Do they still do Greek myths in school? I know I read some in my primary school days, but I never read any to my students when teaching.
The two stories I remember most from school were of King Midas and Pandora’s Box. Both carry strong cautionary messages which had a big impact on me.
King Midas was greedy and when offered a wish, wished that all he touched turned to gold. He was saddened and regretted his wish when even his beloved daughter turned to gold. Lesson: Don’t be greedy. However, I was more horrified at the thought of that young girl trapped in a body of gold. Surely that would be worse than a straitjacket, the thought of which is terrifying enough.
Pandora was presented with a box which she was instructed to not open. What more effective an invitation could there be to a curious soul? Of course, Pandora opened the box. Who wouldn’t? Unfortunately, in doing so, she released all the ills of the world. It is her, so the story goes, we have to thank for illness, plagues, wars, famines and so the list goes on. Lesson: Do what you’re told and don’t be curious. I’m not sure that I learned the lesson from the tale. I’d already had the message firmly installed prior to encountering it.
As I matured I realised that the lessons from stories such as these didn’t always apply and I am now an advocate for curiosity if not for greed. Where would we humans be without curiosity, wonder, and imagination?
This week at the Carrot Ranch, Charli Mills challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about what happens next to a stranded suitcase. Go where the prompt leads you, but consider the different perspectives you can take to tell the tale.
The five W questions that we often teach children to use when interrogating a text or preparing to write spring to mind: Who, What, Where, When and Why.
- Who abandoned the suitcase?
- What is in the suitcase?
- Where was the suitcase abandoned?
- When was it abandoned?
- Why was it abandoned?
- Who found the suitcase?
- What did they do?
In bygone days, had I come across an abandoned suitcase, I may have investigated it to discover:
- Did it have any value?
- Was it discarded or lost?
- Was there anything of value in it?
- Could I find the owner and return it?
I remember as a child going along with my older brother’s suggestion to create a fake package, tie some fishing line to it, place it in the middle of the road and wait for a curious and unsuspecting pedestrian to come along. (Traffic was infrequent back in those days.) When the pedestrian bent to investigate the package, my brother would pull on the line and the package would move out of reach. We found the response of the pedestrians hilarious and our laughter soon gave away the plot from the bush or fence behind which we lay in wait. Fortunately, they all laughed too when they realised what we were up to.
Nowadays, with warnings about the possibilities of abandoned bags and packages containing terrorist bombs, people may be less inclined to investigate, concerned that the result may be more similar to what Pandora discovered.
For my response to Charli’s prompt, I’ve decided to go with a more innocent age when two children playing in the bush find an abandoned suitcase.
A Case of the Unexpected
“I wonder what’s inside,” said Jamie.
“D’ya think we should open it?” Nicky asked.
They looked around. No one anywhere.
Jamie shrugged. “I guess.”
“Looks old,” said Nicky.
“Probably been here for years.”
The rusty catches were unyielding.
“Might be locked,” said Nicky, hopefully.
“Let’s see,” said Jamie.
They pried with sticks, battered with stones and willed with all their might. When the catches finally snapped open, they hesitated.
“Go on,” said Nicky.
“Okay. One, two, three … open!”
The children’s eyes widened.
“What is it?” asked Nicky.
“Dunno,” said Jamie. “Looks like …”
What do you think was inside?
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.