It is time for a fractured fairy tale!
Once upon a time, there was a little house at the edge of town, near a great forest. A little girl and her mother lived in that house. They had a tiny garden but they couldn’t grow enough food for their own needs. Every day, the girl went out with a cooking pot, to look for enough porridge to last for just one day.
The girl walked into town every single day, and all in the town knew her. But she was an outsider and the townspeople didn’t like outsiders. In fact, they disliked outsiders so much that their town government made it a law declaring all outsiders to be illegal. A mean man with a permanent sneer on his face told the townspeople that, if they declared all people from the edge of town illegal, along with the outsiders who came from far away, he would give everyone delicious chocolate.
The townspeople elected the man to be their mayor. One day, he saw the little girl approaching the town and he yelled, “ILLEGAL! ILLEGAL! ILLEGAL!”
The townspeople tried to catch the little girl with a butterfly net but she ran away. Unfortunately, she dropped her cooking pot. She felt sad because the cooking pot that she dropped was her mother’s only cooking pot.
She walked through the forest, which felt safer than the town. She had been told that there were evil spirits in the forest. She wasn’t afraid of any spirits. She walked past hickory trees and oak trees and elm trees and birch trees, and she felt no fear, just hunger. And she felt sad because she was sure that her mother was hungry, too.
Then she reached into her pocket and found a little cake.
She had not finished the cake that she was given the day earlier, just moments before she was declared to be illegal. She ate half of the little cake and decided to save the rest for a time when she would be really hungry.
Just at that moment, a scrawny little man approached the little girl.
“I am hungry,” he said. “Can you share your little cake with me?”
“How did he know that I had a little cake in my pocket,” she wondered.
“I am a singer. I used to sing in the town. But the mean mayor sneered at me and said that he hated my music and that my music was illegal, and so was I.”
“Here you go. Enjoy the cake,” the little girl said.
“You are very kind. Because you are so generous, I have for you a magic pot. Rub it once and say, ‘cook, pot, cook,’ and the pot will make the most delicious porridge. When you have enough porridge, say ‘stop, pot, stop.’ Don’t forget to tell the pot to stop or it will take over your house.”
“Thank you,” said the little girl, who brought the pot home to her mother.
“Did you bring porridge home?”
“No, I can’t go into town. But I met a little man and he gave me a magic pot.”
“I am too hungry for stories, honey. Are you sure that you have no porridge?”
At that moment, the girl set the magic pot on the stove and told it, “Cook, pot, cook.”
Soon, the house was full of the aromatic smells of the porridge.
“Stop, pot, stop.”
And there was enough porridge for both the girl and her mother.
This went on every day. The smell of the delicious porridge permeated the house and it began spreading until it got to the house of the mean mayor, who sneered all of the town and who had taken to declaring anyone he didn’t like to be illegal. His guards took them to the edge of town and ordered them to be gone from the premises forever.
The mean mayor was feeling grumpy because no one would cook breakfast for him. At that moment, he smelled the porridge and he decided that he had to have some, too. He had his his guards investigate to find out where the aroma was coming from. After he got a full report, he decided that he would steal the porridge. He snuck out of town and stood outside of the little girl’s house, where he heard her say, “Cook, pot, cook.” And he smelled the porridge.
The next day, the mayor had a guard remove the mother and the daughter from the house and throw the two of them into a deep, dark dungeon. And there, they languished. All they were fed was watery gruel that was nothing like their delicious porridge.
The mean mayor went to the house, determined to have the best porridge that anyone could have.
“Cook, pot, cook!” he shouted.
Soon, the house was full of the aroma of that delicious porridge. Before long, the lid popped off of the pot, and the porridge came up and over the sides. The mayor started eating the porridge as it continued to grow. The porridge filled the kitchen and then the whole house. The mayor started running.
He did not know that the only way to stop the pot was to yell, “Stop, pot, stop!”
He waved his arms at a guard, who put him in the carriage, and the two of them rushed as fast as the horses could run to the deep, dark dungeon. They removed the girl and her mother, who appeared to be very cold. Then the guards put the girl and her mother into the carriage and brought them as close as they could to little house. It was surrounded by porridge. In fact, the porridge was inches deep, as though it was snow.
“Stop, pot, stop!” yelled the little girl.
The porridge pile ceased growing. The mayor tried to eat his way to the house. At last report, he had resigned as mayor, and was still seen eating his way toward the house.