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All That Glitters
Author's note: In this story the long threads of gold represent the very long hair I used to have, and recently I cut most of it off and donated it to locks of love for kids with cancer. I hope you enjoy the story!
We begin in the remote, unheard of village of Follicle. It's a small, but peaceful village. Each person knew the next, and news circulated quite rapidly. Down each road stretched an endless sight of stone cottages. If we took a walk down the longest dirt road in the village, we would notice a sight that seemed surely out of place. There amidst the poor, shabby cottages stood a mansion, big and tall. It was the only one in the village, and probably the only one for hundreds and hundreds of miles. Some green vines wrapped the mansion in a tight squeeze. At the front stood an iron gate, much like one that could guard Buckingham Palace. The inside was even more beautiful than the outside. Entering the front door, we walk upon spotless granite floors, and each room viewed as big as most cottages in the village. In the foyer we see a staircase that looked like it could lead us straight into heaven. Step by step, the view of the mansion became even more breath-taking. Reaching the top of the stairs brings us to a long hallway, and at the end of this hallway stood a large steel door. What treasures lie behind this door? We will find miles and miles of long, golden threads. They bring a sparkle to the room and a shimmer to our hearts. The threads felt smooth, like silk, but worth much more. The owner of this fortune was a beautiful young woman named Katherine. Everyone grew jealous of her long, golden threads, but all admired them. She got many requests for a chance to touch them. Everyone in the village seemed very nice and trusting, so she allowed them as long as they admired carefully. Villagers would say that the threads became so long that they could stretch to China and back. Days when she had nothing else to do, she found herself braiding the long threads like fine locks of golden hair. Katherine took much pride in being rich, but acted as kindly as can be. She spent her days socializing with fellow neighbors, yet never felt sympathy of how low they actually lived. She never found a reason to share her wealth with anyone, not even her own family. She believed she earned all her gold, and it would be wrong for anyone to take it away.
How does one end up with threads of gold? Well, Katherine received this wealth at the age of 16 by starting her own business in the United States. It became very popular very quickly. After years passed she earned more and more money until she became the richest person in the country. Though being rich came with a price. She eventually got fed up with people asking for loans, receiving invitations for parties from people she never knew, and fake friends seeking compensation for their so-called "friendship." At the age of 22, she decided to move out of the U.S. to somewhere she can be left alone peacefully with her money. She had always wanted to go to Europe, so moving there seemed like a good idea. Yet, she no longer wanted to live in a big city, but a quiet, small town no one has ever heard of. She flew to Paris, France, bringing nothing but her riches. She decided to start over: new house, new clothes, new car, new life. She traveled to the very remote outskirts of Paris, where cars turned to buggies, homes turned to small cottages, and lampposts turned to many trees. She came to a small village, with merely about 200 people living in it. Many of the residents dressed in baggy clothes glanced over at the exquisite, beautiful foreigner wearing a silk navy blue dress reaching to just above the knee, fancy black shoes that strangely lifted her heel off the ground, a bright yellow hat that could outshine the sun, and in her arm, a black bag with the word "Gucci" printed on the side. Her skin seemed to have a natural glow, with a perfect tan. Her lips red as the apples on a nearby tree, and her cheeks a rosy pink. The look of her soft, brown eyes could warm anyone's heart, and she walked with a small spring in her step as in a joyful matter. Her dark brown hair fell smoothly on her chest and softly blew with an incoming breeze. She had the face of a confident woman, very bright and wise for her age. Villagers stared as if she had an extra head, but she felt welcome, a feeling she had not felt in years. Being rich, she became automatically welcomed anywhere by anyone and the phrase, "I'm glad you could come," lost all value once she learned inviting her became a gimmick to get some money.
She found a big plot of land on which to build her mansion. She hired architects and builders from Paris to make her dream house spring to life. It took a while to finally get settled in, but she felt very happy with the job they had done. One day she went into Paris to trade some of her money for bars of gold, believing they would be prettier to look at and easier to store. It turned out her money in total was worth 100 bars of gold! On the way back to the village, a man of about the same age took notice of her gold.
"Excuse me, Miss," the man said. "I couldn't help but notice that lovely collection of bars of gold. A beautiful young woman like you should not have to strain herself lugging around such hefty, but valuable luggage."
"Oh, thank you for your concern, but I'm doing just fine."
"Are you sure? What if I told you I could turn your bars of gold into threads of gold?" said the man.
She replied, "Are you serious? Who do you think you are? Rumpelstiltskin?"
"No but it is basically the same concept. First, I will shred the bars. Then, I will take the shreds and spin them into threads."
"Sounds great, but how much will it cost me?"
He then suddenly got down on one knee, pulled out a daisy growing between the cracks of the broken sidewalk and said, "For you, my lovely lady, I will do as a favor in exchange for your lovely hand in marriage."
She took the flower as he gently kissed her hand. He didn't look bad at all, but she couldn't possibly share her life with someone only in it for the money. She accepted anyway just to see how great of a job he would do.
As she kindly responded, "Sure," the man leaped with joy, ran into his shop and screamed, "Mother, I'm finally tying the knot!"
The woman said to herself, "What a dork," and followed him inside.
The store seemed to be that of a tailor. There were multiple shelves of every color of thread imaginable. In the back room where the man worked, she saw two sewing machines, and on a table laid a pair of blue jeans and a floral print skirt, probably items from customers. On the back wall hung a sign from his store that read: "Taylor's Tailoring: The Rumpelstiltskin of Today."
Katherine thought to herself, "Wow, he really does think he's Rumpelstiltskin. He's an even bigger dork than I thought."
As she dragged in her fortune through the door, he said, "Come sit over here, my beautiful wife, and watch me work some magic."
She thought, "Either he's very desperate or very in love with me. I can't tell, but I have had many men fool me into thinking they loved me when all they loved was my money."
She watched as he took what looked like an ordinary cheese grater, and somehow magically began to shred the bar of gold. Katherine sat there in awe, pondering over this unusual concept. Soon enough the wooden floor was glimmering with shreds of glittering gold. They reminded her of gold wood shavings. Next she watched as he took the shreds one by one and threaded them together until they created very long, fine pieces of thread. She sat amazed at his work, then shoved all the threads into multiple sacks and loaded them into a car he let her borrow to take the gold home.
The man said to her, "You may take the gold back home after our wedding tonight. That way, we can get it done and over with, and I can leave with you so we can live together."
"Oh that sounds perfect," she said, "but I think I left one more bag of gold inside, could you check for me?"
"Anything for you, sweetheart," the man said.
As he ran back inside, Katherine hopped in the car, stuck the key in the ignition, and sped off into the distance, leaving "Mr. Right" behind.
It's been a couple of years since she first moved to Follicle. Since then she's lived a very quiet life. Nothing much goes on in the village either, until today, when a scream of horror ran through the streets.
"Help! Please help me! My daughter is very sick!" The villagers all turned around to see what the commotion was about. "Can anyone please help me?" the cry continued.
Around the corner came a woman holding a little girl about 5 years old in her arms. The look of the woman's face said it all. She searched for the village's doctor, as she trembled through the streets. She came to the only doctor's office in the village, seeking hope that her daughter will live. As the doctor examined the girl, the mother prayed silently, trying not to think of the worst that could happen. Unfortunately, the doctor gave the news that he did not have the right equipment or medicine to treat this rare disease she had. In fact, medicine for this disease was highly uncommon and very scarce in any part of the world. He doubted they could find enough in time, and even if they were lucky enough to find some, the cost would be tremendous since it is made from a very rare, hard to find plant species. Plus, no one in the village had that kind of money.....except for Miss Katherine herself. The mother without hesitation made her way over to the iron gates of the mansion, knocking out of hope on the front door.
Katherine answered the door without haste. "Can I help you ma'am?"
The woman answered in tears, "Yes my daughter became very ill. She has a very rare disease, and the medicine to cure her is very uncommon and very expensive. Some medicine though has been found in Asia, but we have no money to pay for it, or even to bring it all the way to France. You are the only one in this village that we have to turn to. Please, from the bottom of your heart, cut us a part of your golden threads to save my daughter."
The woman then fell on her knees sobbing. Katherine had never witnessed so much emotion in someone before, but remained hesitant to just handing the gold over. She said, "I'm sorry, I need time to think about it and I will return to you with my decision."
She slowly closed the door, walked gingerly up the steps, entered into her room full of golden threads, and began to think. This brought her back to a time when she was little. The many happy moments once shared with a friend. They did everything together, and they could not imagine life without each other. Until one day, her friend became very ill. There was only one kind of treatment for the illness, but her family couldn't afford it. They tried reaching out to friends and family for help, but no one had that kind of money. Sadly, she died a year later, with Katherine by her side.
She remembers the last words she said to her, "Katherine, you're the best friend in the entire world and you're the nicest person I know. One day I know you'll be someone important, and when someone needs you, I know you'll be there for them just like you were for me."
Right before she died, she grabbed a red rose from a vase beside her bed, gave it to Katherine and said, "Thank you for being my friend."
Then she took her last breath and she died. Katherine remembered this day clearly and she carried on this memory throughout her life. She knew that if she had all the money she has now, she would've easily been able to save her best friend. She now realized her calling to do the right thing: give a part of her fortune to save a life. She sat quietly in her room stroking her golden threads, then took a pair of scissors and chopped pieces off, each cut feeling as if cutting the roots off a growing tree. She took a small sack, carefully placed the threads in it, and tied it up with a red bow, in remembrance of the red rose given to her by her best friend.
Katherine quickly ran through the streets to where the little girl stayed, her sack of threads in a tight grip. Little did she know, she would be unprepared for the wretched sight about to encountered. She had never seen anything like this. The little girl laid down on a bed three times her size, and looked as if life was slowly draining out of her. Her face looked pale, and her eyes drooped, the way you look after not sleeping for days. Her arm hung loose over the side of the bed, as if trying to reach out for a piece of life. All the feelings of that horrid day, witnessing the death of her best friend came back to her and overcame all of the little greed she had left in her. She handed the bag of golden threads to her mother as she began to weep. Katherine embraced her, and told her that everything would be alright. The mother thanked her and embraced her once more. Katherine walked over to the little girl, kissed her forehead, and without a word, she walked out the door. She walked silently back to her mansion, receiving smiles and looks of gratitude from fellow villagers. She felt that welcoming feeling again, and she knew that from that day forth, her duty was to help out the people of Follicle. She planned to help them build bigger and sturdier homes, and she would help to improve the village in any way possible. She finally returned home after what seemed like such a long day, and decided to rest on the porch in her backyard. As she went to relax outside, she noticed an unfamiliar sight. In one corner of the backyard, she grew a garden of sunflowers. They were a reminder of back home, where sunflowers grew in abundance, and reminded her to keep her bright, sunny personality alive. That day, as she glanced over at her garden she came to find that there amidst the bright, yellow sunflowers, grew a vibrant, red rose.