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The Old but New Story
The Old but New Story
“Gather around. I’ll tell you, kids, a scary story,” Grandma said one night over the campfire where my unassuming siblings and I were running around the fire, chasing each other to see who was the fastest. I didn’t want to listen to Grandma that day. I would’ve rather chased my siblings but I sat down beside Grandma, not wanting to offend her.
“Yes, Grandma?” My older sister Lou said, like the perfect, stuck-up child she was.
“This is a scary story but I have a feeling that your kiddos will need to know it,” Grandma sighed.
That caught my attention. I loved scary stories. So did my brothers and sisters. They gave Grandma their full attention which was unusual for them.
“Once upon a time, there was,” Grandma started as she looked into the campfire seriously.
“Is there a big bad wolf in the story?” Harry asked.
I glanced at my little brother. Typical Harry, always interrupting when a good part of the story’s about to start.
“No, dear,” Grandma said impatiently, “But there is a monster.”
Harry gasped and buried his face in my sweater, “Go on, Grandma,” I said as the crackling of the fire echoed through the forest. I hoped that the monster wasn’t living in the forest that we were camping in.
“This monster had two bright eyes, two arms, two legs, and was impossible to predict. They were so smart that no other creature could outthink them. They were very successful. They were successful indeed. But they had a problem. They were taking the planet they were living on for granted and didn’t care about anything else but themselves and their cool new gadgets. Few tried to stop the others but it wasn’t possible and they were outnumbered. This caused a war. A war with the planet and the monster,” Grandma said in an ominous tone.
“I hate the monster!” Harry cried, throwing his hands up in the air.
Grandma looked at Harry for a second and then laughed, “Why is that, young one?”
“They’re selfish, vicious, and cruel!” Harry threw a tiny little fit.
Grandma smiled warmly, “Well, listen to what happens next.”
Harry stopped throwing a mini tantrum immediately and looked at Grandma with huge eyes. Sometimes I wondered how I was related to that boy and sometimes, I didn’t mind that Harry was naive because he was much younger than me or any other of his siblings.
“The monsters didn’t stop. They just hurt the planet that they were living on more and more. They were heartless and didn’t care about what happened next. They didn’t care if the ocean overflowed if the creatures around them died out, and even if they started to realize that they couldn’t just live that way. The monsters just wanted to keep doing things that were an advantage to them and didn’t even care about the other creatures around them that shared the planet with them.” Grandma paused for what she calls a ‘dramatic suspense’.
“Then what did they do, Grandma?” I asked, intrigued, being half-annoyed at Grandma for pausing the story.
“They died,” Grandma finished.
“What? Who died? The monsters? The planet?” Lou cried, jumping to her feet, “Whoa, whoa, that’s not fair!”
“I know it’s not fair but the other creatures just had to live with it since there was no way that they could speak up for themselves. The planet eventually died and every creature in it died along with it,” Grandma sighed.
“What are we going to do if the monster appears, Grandma?” Harry asked with fearful eyes.
Grandma fixed us with a hard look, “There’s only one thing that you could do in that situation – stand up for what you believe is right.”
Sixty years ago, I found that sentence meaningless. I thought that it was merely something that Grandma made up to entertain us. Now, I look out at the window and see the Earth slowly fading away and I realize that we humans were the monsters in Grandma’s story.