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A Failure of Self-Help

by Rosalind Barden

"I get killed during winter, you know that, Margie."

"I appreciate your position, Mr. Blakeman, but please appreciate that
tourism is not our work. Already, I throw everything your way. My
supervisor hasn't noticed or cared, but if I request we stay past fall..."

"I thought we were friends, Margie."

"We are."

"What about the fudge?"

"I don't deny you're a talented cook, Mr. Blakeman. My husband
particularly enjoys your fudge."

"I thought you were going to ask your supervisor about my snow idea. You
guys could use snow just as easily. Lots of snow here in winter. Come on,
Margie, you've got to help me out here!"

A long, uncomfortable silence on the porch, cooled by autumn breezes
moving from across the barren, harvested fields.

"Mr. Blakeman, I have to be frank. All my life I've been a people-
pleaser. I don't know if they're popular here, but I've begun reading self-
help books. I've discovered so much about myself: why I do what I don't
want to do; who the real me is. Yes, I told you I would mention the snow to
my supervisor, but I have the right to change my mind. And I have the right
to express myself, honestly. The truth is, my supervisor dislikes
innovation. The truth is, winter is our aquatic research time. The truth
is, fudge is nice, but I can't allow fudge to overshadow my priority goal--
my career. Pestering my supervisor isn't empowering my priority, Mr.
Blakeman. Besides, I don't like cold weather."

Another uncomfortable pause. Fallen brown leaves rustled across the
porch boards, newly painted with a summer's worth of tourist money.

"Okay, Margie, forget fudge--you, your supervisor, your husband--get all
the hot chocolate you want. That'll keep you toasty in the cold. Please,
Margie, please, please..."

"Mr. Blakeman--stop. My answer is no. The old me would apologize to you
now, but the new me--no, not the new me, the authentic me that's been here
all along--knows I haven't done anything wrong. I wish you the best and
hope you see winter as a challenge, a fresh way to reevaluate . . . you.
But I can't become emotionally involved because that's controlling and the
only person I control is me, and even then, 'control' is an outmoded term.
I cooperate with myself."

With a sound not loud enough to wake the cats draped slumbering on the
porch rails, she collapsed upon herself into her ship, cleverly disguised as
a floral-print chaise, which in turn shrunk to a pin-point and disappeared
to the warmer climes of the Bermuda Triangle.

No crop circle tourist money till next summer, and now, no snow circle
cash to tide him over. Furious, Mr. Blakeman flung against the porch boards
the book he'd surreptitiously clutched. The cats woke and glared at the
crumpled pages of Bend Others to Your Will.

Once again, as always, the alien had outsmarted him.

The End

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