Tell A Tale in 500 Words

The Undesirables By Cecily Fasham

‘Change is a difficult thing.’ Says the Politician. His smooth words and easy, empty smile conceal a nervousness only betrayed by the way he is fiddling with his wedding ring, twisting it up and down the finger of his left hand. He is met with silence. ‘I can’t just make change happen like magic. People must be persuaded, and of course one must pacify the back benches and the opposition. One must focus on the issues the people want…they aren’t really interested in change, that’s the thing. They just like you to take a few less dollars out of their pockets, hurt the people one step down and two steps up from them instead. They like to be told they’re hard-working people, they deserve better, etc. You know how it is, ladies. You are, after all, women of the world.’

‘Go away, then.’ A woman’s voice says bitterly from the shadows.

Sitting in the Politician’s chair, the priest looks earnest and apologetic, his hands clasped against the knee of his robe. ‘I can’t change anything.’ He tells the people in the darkness. ‘Only God can change. And of course I can’t tell him what to do, oh dear me no, that simply isn’t how it works. I can try and petition him… But really what change needs is money, you know, and that’s really not my area. I am in the world, yes, but I’m not of it… God will judge it in the end. It’s really not my place to get involved. Render unto Caesar and all that. Besides, I mean, not to put to fine a point on it, but things as they are are rather good for me and I wouldn’t want to put a spanner in the works, if you know what I mean.’

A sigh from the darkness. ‘Go away, then.’

‘Change?’ says the Teacher, sitting straight-backed in the chair in the white shaft of light. ‘That isn’t my area. I’m not in charge. It’s all about the three Rs and edicts handed down from on high. Anyway, what children need isn’t change. It never has been! The world changes, yes, but I give them the standard tools. They don’t change, as far as I’m aware. The children can adapt themselves, can’t they? I must do things as I always have, or they’ll never pass the tests!’

‘Go away, then.’

The chair is empty. The lights turn on, and the aged, ugly faces of the women emerge. ‘It’s up to us.’ says Mother Goose.

Unanimous agreement.

‘We tell the fairy tales, then, to the children in their cradles. We subvert, hide our meanings in forests and castles, disguise ordinary people as princes and witches and frogs. If we pretend all this is fantasy, we can say what we want. From our nursery dominion, our girls grow up with the tales, tell them on, and change will happen.’ As usual, as ever, the undesirable women hitch up their skirts and get on with working the change.

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