Your prompt for #JusJoJan the 14th and Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “once upon a time.” Start your post with “Once upon a time,” then write whatever comes to you, whether it be fact or fiction. Have fun!

Once upon a time, a time very much like this one, only a bit sideways and at an angle, there was a very large pond. It was so large that it was called, creatively enough, The Pond. The Pond was so large that you could only see the other side of it if you stood at the very edge of the water, teeter on your tippy toes — which would of course get quite damp and so you probably should not wear your best shoes to do this — and held your hand to your forehead like the bill of a baseball cap. There would rarely be someone on the other side standing on their tippy toes, but if there were, they could see you, too.

The sun would come up in the morning, in the east, just like it does today. To absolutely no one’s amazement, the sun would set in the west. The sun did just those things, day after day, for quite a few years. On the eastern shore lived a prince in an old stone castle, and while the castle was large, made of thick stone walls topped with crenellated battlements with a tendency to leak, the prince lived alone except for the company of a rather large, scruffy black cat with amazing blue eyes. The prince called the cat Moggy and the cat called the prince… well, nothing, being a cat. The prince, being a prince, had only the best quality of shoes, and so he never ventured to the very edge of the pond, let alone tippy toed his shoes into the water. He didn’t see to the other shore.

Over on the western shore, a princess lived with an uncommon companion, a barn owl. Princesses can be a bit eccentric like that, in fact, it is rather expected. She certainly would never dampen her toes with pond water, so like the prince on the eastern shore, this princess was also unaware of the state of the opposite shore.

Both the prince and the princess were independent sorts, and other than having their manses and lives served by staff from a local village discretely out of sight and not too close to The Pond, neither saw another soul apart from their animal companions. (Of course the companions had souls!)

Day after day, the prince would strum his guitar, playing gloomy folk songs, full of tragedy and misfortune. Moggy enjoyed listening to the guitar while it was being tuned, and then he’d fall asleep in the guitar case. On sunny days, Moggy would wander to the top of the battlements and chase sunbeams before napping on the sun-warmed stones, while the prince would read the newspaper, mutter about the numpties in power, and drink tea.

Day after day, the princess would drink many cups of coffee and then spend hours writing stories that began with “Once upon a time…” which no one would read, but she felt compelled to write anyway. Her staff would leave her recordings by Taylor Swift, and she would spend hours listening to the same songs about antiheroes in purple hazes. She would sing along loudly, in a key that hasn’t been discovered yet, but since the barn owl slept during the day it didn’t mind. The princess would just mutter about numpties, in general.

Even though playing existentially depressing tunes pleased the prince, just as singing non-existent notes pleased the princess, and everyone enjoys grumbling about numpties, the two were lonely. In the evenings, right before bedtime, they would sigh and wish things were just a wee bit different. They decided, quite independently of the other, that they weren’t getting any younger, and many a prince and princess had, over the course of history, become monks and nuns, respectively. Why shouldn’t they? “I shall as well!” they each exclaimed one week, and so they did, only not officially, because that would mean this tale would end right here — which it obviously does not.

One particularly fine afternoon, the barn owl got an early start to looking for mice snacks. Owl flew further from home than usual. He flew clear across The Pond. From the air he spotted a furry black lump highlighted in a sunbeam, high on top of an isolated castle. Owl flew closer to investigate, and landed near the fur, but up on top of a crenel. He made a little screech, which startled the fur, which of course was the sleeping Moggy. Seeing the beautiful shining white Owl, he sat up and with his piercing blue eyes staring at Owl, silently questioning its existence. The owl, stared back. Staring happened for hours, then Owl flew back to the west.

Owl was cautious, curious and wise. The next day he flew back to the castle, but he stopped before the walls, snagged a mouse snack, and flew to the battlements. Moggy had hoped the Owl would return, he had enjoyed the hours of staring the day before. Owl flew near, but not too near Moggy, and dropped the mouse snack right in front of Moggy and then perched atop a crenel again. Moggy toyed with the snack appreciatively.

Over many months the two became fast friends. They shared many things in common, not the least of which were mouse snacks. Owl and Moggy swapped snack stories, claw cleaning tips, and information on their human companions. They were both keen observers and realized that if they enjoyed socializing that their humans might benefit similarly. The problem was how to get the prince and princess to meet, considering their declared monk and nun status, their preoccupations with numpty muttering, and unwillingness for soggy shoes. The two chewed over the problem with a prodigious amount of mouse snacks.

Then, on the magical 175th visit, the two hit upon a plan. It was ambitious, but “it just might work,” said Moggy. Moggy would need to make the prince think the cat had gotten himself lost. Owl worked Moggy’s collar off his friend. Moggy went down the stairs to kick cat litter all over the floor to make a statement, ate all of his kibble, and tipped the water bowl over. The prince would need to attend to this, which would, they hoped, prompt the prince to think, “Where is that damned cat, anyway?” Meanwhile, Owl flew off with the collar.

Owl fluttered around the princess. “What have you got in your talons, my dear?” The owl dropped the collar in the princess’s outstretched hand. “This is a cat collar. Some poor kitty must have lost this. Maybe the kitty is lost, too! Oh, this is horrible. Look! There’s an address on the back of the tag. ‘Moggy’ lives at ‘the castle on the other side of The Pond.’ “

“You did a good thing, Owl. I will contact the owner!” The princess went down to the dock, with Owl flying above. There was a conveniently located boat with a villager there to man it. The princess daintily embarked on her first trip ever to the other side of The Pond. Her heart was fluttering, and her face showed her concern over the poor missing feline.

When she arrived at the castle, bearing the collar, the frantic prince was beside himself with worry. It was indeed Moggy’s. The princess tried to console him, which was appreciated by the distraught prince. Meanwhile, Owl roused Moggy from his napping spot, and so not to prolong his human’s worry any further Moggy casually sauntered over to where his human was fretting. He did a very nicely done rub on the prince’s pant leg, then plopped down, stuck his left rear leg straight up in the air and proceeded to lick his butt… loudly. Owl blinked very hard.

The prince was overjoyed. He invited the kindly princess to join him for tea, and she agreed even though she didn’t have the heart to tell him that she didn’t like tea. Like their animal companions before them, the prince and princess quickly learned they had many things in common (though mouse snacks and haggis were not among them). They learned they had both taken unofficial vows of chastity. They dropped those quickly. This gave them something to do between complaining about the political numpties. They learned that sometimes, even if it means getting your shoes wet, that it is worth the risk to look outside of your comfortable castle, and it really pays off to have smart animals around. Everyone lived happily ever after, except for the mouse snack population.

The. End. For. Now.
Karma, baby.

Featured image Photo by Brian McGowan on Unsplash


    1. 🤗Thank you, and as I said in the comments above, I had so much fun writing this. I kept sticking real life bits in it, while trying to keep it in fairy tale land. ♥


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