TOEFL Fairy Tale
There was one more character in the city who was completely different from all other letter-persons. Her name was Assay (with the stress on the second syllable), and she looked really strange. Everybody got bewildered when they first saw her: she was the only person in the family consisting of five letters! Persons were known to have a split personality sometimes, but in her case, the situation was much more complicated. She herself said that it was trivial " pentamorphosis" (a variety of polymorphosis). All in all, it was extremely hard to read her personality; the only thing one could say about her was that she seemed a very pleasantly challenged lady. She was the TOEFLs' colleague and taught essay writing at a university. The students did not like her class very much: she would always give them impossible tasks like, for instance, to write six hundred words in half an hour, whereas the standard TWE (Test of Written English) requirement was to write about three hundred words in thirty minutes.
Meanwhile, the TOEFL and SWEETS families lived in peace and friendship and often had great get-togethers. They never invited Assay to their parties, though she was always dropping them hints.
Everything ran its normal course in the city until one day... brother W lost all his patience. He was finding it more and more difficult to pretend. So, that day, he took all the family's money, which had been saved for tuition, and disappeared. His brothers and sisters looked for him for entire days and nights, but he had vanished into thin air.
In the meantime, brother W walked on and on; whether it was near or far - he did not know. His car was broken down, so W had to trudge for many miles through the snow. He got very cold and exhausted. And it was while he was making a big fire to cook a meal and get warm that he noticed something very unusual flying toward him. When the strange thing flew closer, whom should he see but Assay flying on ... a broom! Soon she landed right beside him. W was so stunned that he could only stutter, " Dddon't you think that is a really tttechnoogically challenged ffflying object" " Yes, I agree that it is a TCFO but let me put things plainly," Assay replied, her mouth twisted into a sinister grin, " I'm a fierce bloodthirsty witch, and we witches do stick to our traditions!" Then she asked him, " What's brought you here? Anyway, I'm glad to find you alone. I'm very hungry and you look so plump and inviting. You must be very tasty!" The letter W got so scared that he trembled with fear like a leaf on a tree in the wind: he felt as if he were already metabolically challenged. And then the witch took him into her house, which was depressingly lacking in hope and joy.
Some time passed, not much, not little. Things were not going very well for the S...EETS family because they were not able to work as a sign any more and earn money to pay for their education. Besides, they could not believe their brother was such a bad letter and missed him badly. And there were all sorts of rumors about Assay, who was also missing and who was once seen to be using a TCFO.
One morning the S...EETS decided to set out on a journey to search for their brother. It took them a long time before they at last reached the witch's place. They were thrilled when they found W safe and sound; except, he seemed to have lost a few pounds, which, by the way, was becoming to him very much. It turned out that Assay had caught a very bad cold while practicing her TCFO in a strong wind and had come down with tonsillitis. Her throat hurt so badly that she could not eat anything. W even had to take care of her by making some special herbal tea and taking her temperature. Because of the illness, she lost the ability to cast her wicked magic spells. And because of the suffering they had endured, both of them turned into very nice persons. Assay even decided to change her name, and having undergone special plastic surgery, she became Essay, a very charming young lady. She was so fair and nice to her students that once she published one hundred and thirty three possible TWE essay topics in a TOEFL bulletin so that the students could get better prepared for this part of the exam.
As for the SWEETS family, all of them completed their degrees. W met two real friends, who were his kindred spirits and " shapes" (three of them were just the spitting image of each other). Eventually they set up a famous www.network. Brother T continued his research beyond the limits of linguistic political correctness. He came to the conclusion that PC is one of the sociopolitical mechanisms of any evolutionary society and that it is better - and one might even say " safer" - to suffer the PC extremes than some of the extremes of a revolutionary society.
By the way, nobody in TOEFL city, when they meant to be politically correct, went to the extremes anymore. They were just tactful and humanly - or in this story one should say " personly" - correct. They were not afraid to tell jokes, either. But most of all, they loved to laugh at themselves, and from the time they started to do so, they began to live happily ever after.
Written by Larissa Koptelova
Drawings by Larissa Koptelova