by Mark Patraw
Homepage: Mark's Art Page
[This story is based on a folk tale collected and retold by Alvin Schwartz (More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Harper Trophy Edition. Harper & Row. New York, NY. 1986)]
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Once, long ago, two girls lived in the countryside with their grandparents, for they had lost their mother and father when they were very young. Nakoruru was nine, and Rimururu seven. Grandfather was in poor health and bedridden, and Grandmother spent most of her time caring to his needs, so the girls spent their days playing in the surrounding forest and valley by themselves.
One day, while chasing each other through the long grass, the two girls happened upon a young boy sitting upon a fallen tree whom they had never seen before. He was dressed in flamboyant, rich clothing and he was playing with a shining, glass globe, which he rapidly juggled from one hand to the other. Nakoruru and Rimururu had never seen such an amazing toy before. The orb cycled through all the colors of the rainbow as it spun through the air and glowed with a slow, but steady pulse.
The two girls wanted the sphere badly and begged the boy to give it to them, but he refused. They continued to plead, and, at last, the lad relented and said, "I will only give you this jewel is you are really, really bad. Go home, behave horribly, and then come back here tomorrow and tell me just how terrible you were - only then I will give you the orb."
Nakoruru and Rimururu quickly agreed and rushed back home to the little house they shared with their grandparents. The two girls yelled and screamed, they pulled each other's hair, they broke dishes, they refused to go to bed that night - they were really bad, much to their grandparents' dismay.
The next morning they gobbled their breakfast up like animals and dashed back to the spot where they had met the boy the day before, and sure enough, he was there waiting for them. The two girls recounted what they had done, and demanded he give them the sphere, but the lad only laughed, "You call that bad? You'll have to be much worse than that! Go home and try harder, I'll be waiting for you again tomorrow."
Nakoruru and Rimururu were disappointed, but they really wanted the toy, so they ran back home and began to raise hell again. They pulled all of the vegetables up out of the garden and threw them down into the well, they beat the goat with a stick until it ran away, they smeared dirt all over the walls, they broke windows - they were really, really bad.
The girls' Grandmother began to sob, "Why are you doing this? You used to be such good, little girls. If you don't stop, Grandfather and I will leave, and you will get a new grandmother with glass eyes and a wooden tail in my place."
After this scolding, Nakoruru and Rimururu were ashamed, and more than a little scared, so they assured their Grandmother that their dreadful behavior would end. "We won't do it anymore, Grandma!" The girls cried with tears in their eyes.
The next day, Nakoruru and Rimururu dragged their feet slowly on their way to meet the mysterious boy.
"We can't do this anymore, Nakoruru!" Rimururu cried, "Grandmother is angry and disappointed with us…"
"Don't worry." Nakoruru reassured her sister. "That boy will give us the toy today and then we can be good again."
But, Nakoruru was wrong. After telling the boy what they had done, again, he only laughed. "You think you've been bad? You're going to have to do much worse than that if you want my treasure! Go home, put some effort into it this time, and return tomorrow."
The girls were flabbergasted. How could he say they hadn't been bad enough? They argued with the boy, but there was no reasoning with him. At last, the girls gave up and slunk back home.
"Just one more day." Nakoruru muttered. "We'll get that jewel tomorrow for sure."
"Okay…" Rimururu replied doubtfully, "Just one more day."
When they got back, the two girls immediately went to work. They ripped their clothes to shreds, they set their beds on fire, they poked and pinched their sick grandfather and then rolled him onto the floor and jumped on his stomach, they spammed the Samurai Shodown Forever message board and posted nonsense topics in the wrong forums on purpose - they were really, really, really bad.
Grandmother wrung her hands and pulled her hair. "Oh gods, what have I done to deserve such horrible grandchildren? If you don't stop, Grandfather and I will leave you and go far, far away!"
Nakoruru and Rimururu cried and said they were sorry again. "We'll be better, Grandma; you'll see…we promise!"
"I hope so…I can't wait much longer." Grandmother moaned as she helped Grandfather back into bed with much difficulty.
The next morning, Rimururu and Nakoruru snuck out of the house early in the morning before anyone else had awoken. Even though the sun had barely peaked over the hills, the boy was already sitting there waiting for them. Again, the two girls recounted the previous day's misdeeds, and again, the boy refused to part with his jewel.
Nakoruru and Rimururu begged and screamed, but the child just laughed, "I never intended to give you my treasure from the beginning. It was just a game, I thought you knew that."
Dejected and angry, the two girls ran home in tears, but when they got there, the house was empty. Where had Grandmother and Grandfather gone?
"Grandpa took a turn for the worse and Grandma took him to see the doctor…" Nakoruru whispered, trying to reassure herself and Rimururu and failing.
"Yeah," Rimururu sniffled, "they'll be back later."
The two girls found the silence of their dwelling unbearable, so they spent the rest of the day sullenly wandering the hillside. Eventually, it began to grow dark and Nakoruru and Rimururu reluctantly made their way homeward.
"Look!" Rimururu suddenly cried, a smile spreading across her face. Far ahead, they could see lights shining in their little house; Grandmother and Grandfather had returned! Without delay, the two made a run for the cottage.
Gasping for breath, and smiling at one another, they crept up to a window and peered inside. But their grandparents were nowhere to be seen, instead, their new grandmother sat waiting for them, her glass eyes shining, her wooden tail drumming on the floor.