I recently came across this piece I wrote two-and-a-half years ago, right after I had completed the first round of treatment for breast cancer. I was rereading T.H. White’s: The Once and Future King with my son at the time. Can you tell?
The prompt came from writing group, and it was simply to take a well-known poem or nursery rhyme and insert text between the lines. Try it!
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
“Well okay, I just want to set things straight here. I have been accused of everything from clumsiness to having a self-destructive streak, but that’s just not true! I am a law abiding, self respecting egg. I went to sit on the wall because it was a lovely sunny day, and because I wanted a better view of the tournament. Being short and round, I needed to be higher up to take in all the sights and sounds of pageant day. Who would have known what was to come?”
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
“True, true, I did. And this is how it came about. I was perfectly perched on the wall, with my weight evenly distributed, when a great cheer rose up from the crowd. A black knight rode out, his face completely obscured by his visor, and charged toward his adversary. It was as he unhorsed his opponent with some of the most skillful lance work I have ever seen, that I in my excitement leaned a bit too far forward, resulting in the famous “great fall” that you’ve doubtless heard so much about. “Fall” it was, “great” is another thing. It certainly wasn’t “great” from my perspective.”
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
“This is the part I don’t like to think about. I mean, all eggs take a tumble from time to time. It’s due to our shape: “middle heavy”, you can call it. It really takes quite a bit of practice to find our center of gravity. So I guess what I’m saying is that it was really no big deal that I took a tumble just when I did. But the king made a federal case of it; I mean, he called off the tournament just at the height of the excitement and had all of his knights, all of their squires, I mean everybody, come on horseback to assist me in my humiliation. By the end of the day, there wasn’t a subject in the entire kingdom who hadn’t heard about what had now gone from a “little tumble” to a “great fall”.
Couldn’t put Humpty together again
“Okay, and this was the final straw. Its not as if anyone is absolutely perfect, or that they don’t age and change as they go through life. It’s not as if I was mortally wounded. So I’m a little cracked now, and not quite so round and smooth as I was before, but for goodness sakes, I’m still whole. I’m not exactly the same as I was before, but I consider the cracks in my shell battle scars from my own personal “tournament”, if you see what I mean. I’m still me after all, a little rearranged, but very much a whole egg, and back together again. Well, now you know the true story behind my very public tumble. I’ll just have to be more careful in the future, I guess!”
“So now that you know how it happened, here’s the preferred version of the rhyme:”
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
On a bright and sunny day
He took a fall off the wall
But now, he’s quite okay!