I clasp my hands together and lean forward onto the counter.
“Once upon a time,” I begin, and Will groans, “there was a girl.”
“At least it’s not a pencil,” Will comments.
I glare at him.
“Continue,” he says hastily.
“There was a girl,” I repeat, “and things were always happening to her clothes. She would put on a clean new outfit every morning, but by the time she went to bed at night, her clothes had turned to rags. Sometimes her family would rip up her clothes before she could even leave the house. Sometimes she would trip and fall of her own accord and mess up her clothes and when she would return home, her family would finish the job. Soon, all she had left to wear were rags, and wear them she did.
“There were whispers among the townspeople as she ran her errands, and her family and friends even asked her: why didn’t she make herself decent? The girl was ashamed of her rags, and went home night after night to piece them together into something decent. She was not much of a seamstress, however, and soon they all fell apart, and she grew tired of trying to make rags into something wearable.
“One day, she decided not to leave her room at all. It seemed she made everyone uncomfortable when she was in rags anyhow. She didn’t want to wear rags anymore, but she couldn’t do anything about them either. So she sat in her room, day after day.
“Then, quite suddenly, there was a knock at her door. She summoned enough strength to get up and answer it. There was a woman at the door, holding a beautiful white gown. The girl had never seen anything like it. The woman explained the gown was from a prince who had heard of her plight, and wanted to give her something nice to wear. The girl was touched, but didn’t think she should accept it because of what had happened to all of her other clothes. The woman assured her the prince wanted her to have them that he thought she should have better than rags. The girl eventually agreed.
“As she came out in her new white gown, her family and friends and fellow townspeople saw the change and threw a celebration. They were so happy to see the girl in something other than rags.
“The girl grew and moved away to a new town, with new people, all of whom also were delighted by her white gown. The girl was stunning, and they held her in awe. They insisted she attend all of their town functions, and they would parade her around like a trophy. Her dress dulled to an off-white color from its overuse, but she had no time to clean it. Several tears began to manifest themselves. She was lectured by older townswomen on keeping her clothes in good working order, and one of them even gave her a needle and some thread. But the girl had never been a seamstress, and that hadn’t really changed. Her beautiful white gown looked more and more like rags every day.
“Ashamed, the girl ran away, back to her hometown. While people noticed her gown wasn’t in good shape, they kindly avoided the issue, and let her go about her business. At least it wasn’t rags.”
“The end,” I conclude.
~excerpted from A Year with the Baptists