My book, The Road Not Taken, poses many “magical questions”—and I’m going to begin digging even deeper into the historic and mythical underpinnings in its pages, here and on social media @SusanRubin1 on Twitter and @SusanRubinWriter on Instagram, in a new series: Mapping the Road Not Taken. Together, we’ll travel through the pages of my book—and at every stop, I’m going to ask you to answer a magical question. Leave your response in the comments here or on social media.
Note to Self: Always practice what you preach.
For the holidays, I have been imagining the kind of party Deborah, the protagonist in my novel The Road Not Taken, would throw to celebrate. In the book, Deborah finds herself at a soiree featuring people from across history, most notably women artists long erased by the men who had dominated their world.
I think Deborah’s festivus would go a little like this:
Deborah decides to spend one rotation of the earth creating comfort for every living thing she comes in contact with.
She takes her friend, and often lover, Tim Carbone with her. Tim being immortal, can grab anything they need out of thin air. They will circle the world looking for people and animals in need – giving food to the hungry, medicine to the sick, and a sense of caring to those forgotten creatures who nobody cares about.
From Manhattan they travel through the air to the South Bronx to a homeless encampment in the snow. The tents and cardboard boxes that take the place of a warm home are blocks long. Inside each ineffective enclosure that provides no warmth or shelter from wind, rain, or snow, the inhabitants range from newly unemployed, still looking much like anybody else on the wintry street, to the ragtag tents and boxes of the long time homeless who have dropped off the face of the earth as far as the earth is concerned.
There are dogs and cats living in these so-called shelters. Tim grabs huge bags of dog and cat kibble out of the air, along with chew toys, cat nip, and bags of litter with boxes to hold it. Human food is handed out, along with soap, blankets, toilet paper, clean water.
There is little point in describing the shock, awe, gratitude, anger and fear they encounter as they “knock” on each home. A puppy licks Deborah’s hand, a cat tries to crawl up Tim’s pant leg. The people are less able to relate to them but many smile and nod. They move on to townships in Africa, Asia, South America, every place where little villages of people exist with nothing to eat being their daily reality. People with terrible sores on their bodies, their teeth destroyed, their hair, no longer human hair.
They continue for a full 24 hour rotation, giving food, and solace. They finish in a village in Brazil. Here they are shot at by police until Tim takes one of their guns, break it in half, and hands it back to the terrified cop. In addition to the nourishment, they hope to give a message: humans are awakening to the need to end homelessness and poverty.
This brings me to this week’s magical question:
If you could go anywhere and invite anyone—dead or alive, mythological or mortal—what would your holiday celebration look like this year? (Pandemic be damned.)
Happy Holidays to everybody who is lonely, hungry, sick, grieving, hopeless. We will make this a better world. Or we will end the world completely.