Once upon a time there was a girl; she lived in a big castle with lots of family. Life was good; plenty of food, blankets and love to go around. One day, the king of the castle left. The girl and her siblings were never quite sure if their father left by choice or if he was forced to leave; but the result was the same… he was gone. Their mother, the Queen of the castle, tried for a time to interview potential Kings but no suitor proved worthy. It wasn’t long before the Queen decided that rather than search for a replacement King, she would search for the secret potion that would provide her with the magical powers needed to handle all the young children and the castle upkeep all while never feeling an ounce of loneliness or the need for companionship.
The Queen tried many potions; none of which were what she was looking for. Each potion had a different effect on her. The Girl and her siblings began making a game out of who could guess what their mother would turn into when she tried the next potion. One day they came home from playing in the fields and found the Queen had turned into a rabbit. She hopped around the castle for the rest of the night; by the next morning she had morphed back to her old self. The children laughed about the rabbit; it was, after all, amusing however not all results were funny; some were scary. A few weeks later the children found the Queen lying on the floor with an empty potion bottle next to her. She was a flounder; and fish cannot be out of water for long. The girl raced to her mother, scooped her up and ran her to the pond out back to throw her in. At some point that night they heard wet footsteps enter the house and the children knew that the potion had finally worn off and their mom was back. After many attempts, the Queen attempted to drink a different type of potion.She lay down on her bed and fell into a deep sleep that lasted many years. Occasionally, she would awake for a few moments but she soon fell back to sleep. The castle became messy, the siblings became disobedient and the girl was scared.
The girl missed the King, she missed the happiness in the castle, the comfort she felt when she heard his voice booming through the hallways, the protection he offered his family. The girl hoped every night for a miracle. She dreamed of the King coming home; but that was not to be.
Over time the girl began to feel lonely. Even though the castle was always filled with her siblings, she felt lonely because the one person she knew could wake the Queen and stop her from experimenting with the potions was not going to come back. The food supply was short and the love that once was abundant now was in short supply. No matter how many people surrounded the girl; the only thing she ever felt was loneliness. It was consuming her. Her siblings were hungry but she was just a little girl and she had no money to buy food, nor did she know where to find it.
Most nights the girl would sit in her room and fantasize about a prince saving her from this cold and lonely castle. She imagined the prince would protect her and comfort her the way the King had protected and comforted his family. She longed to feel cared for, to feel safe, to feel loved.
Years went by and the girl’s miracle arrived on a horse wearing a dark blue saddle. He was a good man with many friends and a big heart. He introduced himself to the Queen during one of her infrequent periods of consciousness, he then befriended all of the girl’s siblings. Once he was accepted by the family he asked for the Girl’s hand. The marriage was planned for the next day with very few preparations. There was no special dress, no ring, no flowers; just the girl and a man who was going to save her from the loneliness.
After the short ceremony the girl walked through the town feeling safer than she had felt in many years. It was as if the man had placed a coat over her shoulders on a chilly evening. She was protected, safe and very much loved this man for making her enjoy life again. He showed her the new home she was to live with him in; it wasn’t much, but it was theirs and she was happy.
The next day the town bridge collapsed, the townspeople asked the man to help and because he was such a good man; he agreed. The man would have to leave his girl to go fix it. She knew she would miss him but she also knew how important that bridge was to the town. She kissed him goodbye and began her long wait for him to come home. When he arrived home he brought news of his intent to begin a family with her. Child after child blessed the man and his girl. But then another messenger arrived on their doorstep notifying the man of the need for his assistance to rebuild a house that had been destroyed by wild centipedes. The man kissed his girl and all of his children and left to repair the house. The girl waited patiently for the man to come home; she cared for their children and tried not to let the old feelings of loneliness creep into her mind. She was the best mother she could be but she knew that their sons could not learn how to be a proper man from their mother. The boys needed their father to teach them how to be good men. The girl did the best she could to raise them to be men, but she couldn’t be sure she was succeeding.
The townspeople began to rely heavily on the man and began to call him to assist in many different ways all around town. The girl knew he loved her and their children and would protect them whether he was physically home or not which is why she waited for him each time he was called away. The feeling of the coat on her shoulders on a chilly evening helped her get through many nights alone in that house.
One time a nearby town asked for the man’s assistance finding a lost pancake in the corn field. It took the man a long time to find the pancake but, of course, he finally succeeded. When the man came home his girl could sense that something was different. The man had changed. Something had happened while he was searching for the pancake. Suddenly, the girl began to feel lonely even when she sat next to the man. The man did not talk to his girl and slowly she began to feel less protected and safe when she went out. She was not sure that the man would have the energy to protect her while he was out doing good deeds for the rest of the town. She was scared that she would be left alone to care for their children but (just like when she was a little girl in the castle) she did not have the means to put food on the table or pay for their home. She didn’t want to be alone, she didn’t want to feel abandoned. Little by little the feeling of the coat on her shoulders was lost and the loneliness crept in.
The thought of feeling lonely again terrified the girl. One night wile the man sat reading a book the girl attempted to start a conversation with the man. He was not interested in talking to her; he wanted to finish his book. The girl went outside, she walked to the big Oak tree in the yard, she paused and looked back at the house. The man did not appear at the door looking for her. She didn’t even know if he knew she was outside. So she began walking. She passed through the town center, then the town line and eventually she was lost.
Time passed, and the girl repeatedly thought she had found her way back home but each time she realized she was in an even stranger place. Just when the girl was becoming cold and hungry she heard footsteps behind her. It was the man. He HAD been looking for her after all and he had found her. At last the girl felt the feeling of the coat around her shoulders and she allowed the man to lead her back to their home. Unfortunately, the man would have to leave again as soon as he brought his girl home though. He was needed in the center of town to fill in a giant crater after a particularly heavy cloud dropped from the sky the night before. He kissed his girl, packed his bags and left her alone in the big house again.
This time was different though. This time the girl knew that no matter what happened, where the man went, how long he was gone for he would always come looking for her if she got lost. The coat was on her shoulders again and although she missed him terribly she knew that he loved her and their children. She knew that he would always come home to them.
The crater proved to be much bigger than originally thought and the man was gone for much longer than ever before. The girl did her best to care for all their children, she kept the house in good repair, and she even attempted to learn how to knit. Months later the man requested a small amount of time to come home to his girl and their children because he missed them terribly. He knew he would have to go back to the crater, but he was excited to make the long journey home.
When he arrived the girl was happier than she could ever remember being. She had not yet had a chance to fully apologize to the man for getting lost that night. She wanted so badly for him to know how much she regretted making him come look for her on such a cold night but she couldn’t find the words. Instead she tried to show him how much she loved him so he would know that she would never get lost again. The girl opened her mouth to say “I love you” but there was a knock at the door. It was one of the townspeople there to thank the man for all his hard work. After the man closed the door the girl attempted to tell him again how much she loved him but there was another knock on the door. This time it was the girl’s siblings, they wanted to each give the man a handshake because they were so proud of the work he had done. Each time the girl would try to talk there was a knock at the door.
The girl waited for her turn. She had to be patient. Each person that came to the door only wanted a small amount of the man’s time, but cumulatively it was a large amount of time. As the clock ticked toward the hour in which the man would have to leave the girl became sad. When the man finally had a moment to sit with his girl she couldn’t say anything because she knew he would be leaving her alone again very soon. The fear of loneliness paralyzed her. She put on a smile and turned her head so he couldn’t see the single tear that fell down her cheek. He hugged her; and went back to work on the crater.
The girl put on a smile and went on about her days as she always had but at night she longed to be like everyone else. She wanted the man to hold her hand when she walked through town, she wanted him to teach their children to be as good a man as he was, she wanted him to put his arm around her to protect her rather than having to wear a metaphorical coat throughout life.
At last the crater was filled. The man came home with big news. He had decided that he had helped the townspeople so much over the years that he was going to focus on his family from that day forward. The man and his girl were quite happy in their home watching their children grow. They laughed and talked and the girl had almost forgotten what being lonely felt like.
When the letter arrived the man and his girl were caught completely off guard. It was the town requesting the man’s services again. They explained that he was the only man that could successfully push the square peg through the round hole in a large swimming pool filled with grape juice. Of course, this was an important step in the whole process of creating the first self propelled chicken nugget so the man agreed to go.
The girl kissed the man gently, told him she loved him and turned to walk back into the house. She was met with an amazing sight. Their sons were grown and they intended to go help their father. Each one of them stood there in front of the girl with confidence and maturity. Each one of them was as noble a man as they could be. Each one of them was just like their father. In all the time the man had been off helping the town their sons had watched from the front yard. They watched how he always put the town before his own needs and wants. They watched him tirelessly help strangers and they watched him struggle to hold back tears each time he left his girl and children. They watched and learned. They recognized that one of the most important parts of being a good man was ensuring that his family knew they were loved. The man did not want his girl to be lonely but he had no choice. He was the only person who could help the town when in need. It may have taken some time, and his girl may have gotten lost one night but he made sure that he found her. The man made SURE that his girl never doubted his love and always made sure that she felt his coat around her shoulders when she was chilly. Their boys had grown up to be just like their father.
Sharing the man with the rest of the town was not always easy but being in love with a hero is well worth it. The love shared between a Town Hero and his girl is stronger, more intense and more wonderful than any other love on Earth because they never take it for granted. The children born from this type of love are a special breed too; they witness first hand what it takes to be a good man and they will make their parents proud everytime.