Insomnia is still stalking me. I know, it’s all in my brain. Wide awake at 2 a.m. once again, I understood that I needed help in redirecting my thoughts. Maybe by reading.
Reading for just six minutes, according to some studies, can reduce stress related insomnia by at least 65% thus helping the body fall asleep. So what I need is a bedtime story–a bedtime story for grown-ups. A story that can distract me from myself.
My middle school Speech & Drama teacher, Ms. Bardwell, focused on getting her students to express themselves in a comprehensible way. One exercise she used was that of having the students learn a short story well enough to retell it in front of their classmates. The story I chose was Frank R. Stockton’s “The Lady or the Tiger?”
In a far-away land, a barbarous king used public trials and chance to decide a man’s fate. Once accused of a crime, the accused was taken to a public arena and told to choose between two doors in front of him. Behind one door was a lady and behind the other, a tiger. The accused must choose between the two doors. If the door he chooses has the lady behind it, it means he is innocent. However, he must marry the lady immediately whether or not he wants to. If he chooses the door with the tiger behind it, it means he’s guilty and, as punishment, must be devoured by the tiger.
When the king learns that the princess, his daughter, is in love with a handsome, young and caring man but who has zero social status and no money, the king has his daughter’s lover put on trial.
The princess, alarmed by what awaits her lover, is consumed by fear, jealousy, and doubt. She’s forever lost her lover regardless as to the door he will pick. Because he will either be eaten by the tiger or be forced to marry another woman.
The princess uses her connections in the palace to learn what’s behind each door. Once at the trial, the lover looks to the princess for help. Her eyes indicate the door on the right so he chooses it.
It’s a DIY ending as the reader is never told what’s behind the chosen door leaving the lover’s fate in the hands of the reader’s imagination.
“If you decide which it was—the lady or the tiger—you find out what kind of person you are yourself.” Frank R. Stockton
Epilogue: Choice is a power.
Related: “The Lady or The Tiger” by Frank R. Stockton pdf + The Lady, or the Tiger? Wikipedia + Short Stories: The Lady or the Tiger? by Frank Stockton online + Five Short Stories pdf + The world’s shortest stories on archive.org HERE + Chris Advansun Bedtime Stories to make you fall asleep, Sleep Stories