Cilla and Smilla

 

     Two girls lived in a plain, square house, made of wood and glass and stone.  They were twin sisters, geniuses, and the rulers of their world.  One was named Cilla, and the other Smilla.  The two sisters were highly competitive.  One would always try to top the other—and that never led to anything good.

     One day, Cilla decided she would try to make the world better.  “We all live in such ugly little houses, and that won’t do,” Cilla said.  “I shall build bigger and better houses for everyone.”

     Cilla drew up plans and hired workmen to construct an odd-looking house made of wood and glass and stone.  It had triangular windows, trapezoidal doors, and a lovely front porch with a swing.

     “Oh, please, I can do better than that,” said her unimpressed sister.

     Smilla gathered her own workers and had them complete a similar, yet slightly different house.  Hers had triangular windows, trapezoidal doors, a funnel-shaped chimney, three steeples painted in swirling colors—and a lovely front porch with a swing.

     “Humph!” said Cilla.  “That’s nothing.” 

     Cilla’s workers sawed, hammered, dug, chiseled, hauled, poured, and painted all day and night to build not one . . . not two . . . but seven majestic, colorful castles, all enclosed by meandering moats.

     “Oh, please girl,” said Smilla when she saw what Cilla had built.  “Don’t even think that’s better than I can do!”

     Smilla commanded workers from around the world to begin working on a plan, a stupendous and amazing plan.  She would build a massive city of large and unusual buildings that would cover half the world, stretching out to the sea and up to the sky.

    One brave voice came out of the crowd, saying, “We will have to level mountains and cut down whole forests for the space and materials to build this.  What will happen to the animals and birds living there?  And did you even think about how this will affect global warming?”

     Smilla’s face froze.  Her eyes were like cold chips of ice.

     “Who dares question the great Smilla, co-ruler of the world?” she demanded.

     No one spoke up.  No one dared say anything.

     Smilla was not at all pleased, but she decided that perhaps she needed to explain her fabulous plan further.  

     “People, this new city will be for everyone,” she said.  “It will make the world a better place.  I guarantee each animal will have its own furnished apartment.  Isn’t that better than a nest in the grass or a hole in a tree?  And who doesn’t want the world to be warmer?  I mean, really!”

     So Smilla’s workers cut down forests, leveled mountains, and built a magnificent city of wood, concrete, steel, and glass in their place.  When finished, the colorful and oddly shaped buildings stretched up to the clouds and covered nearly half the tiny world.

     Cilla was furious!  “We will see who is better at making the world better,” she threatened.

     There were still many forests to cut and mountains to level, along with rivers and an ocean to deal with, so Cilla gathered workers and drew up a plan.

     “Drain that ocean and pave those rivers,” she commanded.  “I need more room to build.”

     One brave voice came out of the crowd, asking, “What about the fish and other creatures that live in these waters?  You must know that they can’t survive anywhere else.”

     Cilla exploded!  “Who dares question my ingenious plan?” 

     No one spoke up.  No one dared say anything.

     Cilla took a long, slow breath.  Though reluctant to do so, she decided she needed to explain her excellent plan further. 

     “Fish are intelligent creatures,” she said.  “They will adapt to living out of water.  If not, I will design and make beautiful glass fish bowls for them.  I am building a great city, people.  I am making the world better.  The fish will be happy with my plans, I assure you.”

     So workers drained the ocean, paved over the rivers, cut more forests, and leveled more mountains.  Soon, Cilla’s city of unusual buildings met Smilla’s, and just one, magnificent city now covered the tiny world. 

     Smilla, of course, was not at all happy, and began working on a grander plan to top her sister’s grand plan.  Then, it began to rain.  It rained and rained and rained.  The fish were delighted as floodwaters rose, but not Cilla, Smilla, or the rest of the world’s people and animals.  They abandoned their furnished apartments and climbed long stairs, gathering above the clouds at the very tops of the tallest buildings. 

     Lightning lashed the sky and hurricane winds howled across the world.  The high waters heaved and smashed against the mighty city.  Cilla and Smilla shouted, commanded, and pleaded.  However, not even the rulers of the world could stop the rampaging water.

     After much time had passed, the clouds finally thinned and the sun bathed the world in light and warmth.  The waters slowly went down.  Solid land appeared, allowing the people and animals to come down from the clouds. 

     From the remaining waters, a new ocean had formed, and new rivers carved new courses.  The world shrugged, causing hills and mountains to reappear, toppling buildings as they did.  Plants and trees began growing.  They wormed their way up through the city’s concrete streets.  They wound around and through each remaining building.  The water-weakened buildings began to crack and tumble.  Before long, the city that covered the world was no more.

     Cilla and Smilla, sisters, geniuses, and rulers of the world were speechless.  They saw sunlight glimmering off the new ocean.  They saw forests of towering trees and wild grasslands.  They saw colorful flowers and majestic mountains.

     “Wow!” said Cilla.  “My plan really did make the world better.”

     “Oh, please,” Smilla protested.  “Anyone can see that it was my plan that made the world better.”

     On that note, the people went back to their daily lives.  The animals and birds went back to the forests and fields.  The fish went back to the waters.

     Everyone agreed that this fresh, new, beautiful world was indeed better.  Cilla and Smilla, however, were not satisfied.  Already, they had begun to draw up plans, stupendous and amazing plans—plans to make the world even better.

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© 2019 by Michael Puttonen