he might need it. Just as he relaxed and returned to his labors, the sheath snapped from his belt and this happened.
Distraught, the man searched far and wide until he found the peddler once more. Holding out his hands, he showed the peddler what had become of the box and began to plead with the peddler for help.
"I must have another of these magic boxes," the man said. "I will do whatever you ask. I will pay you anything."
The peddler smiled sadly and presented the man with a second magic box. "Have a care," the peddler told him. "You may believe that this box will serve you well, and that it will ease your worries. But in fact, your worries will grow ever greater as long as you keep it with you."
But the man was already gone.
Months passed. The man clung to the box, hardly noticing the worry in his wife's eyes or the dark glances of his children. One day, the man went on a journey. Before he left, he polished the box until it shone and promised his family that he would use it to speak to them while he was far away.
After crossing the known world, the man arrived at a little house by the sea. The man was so happy to reach his destination that he leapt into the clear blue water and let it rush over him. The box, in his pocket, was covered with the water. When the man walked back out of the waves, he discovered that the box's magic had been reclaimed by the sea.
Distraught, the man returned home and searched far and wide for the peddler. When he found him once more, he explained what had happened and the peddler nodded gravely.
"Please," the man begged.
The peddler handed him another box. This box was even more beautiful than the last, with a shining surface that seemed to come alight at his touch. The man was filled with joy.
Once again, the peddler warned the man, "This box will make you think you are happy. But the box deceives you."
The man nodded distractedly. The peddler smiled sadly and wheeled his cart away.
This box never left the man's side. It was as if it had been made for him. With the box in his hands, the man spoke to all his friends, even while he toiled. He was never lonely. He was at peace.
One day, the man put the box in a place of honor in his home, high above him on the window ledge where it would be bathed in light. Beneath the window, there was a sink where water could be pumped into the kitchen. The man smiled at the box and was pleased by the way the light sparked off its surface. He was blinded by its beauty.
He went into his room to recover from his labors. But while he slept, the man's friends tried to call to him through the box, and the box shook with the effort. It fell from its resting place and landed with a plop-clink into the water. There it sat.
Two hours later, the man returned from his slumber only to find the box had vanished. He searched far and wide until he looked into the sink water and saw the box resting beneath the surface. With great sorrow, he removed it.
He packed his belongings and went in search of the peddler, but no matter how far he traveled, he could not find the peddler or his cart. It was as if he had vanished without a trace, taking his wares with him.