If someone had to be recognized for their contribution to critical thinking, I would definitely mention William of Ockham and his Theory of the Truth. ‘Among several options the truest one is the simplest one,’ he believed. So is believed by philosophy books that every morning and in all parts of the world go to school, packed in colorful backpacks. My daughter Dorota is too young to attend a philosophy class. She enjoys playing with dollies and balls. I’m happy about that, despite the fact that she broke a cup from my six-piece porcelain dinnerware set. It was not the first time. She used to play with the ball in the den room and as a result the dinnerware set suffered from a severe reduction of its components.
“How many times do I have to tell you to play outside?" I yelled at her one month ago, when the carpet floor was covered with white porcelain chunks. From the second cup.
“It wasn’t me, mom.”-
“Are you lying now?’-
“It was Blue Fairy, mom. She broke your cups. She will fix them, she told me.”
The den room door had to be locked. I love my daughter but playing with the ball in that room would have led to several disputes about broken ancient pottery and damaged wood models of historical boats from my husband’s collection; as for the porcelain dinnerware set the damages were already remarkable.
“The back garden is all for you, darling. You can play as much as you want there,” I told Dorota while putting the den key into my pocket.
“Tell her, mom.”-
“To Blue Fairy, mom. Tell her,” Dorota said starting for the back garden with the ball among her hands.
Her imagination was totally fine. I had to remind to myself that besides teaching philosophy at Gymnasium I’m a writer and when it comes to making up stories which have to sound realistic despite an unrealistic plot, imagination is the key. For that day my key had closed the den and locked into it the annoying story about the broken cups.
Friday cleaning day. The vacuum cleaner finally moved its limbs through hidden corners and high shelves. Before entering the dusty den room it waited for the click sound from the keyhole. It waited longer than expected, for my arms to move from my hips to my head, and for a scream to roar from my throat. Another one; the third cup was smashed on the carpet floor. Dorota!
“Mom?” She said panting from the back garden.
“How do you explain this? Do I have a liar-thief daughter now?”-
“I’m busy, mom,” she said before turning her back to run after the ball.
She was busy, wasn’t she? And wasn’t the cup -my beloved cup- broken? My husband! Did he get a spare key? The den was his reign as well.
“I don’t enter the den since ages. Are my boats fine? Sweetie are you trying to tell me that something happened to my boats?” These were his words before rushing into the den room. His boats were fine; no issue there. I wanted to ask if Dorota took the spare key from him, but the matter got answered before the question was asked.
“Dorota loves playing everywhere with her ball, you know. Is it so difficult locking the door? What if my boats get broken?”
Simpler than that it couldn’t be. Lock the door. Door locked. Once again.
“Mom wants to ask you something.”-
“Yes,” Dorota said bouncing the ball.
“Could you stop playing for a while, dear?”-
“Yes,” she whispered wearing the kind of look before her eyes started to be watery.
“Have you broken another of my cups, Dorota?” Was the question that was about to come to my mouth and that eventually came as “Blue Fairy. Let’s talk about Blue Fairy.”-
“Yeah! Has she confessed, mom? Told you, she is a bit of a scoundrel sometimes. But she will fix your stuff. Can I go to play now?”-
“Let’s talk about the woman who broke into our house and tried to steal my pottery. She saw you and told you she was Blue Fairy, right? Now, can you remember how she looked like?”-
“Don’t know about any woman me. Can I go to play now?”
I let her go. What else? What else, rather than installing a camera pointing to the den door? As for the window, if somebody had entered it I had to find it open, which wasn’t the case.
Friday cleaning day came once again. The vacuum cleaner ran here and there. Click! once again. The den room door opened. So my mouth did and stuck for several minutes, the longest of my life.
Once one of my students told me that a rat ate his homework; this explained why he could not submit the written essay on the Allegory of the Cave I assigned to the class regarding Plato’s Republic. When I asked him to expose verbally his opinion about education, he provided an interesting explanation on why he could not.
“That was a rare rat. He sucked Plato’s ideas out of my mind, as if I never heard about him.”
That was when my mouth stuck open in amazement and I thought that never again something could have stuck it open longer. I was wrong. On the top shelf, out of six priceless porcelain cups, only two were left. The fourth one was now a bunch of chunks on the carper floor. Anger doesn’t help, right. That was what I taught to my students and Aristotle did long before. But there was too much of antique pieces at stake. I was furious. I pushed the ON button from the video recorder and I watched. I watched to no one and nothing except for a closed door.
Friday cleaning day was back. This time the vacuum cleaner did not have to wait before the den room opened; it found it open. I left it open all week, judging it was safer to move the last two cups on a top shelf in the garage. The wood boats were fine, same for the rest of the pottery. The carpet floor was clean. ‘Let’s go to the garage,’ I said talking to the vacuum cleaner.
“What is this?”-
“Did she come again, mom?”-
“Who did this? How many times do I have to tell you to play…”-
“I play all the time outside. Why don’t you talk to her? Always me!” She went back sobbing.
As a liar she was amazing. I almost believed her. A sign for an acting career? A sign there was, right before my eyes; the fifth cup was on the garage floor and of its ancient splendor nothing was left.
Nothing was left from the evening dinner meal neither.
Before speaking about what I wanted to say I waited for the dessert, the Paris cake that both Dorota and Martin loved. I preferred the Florida, but for that evening I had to captivate them as much as I could. I wanted them to tell me the truth. The cups were all gone, except for one, and I wouldn’t have gone mad if they had told me the truth. A ‘Yes, I accidentally smashed it,’ would have been fine. Chapter closed.
“How do you like the cake, guys?”-
“Super, I like it mom!”-
“Very good choice, sweetie.”
“Fine,” I said. “Let’s talk now. You might have noticed something happened to my porcelain cups. Does anyone have anything to say? -
“I can talk to Blue Fairy tonight, mom. She promised to give all cups back to you.”-
“Fine, Dorota. What about you, Martin? -
“Did anything happen to my boats. Because if that is the cas…”-
“Never mind, dear. Never mind. Another slice of cake?”-
‘Yeah’ and ‘yes, please’ followed.
So followed the hours until bedtime.
Sleep came easily despite the odd situation I was facing and even easier came the new day, knocking on the door.
“Dear, would you mind… It must be the postman,” I said with the sleepiest voice I had.
“Postmen do not come on Saturday, and not so early.”
My husband was right. But who else could have been? I got up and looked for my slippers in the dim light. Something felt weird but I couldn’t tell what. The feeling came from the pillow, when I brushed my cheeks against it to gain the standing up position.
I reached the entrance door and opened it. From the other side a postman stood with a parcel among his arms. Before I could say something, he laid it on the entrance floor, turned his back and went away.
“Should I sign the delivery, Sir?”
No answer, which recently seemed to be the rule. Standing up at dawn, wearing my pajamas and slippers, the first thing that came up to my mind was old Sir William of Ockham and his ‘Among several options the truest one is always the simplest one.’
With this in mind I went back to bed. In the bedroom the light was less dim and golden rays from the first sun made one thing clear: I was about to leave Plato’s cave with Sir Ockham in mind. I glanced at the pillow before my head laid on it and I saw what had made it feel odd. My eyes found the ceiling that had been sheltering my husband and myself since years, only now I found it so beautiful. Sleep came again.
By lunch time I wanted a Florida cake on the table and no intention to enter the garage, cup or not cup. I was the first one to be in the kitchen and the last one to be surprised. When my husband entered the kitchen he looked as if something happened to his wood boats, the worst thing to him.
“Could you say something?” He spoke.
“Mom, have you bought new ancient cups?” Said Dorota still in her pajama.
“From you I would expect a different approach!”-
“What is a proach, mom?”-
“Have you seen the cups the postman has delivered early morning? I expected you told me Blue Fairy sent them.”-
“Mom, are you ok? I made it up. It wasn’t me who broke your cups but you wouldn’t believe me, so I made up Blue Fairy.”-
“So you lied.”-
“I did. Sorry, mom. Can I have another slice of cake now?”-
That was when my husband served another slice of cake to Dorota and to himself. He was about to serve one to me as well when instead he asked me:
“Could you say something, please?”-
“About what? About the new ceiling and pillowcases?”-
“Indeed! Since when we do not decide together about new colours? I can’t understand when the house painter came in. Was it while we slept?”-
“This is a question for Dorota,” I said winking at her. “Go to mom and daddy’s room, Dorota. And then tell me the truth.”
Dorota left the spoon among the fresh cream topping the cake and ran to the bedroom. She came back walking slowly, with her little hand on her forehead. She sat silently until the silence felt too much.
“Who did that, mom? And when?”-
I burst into laughter that eventually came as words.
“Weren’t you together with Blue Fairy?”-
“You scare me mom, there is no Blue Fairy. I made it up, I said. I lied.”
My husband stood up leaving the spoon on the empty plate where once two slice of Florida cake had been. His hand went to the forehead, as Dorota had done. They both could not figure out who painted all those dancing fairies on the ceiling. It was so beautiful and reminding of Sistine Chapel we saw in Rome last year. For the pillowcases, they were now embroidered with little fairies and flowers patterns.
I told them the story from Ockham and they said nothing.
It was Dorota who broke the silence.
“Does Mr. Tokkam know Blue Fairy, mom?”-
There was one thing I hadn’t mentioned about the Theory of the Truth. It was that William of Ockham’s ‘simplest one and indeed the truest one among several options’ was also the most logical one. Now two options were competing to make out of them the truest one.
1) Sir William of Ockham knew Blue Fairy and therefore he included fairies among logic.
2) Sir William of Ockham did not know fairies. Which also leaves open a third* possibility leading to the truth.
3) *Even though he did not know any fairy, he could have considered them as invisible existing beings and therefore he included them within logic.
In that moment the true thing was that my daughter’s lie had turned out to be the truth. As logical or illogical this might sound.
“Well, if among several options the truest one is the simplest one, then the answer is yes, Ockham and Blue Fairy knew each other.”
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I like this story! That last part, about Ockham and his theory of truth, was my favorite. I got a little lost at times, but this was a really enjoyable read! Did you by any chance major/minor in something psychology-related? You definitely seem knowledgeable about it :) Nice work, Santina! —Tommie Michele
Thank you so much, Tommie, for your comment. I studied Philosophy, long time ago. When I read the weekly prompt I rummaged in my memory and found Ockham's Razor as an inspiration for my story. ... Btw, still improving my writing and I perfectly understand some points were not developped well. Working on it on next stories : ) Thank you again for your feedback!
You’re welcome! I can’t wait to read more of your stories :)
Thank you so much for your feedback, Danny! I've read one of your stories, 'The Last Dare of His Life, 'and found it very enjoyable. Well done!
Ockham's razor! This is the first I've seen it used in a story, and it was very well done! This is a well-developed story and I thoroughly enjoyed it!