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Funny Fantasy

At the end of the season, the townsfolk knew that they would have to get ready for the big event. After the first day of autumn, the harvest was in and the nights grew shorter. Men and women prepared for the winter to come (always vicious and long, as usual); children found they had to put away endless numbers of apples, pumpkins and vegetables in their cabinets and larders; grandparents shared stories of their own childhoods over strong glasses of cider and hot chocolate. People in the town greeted each other and smiled at their friends and neighbours, even the ones they did not care for. It was pleasant and it was perfect. And it was also time for the big event.

Every fifty years, the town put together a time capsule. This was first down by the founders of the town in order to keep the land within the hands of the farmers and businessmen who wanted to protect their investment. Later, it became a means of furnishing the town’s one museum with pieces and objects that could be taken as a window into their very private pasts. The last opening was massively popular, and the mayor and city council decided that they would continue indefinitely with the tradition, but there would be some changes. A larger vessel was created that could hold more items in the abandoned mine shift they used the last three times. A plaque would be created this year that would feature the names of all of the items and contributors to the capsule. A silver plaque would mark the exact amount of time until the next opening (there was some debate on the expense of such a device, but the town decided, over the objections of the local officials, to keep this inside the mine and visible outside the main entrance – a great tourist attraction, they believed). And they would only take a specific number of items to be voted on and chosen by popular vote. They knew this would work.

It was known as ‘Fifty for Fifty’. That meant fifty items that best represented the town would be chosen and put into the time capsule. The citizens agreed and began to gather as many different things that would best represent their community. But there were a few rules: no perishables (a remarkable number of pumpkins and other vegetables were gathered and rejected; it was simply not a good idea for a capsule to have anything that could rot); nothing made outside of the town limits (no problem with that; no one wanted to bring in and give away anything they managed to gather); and nothing that was taken out of the last time capsule deposit (very easy; it was all in the museum and they would be expanding the building after another fifty-year run). So, the town got to work…

Many outfits worn in the fields and the churches were handed in. Some of the carpenters provided tools and work created out of their skill and free time. There were horseshoes, jewelry, oars, caps and shoes. There were homemade books (blank, lined and chronicles of the towns). There were homemade pens, eyeglasses, knives, and rings. And very soon, they came close to their goal of fifty items. Very close…but there was still one more item necessary to complete their goal.

A call went out through the town and many people looked for something special and different to put in the capsule. Many other items of clothing were brought forward and rejected. Other tools that some of the builders wanted in were already included. There was some talk about including perishables but no one wanted to admit to such a solution. They spent many days trying to find just that special item to finish this special event.

There was nothing special left to include in the capsule. The elders and members of the town council conceded the fact that they would only include 49 items in it and that they would not have a plaque commemorating the number. Many citizens complained that they were being too choosy and that they should just find anything not submitted and throw in into the pile. A near-riot started when one of the men working as security for the meeting attempted to restrain a grandmother approaching the councillors with her knitting. And then, they all heard it.

On the main double doors leading to the chamber, a heavy pounding sound was heard. When quiet filled the room, the doors were opened by a young man that most of the town knew all too well. This was one of their best and brightest students, a man who helped with the windmill construction when the main one had to be rebuilt; a man who helped with improved irrigation and harvesting methods; a man who created the plaque to appear at the mine; a man that many of them could not stand.

He was still a young man, but for many, their feelings had no shades of grey. He was bright and helped the community, but they kept their distance from him when they did not need him. Some noted that they had not seen him at the end of the harvest or during the great hunt for capsule fodder. Most of them felt relief at this. So, when did he suddenly appear at this meeting?

Under his arm, he held a very beautiful polished silver box that had some phrases carved on it. The ones closest to him as he walked up the aisle to the public podium did not recognize any of the words. It was all done in an alien tongue; a secret script. Was it demonic? Was it witchcraft? Some murmurs of these thoughts were whispered through the room. But he was aware of their fears and began to speak above the hum.

He explained what he had been up to during their ‘exertions’ (his fancy words again). He knew about the capsule (no surprise there). He knew that they needed to complete their chosen set of items (again, no surprise). And he had been working on something that he knew the town did not have. It was a gift for a generation that had yet to exist.

The mayor and one guard approached, looked at the lettering engraved on the fine metal, and asked what it said.

He smiled. ‘Deodorant’.

He had to repeat the word just to keep the questions to a standstill. Deodorwhat? No one had ever heard such a word in the town before and many thought that it was still a form of witchcraft, or a demonic name.

And then he opened the box.

It was due to the mayor’s reaction that he was not killed on the spot. With a look of deep joy, the mayor inhaled and smiled and grinned so widely that they all wanted to rush the stand. And they all looked at the simple white stick in its wrapping and marvelled at the delicious smell. Something floral and deep, like many of the plants collected and left in their homes, flowed out of the case. They all smiled and enjoyed their best citizen’s greatest invention.

*

After it was placed in the capsule, and after fifty years had passed with different generations awaiting the opening, the day arrived when it was time to see what was left to mark their ancestors. And there was a problem. The new generation, looking over all of the items, were very surprised by the goods that their elders had provided. None of it was really shocking or interesting enough to save. But there was one surprise. In the same silver container placed last fifty years ago, the simple white bar was praised and admired. It had taken them some time to adapt to the new business, but they were happy to see where it all started. All the fine citizens of Mennen were proud to keep the gift in their new and expanded museum. And they knew that visitors would be very intrigued by this story. They would want to know why the town became something new.

October 10, 2020 01:50

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1 comment

Malz Castell
07:16 Nov 09, 2020

This was a really interesting story. I really liked the flow of the story.

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