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Dark Day at the Bridge Linda Sura Liza(1) Meanwhile, back at the castle, things were dark indeed. Liza the milkmaid discovered that her cows were not producing enough milk to supply the kingdom. She was exhausted from carrying the all those heavy ewers from Doc Sunderson's laboratory and when
Liza asked for his help or at least some money, he told her it was her job to be his assistant for the good of the kingdom.
She sat down wearily in the darkened barn and reached under her hay bale for the book of poetry she read to the cows. She enjoyed these quiet times and she knew that the cows produced more milk as the melodic sound of each pentameter coupled with her soft voice soothed them. As she opened the book, she cried out in horror when she discovered pages had been torn out and someone had written inside the cover that it was forbidden to read poems in the kingdom anymore.
Liza stumbled over to the lamp on the wall and tried to light it but someone had taken the spark makers. Liza ran to the door and flung them open. The sky had darkened, casting a gray light across the kingdom. She ran to the castle only to discover someone had posted a note on the door that there was to be no more singing or dancing unless it was under the direction of Dr. Sunderson.
She begged to see the queen but the doorman turned her away. The queen had fallen ill with colorblindness and her lady in waiting, OT is busy taking care of her.
"Oh no! No! No! Don't you see? The queen is fine! Everything in the kingdom IS gray!"
The doorman prodded her back with his spear. "Away with you now! It is forbidden to speak your mind here!"
Liza hurried back to the laboratory looking for Dr. Sunderson. A bright red flag above his lab waved violently in the wind. She banged her fists against his laboratory door.
"Doctor Sunderson! I know you are in there! Who gave you the right to make such a declaration?"
Doctor Sunderson opened the door slightly and Liza wrinkled her nose as the smell of dog poop assailed her nostrils.
"I am the doctor, you are just a milkmaid. I know what is best for the kingdom and if you were smart you would trust my decisions or you will be cast out of the kingdom."
Liza could not believe what she was hearing. She had spent time helping the doctor, all the time believing he loved the arts.
Now there was to be no music, no dancing, and no poetry at the kingdom. How was she to live without those things? Her cows needed to hear her read poetry to produce milk. She could not make a living without her sales of milk and cheese.
Liza looked up at the red flag, the only bit of color in the kingdom. She shivered in the cold and slowly made her way to the covered bridge by the river.
The paint had faded on the bridge. Dead calimari littered the banks. Someone had spray painted in large black letters "The Light is dead."
Liza curled up in a fetal position and cried herself to sleep. She was awakened by a loud clap of thunder and she curled up tighter, terrified by the storm. She laid there wide awake worrying about her cows and how they must be frightened too.
Above the noise of the storm she heard a deep voice singing...
"Bye Bye Miss American Pie"
She laid there and listened to the soothing timbre of the stranger as the storm raged around her.
The stranger had a small lantern and hung it on the wall.
"And we sang Dirges in the Dark the day the music died."
Liza edged closer to the stranger.
"Who are you?"
The stranger stopped his singing and introduced himself. "My friends call me "Dutch Boy" the painter.
"I am Liza. I once supplied milk for the kingdom but something terrible has happened."
Liza pointed to the graffiti on the bridge.
"We're not allowed to sing or dance or read poetry anymore unless Dr. Sunderson approves.
Dutch Boy read the words and looked thoughtful. He turned to Liza and said, "Just because someone says something is true, it doesn't mean it is. No one can kill the light within you."
He reached down and helped Liza to her feet.
"The Light comes from a higher power. It is meant for everyone, not just one person. We all have gifts to share with the world."
Dutch Boy took out his paintbrush and paints and began mixing colors. Liza watched as he created colors she had never seen before. He painted a mural of peace and beauty on the walls of the bridge. He painted people laughing and talking, holding hands and kissing, He painted people dancing, people singing, people writing. He painted right over the sign that read "the Light is dead". When he finished, he reached again for her hand and they stood together looking at the scene and smiling. They stood
there so long that neither one noticed the storm had died and the first rays of sun were pushing the clouds away.
Liza asked Dutch Boy to stay awhile and help her restore the kingdom as it was. He looked around at the gray buildings and unhappy faces of the people and promised her he would do what he could. Liza walked with him to the castle, knowing in her heart that the queen and OT would welcome him and provide shelter for him until this mess with Dr. Sunderson could be straightened out.

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