Once upon a time there lived a little girl named Betty Sue. Betty Sue lived in a small village in the Kingdom of Nomia with her mother and father. Her parents ran a small shop on the corner of King Street and Prince Way. There they made an honest and decent living selling milk, hand-woven cloth, peacock feathers, and other necessities of life.
Betty Sue was a lucky girl. Her parents loved her and gave her all the things a young girl desired. She had her own bedroom decorated in black and white zebra stripes with accents of pink and green. She wore the latest fashionable clothing. Betty Sue even had her very own unicorn with a sparkly pink horn! Betty Sue’s parents doted on her and made sure she had all she would ever need.
Betty Sue was incredibly happy and energetic. She excelled in her studies (she did very well in Dragons 101), she dominated in jousting, sang like an angel, delighted in eating a hearty meal, and glided through life with seemingly little effort. Most importantly, when Betty Sue looked at the world with her big green eyes, she saw the world in an exciting and vivid explosion of color that no one else seemed to see. It was amazing, exciting and beautiful!
Those times were the happiest of her life, but for some unknown reason, she suddenly changed. Betty Sue felt dull inside. The beautiful, colorful world around her suddenly turned to gray. The delight she usually felt in her accomplishments sputtered until -POOF- it was gone. She lost her appetite. All she wanted to do was sleep and let the dull, gray world go by without her.
Her parents were naturally concerned. They took Betty Sue to the family doctor. He checked her temperature and looked at her tonsils. After much muttering about, he declared she was fine. The doctor was a good man, but thought Betty Sue was just being a dramatic little girl to get attention. He informed her parents that she needed more of their time and she would be back to normal.
Betty Sue went home with her parents that day and nothing changed. Her parents gave her even more attention than before, but Betty Sue did not care. Her dad bought her a rainbow, but all Betty Sue could see were dull shades of gray. Her mom created a fairy garden for her, where they could work side by side and grow toadstool houses for all kinds of fairies and pixies, but Betty Sue would not even come out to see it.
After a few more days, Betty Sue started feeling better. The colors came back into the world, just as bright and vivid as before. She came out of her dungeon for the first time in days. Betty Sue joined her parents at the dining hall table and enjoyed eating mush again. Back to school she went, showing delight in all that she did, just as before. Her parents were happy to see the doctor was correct and all she needed was a little more attention.
However, it wasn’t long before it happened again. Everyone who knew Betty Sue became puzzled by her bizarre behavior. This girl had it all; why did she seem so sad all of a sudden? Her parents were even more concerned than before. This time, they took her to the Wise Woman.
The Wise Woman lived on the outskirts of the Kingdom. She was considered a witch of sorts, but not a bad one. Still, she was a little scary to the people in the village, so they left her alone unless they needed her. She lived in a little cottage surrounded by a strange garden. Most people in the Kingdom had gardens, but none like the Wise Woman’s. Her garden consisted of unknown trees, bushes, and herbs. Some glowed with an eerie blue or yellow glow; others looked as if they watched and followed your movements as you passed by. It was said that she used these strange plants in her magical potions. These potions could cure the ills that all others could not. For that reason, Betty Sue’s parents took her there one afternoon.
The Wise Woman took one look into Betty Sue’s dull, flat eyes and knew she could help, but also knew it came with a price. She explained to Betty Sue’s parents that she could help, but what it would cost. They did not care as long as Betty Sue could be normal again. Muttering and shuffling her feet, she motioned for Betty Sue to follow her into the cottage. Inside, she pulled various jars from a shelf and dumped the contents into a large boiling cauldron. She stirred it exactly three times, then scooped a spoonful out and poured it into a wooden bowl.
“Drink!” she whispered. Betty Sue gazed with uncaring eyes and did as she was told. The liquid seemed to disappear on her tongue and tasted faintly of silver. Betty Sue looked down at the floor. As usual, everything around her was gray. Suddenly, she felt a tingling in her toes. She lifted up her skirt to see what was happening and she watched, with amazement, as her toes filled with color. She could see the sparkle of her toe polish. Betty Sue watched as the color began to slowly fill in all around her. It was like watching a child color the world. She danced and clapped her hands together with delight as her world became colorful once again.
Her parents cried with relief. They paid the Wise Woman and went merrily on their way. All the way home, Betty Sue marveled at the beauty of the Kingdom.
Betty Sue never saw gray again. But, just as the Wise Woman had explained, she never saw the explosion of colors she once saw. She saw the ordinary colors that everyone else saw. Betty Sue never again sang like an angel; she just sang like any ordinary girl. She enjoyed eating, but did not find the pleasure she once knew. Betty Sue lost the gray, but she lost the brightest colors, too.
One afternoon after her studies, Betty Sue ventured to the edge of the Kingdom. She saw the cottage in the distance and hastened her footsteps. As she approached the gate leading into the curious garden, Betty Sue saw the Wise Woman standing on the porch watching her. The Wise Woman whispered, “I knew you’d be back.” Then she turned and shuffled inside. Betty Sue quickly raced up the path and followed her. Without saying a word, the Wise Woman held out a cup filled with an oily liquid. Betty Sue gulped it down. This time it tasted sweet and sticky like a summer day. Her eyes thanked the Wise Woman and she left without a word.
Betty Sue was delighted to see explosions of colors in the Kingdom again. But she also knew that with the colors came the gray. Betty Sue decided, on that very day, that she would rather be herself, both colorful and gray. She knew the gray days would make the colorful days even better. She walked back toward the village and lived (mostly) happily ever after.