I have always been a big fan of satire and absurd stories, such as Animal Farm, Alice in Wonderland, and Life of Brian.
Several years ago, I was brainstorming ideas for a story to write. I was attracted to the idea of a story about two kids who end up in a bizarre world. But I couldn’t get progress with the story because I had nothing to drive their journey. All my ideas were about two kids, probably siblings, arguing about how they got here and what are they supposed to do. I had ideas for wacky things to happen, and for wacky people for them to meet.
But I had no story.
As 2016 came to a close, and we elected the new president, I found myself deeply upset. At first I was despondent and didn’t know quite what to do. Then I got busy and became more involved with politics than I ever had been before.
I was motivated because I was worried about my daughter and how women, minorities, and migrants would fare under this new regime. As I tried to find projects to make the world better through politics, helping people directly, and using my talents, I tried to think of something that would use my talent for writing.
At some point I remembered this story I had tried to work on many years ago about two kids who find themselves in a bizarre world. Now I was able to connect the bizarre world I sought for the story with the bizarre world we were living in. And I was able to connect the two kids in the story with my own two children.
My worry for the children in the story parallels my worry for my own children in this world.
I don’t think this story I’ve written will change the world directly. But I do believe that sharing stories about the world in which we live is how we come to a deeper and agreed-upon understanding of the world. And maybe once were all in better agreement, we can do something about.
I told a story about two children abandoned in the woods. It is an homage to Hanzel and Gretel, a fairy tale told in the time when children were frequently abandoned in the woods when families had too many mouths to feed, and parents had to choose between leaving their children to die alone in the forest, or watching those children starve along with their siblings.
But my story is about us, today, in America. The idea of children abandoned in the woods by their parents stuck with me because that’s how I feel our political parties treat the people they supposedly represent. We have become something of a burden to their plans and, not knowing what else to do, they have left us to fend for ourselves.
In my story, Sally and Billy, the abandoned children, are terrified as night approaches, and bear witness to an atrocity. Their lone glimmer of hope comes in the form of a kitten they rescue. But just as they figure out how to comfort each other, the kitten is stolen away.
The children do everything they can to save their poor little kitten. They do this with a pure desire to do the right thing, and they help each other figure out how to overcome the obstacles in their path.
They do this in spite of being abandoned by their parents.
I believe that is what Americans will do for each other, even as we bear witness to atrocities on a daily basis, and in spite of what our political parties have done to us.
Yes, I realize that we constitute the political parties, and that many of us, individually, do not like other Americans. But, taken as a whole, we have a desire to do the right thing for each other. When America welcomes and supports those with the greatest need, it benefits all of us. Supporting each other strengthens our communities, helps us improve local government, and, ultimately, gives us better state and federal lawmakers.
But it won’t be easy. We are pretty deep in the woods at this moment.
Fight or Flight
Sally and Billy must overcome great challenges and personal hardship. They are accosted, in the story, by Big Baby, a narcissist despot who doesn’t like to share.
We also must survive a leader who doesn’t like to share.
A novella may not seem like a significant step towards solving the worlds problems, but it’s all that I have to offer at this time.
Sally and Billy in Babyland is a fable for our times, a political satire that offers a view on the world through the perspective of children abandoned in the woods who cling to the hope of a better future.
So may we all.
If you’re interested in this political satire/fable, it’s available right now on Amazon. If you like it, I hope you’ll leave a review.
This post was originally published on Medium, where I write about writing, creativity, and productivity.