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Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, known as Happila, there lived a fairy princess named Fiona. She loved to sing and dance and play joyful music all the time. She also enjoyed making others feel happy and good about themselves, and so with her talents she did just that. When people were down on themselves she sang them a positive song. When people were irritated or stressed, she would comfort them by dancing peacefully and slowly. Twirling ever so gracefully on her toes, she appeared to be floating in the air. If an individual was depressed or having a bad day, she would serenade him with music that was filled with hope and light. Fiona was truly someone the people in the land could count on. She would remark, “Where would we be without song and dance?” The answer was only known to her great ancestors, because in truth, no one really knew.
Then, one fateful day, the great and powerful King Justin from the kingdom of Moodlind ordered a halt to all types and forms of music and dance in all of the seven lands, including Happila. People in each land began to worry and weep over their lost rights to sing, dance, and play music. The land most affected, and most mournful, however, was Happila.
“Today…today is the day,” sobbed Mayor Pandit, the long-time mayor of Happila, “that the love, happiness, and peace we shared through music is gone.” He paused briefly and then continued, “Today is the day the dance has passed us by. Today is the day the music has died.” He was unsure of what was to become of Happila. He looked upon the citizens of Happila and saw the fear in their eyes. After the last word had left Mayor Pandit’s trembling lips, the whole land of Happila began to mourn.
“Isn’t there another way out?” cried one of the men. The man who had cried out looked lost in the crowd of people. No one had a clue as to what to do, except cry. Mayor Pandit, with small glassy eyes, shook his head weakly. “That’s not fair!” the man yelled back. But the lost man felt that it was of no use to protest. “Well young man,” began the mayor, “sometimes life is like that. Sometimes there just isn’t any other way, unless you know the secret way out.” He spoke with true feeling, and tried as hard as he could not to sing or do a little jig. It was so nerve-racking! It was as if he were trying to rid himself of a bad habit. He was not the only one who felt that way!
The land of Happila was more like the land of Distressed. People were almost always depressed. The poets wept, love fell to the wayside, instrumentalists were forced to tear up their sheet music and turn in their instruments to the mayor’s safe, and the word “happiness” was no longer a recognized household name. Fiona didn’t know what to do except try to stand up for their rights of expression, so she petitioned the mayor for his support in the return of song and dance.
“I don’t know if my support will make much of a difference, Fiona,” said Mayor Pandit. He felt hopeless in this situation, and he wasn’t about to change his tired mind that easily.
“Mayor,” cried Princess Fiona, “the land of Happila needs your help. Without happiness in our lives we will cease to exist! We can no longer go on like this! Just an hour ago, I saw a woman with her two children becoming invisible. Slowly fading, but still leaving. The people are becoming hopeless. They can’t leave like this!” Fiona pleaded and pleaded with the President until finally he agreed.
“Well, what am I to do? What is there to do?” sighed Mayor Pandit. “I’ll help you, but I don’t know if any of it will do any good.”
“Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you, Mayor Pandit!” Fiona hugged him tightly. He would not regret this, and Fiona was sure of it. After all, where would the land of Happila be without song and dance and where would they be without trying? The Mayor and Fiona talked for long hours, as Fiona shared her secret and the Mayor developed a plan to save the people of Happila. If it were not for the secret way out that Fiona and Mayor Pandit shared with their people, many would have just accepted fading away and disappearing as their fate. They put their heads together and with long and careful discussion and thought, came up with an idea that could work if the rest of Happila supported them.
Their efforts to save Happila from turning to the dark side were better late than never. For some people, it was already too late. They had given up all hope and happiness and faded completely away, while others were just barely able to be seen. But there was still hope.
Mayor Pandit called a meeting for everyone in Happila. At the meeting, he explained the plan. “Fiona and I have thought about the way out, and there are a couple of possibilities.” The mayor went on to enlighten the people about how they could choose to fade away or choose to return to the initial plan for the people of Happila. They wanted everyone to be able to express and share their love for one another, be happy again, and not give up, no matter how hard the way might be. Their “secret way out” was to go through a small hidden door at the end of the labyrinth garden near the borders of Happila. The people’s voices began to stir after hearing this.
“Can we take a vote on this?” asked Fiona.
“Sure we can,” replied Mayor Pandit, “That’s a great idea.” He faced the small crowd with confidence, and asked for a show of hands. “Who is against the idea of escaping through the hidden door at the end of the labyrinth garden?” Only one person raised his hand. Fiona and Mayor Pandit stared into the crowd and then looked at each other. “So then everyone else is in favor?” asked Fiona. They watched as a wave of nods appeared. “Alright then. That’s our plan!” Fiona whispered in his ear. “Oh, yes I almost forgot. We shall meet here tonight at six o’ clock sharp, whereupon we will travel to the door by way of the labyrinth garden. Any questions?” No one raised their hand. “Okay, well we’ll see each other tonight!” The meeting was dismissed.
****
At six o’ clock sharp, Mayor Pandit took role and almost everyone in Happila was there. They promptly left from the meeting place and strode on through the labyrinth. When they finally arrived at the small hidden door, they opened it with their love, their perseverance, and their joy of knowing that they were helping one another. They let the bravest of the group slide through the doorway to the other side. The young man cried out in a melody, “It’s the way! It’s the way!” The rest gathered around the doorway and watched the man dance around in ecstasy.
Fiona was almost speechless. “This is beyond amazing.” She was astonished at how he had simply stepped through the doorway and began to dance and sing. “Is this a dream?”
“No! It’s not a dream, Fiona! It’s real!” called the happy man. “Come in! Everyone! Come in!”
“One by one, my Happila people,” said Fiona. “Rather, my friends. We will rebuild the meaning of Happila back to the way it should be in time. Thank goodness there’s a secret way out. Otherwise we’d have faded out for eternity. Finally, we have a new beginning.” And so one by one, the former people of Happila with the Fairy Princess Fiona, stepped through the secret doorway and into a world of unrelenting joy, song, and dance, expressing their love and gratitude, and they lived “happila” ever after!


------
Kellie Lachata


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